Cycle 1 (2011 Deadline)
Incorporating Bali's subak heritage into primary and secondary education: curriculum development, teacher training, and action research
PI: Sang Putu Kaler Surata (Mahasaraswati University)
US Partner: John Stephen Lansing (University of Arizona Tucson)
Project Dates: June 2012 - May 2014
UNMAS students interview farmers from Subak Tampaksiring (photo courtesy of Dr. Surata).
The objective of this research is to train future teachers in education for sustainable development. Course materials will be developed to teach primary and secondary students about the agro-ecology of Bali, with an emphasis on the ancient institutions that manage Bali’s celebrated rice terraces: subaks and water temples. Balinese subaks are traditional, community-level religious institutions that manage irrigation water, which is regarded as a gift from the Goddess of the Lakes, and as such is a shared resource. Generations ago, nearly all Balinese children had direct experience of subaks and the agro-ecology of terraced rice, but today the majority of Balinese are no longer farmers, and knowledge of both the ecological and spiritual role of the subaks and water temples is much less accessible. The subak system is also experiencing threats from both land conversion and loss of soil fertility. The subaks and water temples are more than functional institutions; they are widely regarded as a cultural achievement of the Balinese people, and their vulnerability is a frequent topic in Balinese newspapers, television, and seminars. The proposed project is designed to help address these concerns by developing teaching materials about the subaks to be used in both primary and secondary schools in Bali and elsewhere in Indonesia. Both printed and Web-based instructional materials will be created by teams of future teachers, who will also receive training in the formal evaluation of the pedagogical effectiveness of these materials and methods. Bali’s subaks provide an excellent case study from which to learn about sustainability, resilience and the interaction of humans with the natural environment.
It will also significantly enhance the broader impacts of a National Science Foundation-funded investigation of the resilience of Balinese subaks, by incorporating the results into education for Indonesian school children and by providing structured training in education for sustainable development for a large cohort of future teachers. The major challenge for the project is to develop materials and modules that will be both comprehensive and effective in the context of primary and secondary education in Indonesian public schools. To achieve those goals, the development and assessment of the teaching materials will be carried out by college students at Mahasaraswati University who are seeking certification as primary and secondary school teachers. Thus the project is organized as a series of projects embedded within the teacher training curriculum at Mahasaraswati. The first year’s goal is the creation of teaching materials for different grade levels that encompass all aspects of the subak/water temple system (social, ecological, spiritual, and historical). Students will participate in data collection for the RAPID project in the field, gaining firsthand awareness of the concerns and perceived vulnerabilities of the farmers and temple priests. They will also work in teams to collect historical data, photographs, and oral histories that will provide the raw materials for teaching modules. The second year’s target focuses on assessment and evaluation of the pedagogical value of the instructional materials. The Web-based teaching materials that emerge from this project will made available on the Cultural Landscape of Bali World Heritage web site and in this way help to fulfill the key educational goals of the World Heritage plan for Bali. While the focus of the project is the development of teaching materials for Indonesian school children, some modules will be translated into English and distributed via the World Heritage web site.
Summary of Recent Activities
Dr. Surata and UNMAS students with farmers from Subak Tampaksiring (photo courtesy of Dr. Surata).
In the first quarter of 2013, Dr. Surata’s previous groundwork in reaching out to local schools to solicit participants in action research exercises surrounding the subak irrigation system yielded six action research exercises. These were carried out by university students trained in the workshops, in partnership with secondary school teachers and students. These exercises took place over six-week terms, involving different methods of teaching and learning. In one exercise, two groups of undergraduate and secondary-school students went through different learning experiences over the period of the exercise. One group learned through conventional teacher-centered learning, while the other learned through a constructive learning model involving field visits to the subak system at Lake Batur Geopark. A second action research item saw a group of three teachers, four undergraduate students, and 90 secondary students engaging in the “think, pair, and share” model of learning. Their deliverable was a concept map based on a series of photographs of subaks in the Nangli and Gianyar regencies of Indonesia. In a third research item, nearly 80 secondary students and five undergraduates, plus two teachers, demonstrated the benefits of collective work for improving learning outcomes. In groups, they observed the subak ecosystem, set priorities, created flow charts, and presented group assignments. In another exercise, five undergraduate students each had small groups of students construct a fishbone concept map to delineate their biological field work observing the subak at the Taman Ayun cultural landscape. In another action research event, video was used as a teaching tool to engage about 40 secondary-school students. These students and five undergraduates were broken up into smaller groups to storyboard, film, edit, and present videos to the rest of the class. Finally, two groups of undergraduates experimented with the bulletin board as a medium of cooperative learning, with learning activities taking place inside and outside of the classroom. In addition to these activities, a workshop for Balinese rice farmers was conducted to show the benefits of living near a volcano. This workshop is meant to lay the groundwork for a June 2013 visit by geography teachers from the Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS), who will observe the subak system of irrigation. The visit represents the start of a new partnership between Dr. Surata and EOS.
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