Reflecting on teaching practices across cultures

My name is Hasto Budi Santoso. I was born in Klaten, Central Java, Indonesia, and my native language is Bahasa, and I also speak Javanese, Balinese and English. I’m an English teacher at SMPN 2 Tarakan, Kalimantan, Indonesia. I was recently invited by the Ministry of Education and Culture, Government of Indonesia, to participate in a fully customised professional development program for Indonesian teachers at The University of Queensland’s Institute of Continuing & TESOL Education in Brisbane, Australia.

This professional development program gave me the opportunity to explore various aspects of teacher training with leading academics and experts in STEM. The program incorporated a balanced mix of theory and practice. We covered teaching simulations, school immersions, environmental learning, and technology application in real life teaching practices. The combination of all those things helped to improve my knowledge of STEM education, and gain a deeper understanding of how to engage students with innovative teaching methods.

To begin with, I thought STEM curriculum was based on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines until I learnt how we can integrate all four disciplines into any subject. I witnessed how English teaching can be more creative and engaging when students employ digital technologies that embrace hands-on learning through making, building, creating and collaborating. For example, students can create language projects using technology and integrate their English language skills with the use of a video camera to produce a livelier project.

Teaching simulation also provided us with a step-by-step process for delivering the lesson with a STEM-related focus. This allowed me to discover new teaching methods, and how we can use technology to help students solve problems. I can now reflect on the curriculum approaches in Australian schools, and appreciate a students’ perspective of teaching and learning. This really helped to stimulate communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking.

One of the highlights was an environmental learning excursion at Stradbroke Island. I saw first-hand how the Quandamooka people (an Aboriginal Australian group) maintain a strong connection to country, culture and tradition. I was particularly impressed by how the Indigenous people built an electric pole from wood instead of steel or concrete, and use a wood roof instead of zinc or aluminium. I even wrote a poem to express my admiration about the island and its surrounding.

By Hasto Budi Santoso

Quandamooka your real name is
The ancestor of the islanders and the city inhabitants
The story of yours carved in mind for hundred years
Along the road, your wise traditions are posed

Not from iron the electric poles are, nor steel concrete
The pines and eucalyptus have there stood still
Nor are from clay or sink your roof
Slices of wood shade the whole family underneath
Never have been corroded by age or termite

From underneath the soil, your water is pure
From the natural gas, your stoves are for sure
The solar you kept enlightening your night
From the indigenous recipe the ice cream you made 
How extraordinary to have an island without pollution

Quandamooka, a nice and convenient land
Can’t be ground by ideology and political ambition 
Living the life-maintaining true tradition
Emitting wisdom that lay beneath the islanders

There are so many amazing experience and takeaways from this program. I'm so lucky to experience a lot of cultural differences, I really like the Australian lifestyle and people. I will return to Indonesia with new insights and many positive experiences and continue to embrace self-improvement.

As an English teacher, I will apply these new learning outcomes in the classroom by making conventional projects more creative and interactive with the use of digital technologies. Instead of writing a report on a piece of paper, students can record a creative interactive report so that others can see what they see, listen to what they say, and feel what they feel. This will create an experiential learning experience, and allow students to publish their projects on social platforms and reach new audiences.

About the program

The University of Queensland’s Institute of Continuing & TESOL Education (ICTE) recently delivered a professional development program for 90 teachers from the Ministry of Education and Culture, Indonesia. The three-week program was specifically designed to enhance the practical application of innovative teaching approaches through interactive workshops and lectures, complemented by site visits and school immersions to observe experiential learning and teaching practices in Australia. Subject matter experts from The University of Queensland’s School of Education, School of Human Movement and Nutrition Science, and the Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation (ITALI) were engaged to deliver sessions across the four program streams which included:

  • Physical Education
  • Guidance and Counselling
  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
  • Applied Teaching Methodologies for the 21st Century

ICTE has extensive experience in the design and delivery of professional customised programs to groups of overseas government officials and academic staff from the public sector and universities and looks forward to further collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Culture for capacity building and professional development programs for their teachers.

Last updated:
15 June 2021