The Importance of Good Character and Professionalism for Those with a Degree in Education

In the Indonesian language, teacher is translated as "guru". In the Javanese language, "guru" stands for "sing digugu lan ditiru", that is, somebody that deserves to be listened to and to be emulated. A teacher, therefore, does not only teach, but also educate. Education plays a major role in character building.

Law No. 14 Year 2005 on Teachers and Lectures stipulates that teachers are professional educators whose main responsibility is to educate, teach, guide, direct, train, assess, and evaluate the students of the early childhood education, primary education and secondary education.

Based on the Law, a person with a degree in education is in fact an educator as well. Being a teacher with a good personality and professionalism at work will positively impact the students and even the surroundings. How to be so?

Building Good Character

Sholeh Fasthea, an educational trainer and spiritual motivator at the Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University, mentioned three basic principles to become an educator who has good character. The principles rely on the idea that educating people should be seen as "upholding trusts", "creating works", and "empowering others".

Firstly, educating people is about upholding trusts. A teacher should always teach earnestly according to the predefined system in order to educate the students. Secondly, educating people is a work of creation. It means that a teacher should not only do his/her job, yet a teacher should also create monumental works. The monumental works here are knowledge and character building of the students. Thirdly, education is about empowering. A teacher should not only empower him/herself, but also the students to be alert and tough people to face the world.

An educator can establish the awareness and understanding regarding the meaning of the job he/she is doing by comprehending the value of his/her profession according to those three principles.1

Becoming Professional Educators

A professional educator does not only teach. According the Prof. Dr. Dede Rosyada, MA, rector of Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University, a professional educator must be prepared by a systematic and comprehensive learning process. As stated in Law No. 14 year 20015, chapter IV article 8, a teacher must meet certain academic and competency qualifications, earn credentials (academic certificates), be physically and mentally healthy, and posses the willingness to achieve the national education goals.2 A teacher should also join some continuing education and training programs, workshops, seminars to be more well-experienced and skillful.

Both good character and professionalism are highly important for those who are going to earn or even already have a degree in education. What Etyk Nurhayati has been doing can be a good example3. As a Math teacher at State MTs Piyungan, Bantul, Yogyakarta, she implements good character and professionalism when teaching. Therefore, Math has no longer become a frightening subject for students. Math now is a so enjoyable subject that her students can understand it. She is the exemplary role model of a teacher.

By understanding and implementing good character and professionalism at work, those who are going to be the educators of the nation will undoubtedly be able to participate in nurturing the high quality next generation of the nation.