The notorious IPS


Across Indonesian high schools, tenth grade students choose to study an emphasis area that will (hopefully) prepare them for university. Students can choose from two focus areas: IPA (sciences focusing on biology and chemistry) or IPS (social sciences focusing on geography, history and economics.) The classes are then broken up based on student preferences, and generally followed throughout the rest of their SMA careers.

However, at my school, as with most across the country, the IPS classes have been branded with a bad reputation. They are the “lazy” students, the “not serious” students, the “bad” students.

When I began teaching at SMAN 1 Panawangan, I was partnered with just one of the three, native Indonesian, English teachers at the school. When we got our schedule, she was quick to thank Allah, and her fortunes, that we would be teaching all of the six tenth grade classes, but only the IPA classes of eleventh grade.

“We are fortunate, IPS is much harder to teach, the students are, perhaps, not serious!”

She was quick to explain.

Many volunteers across East and West Java got the same spiel in their first weeks and, whether true or mere placebo effect, my fellow volunteers began to complain more and more about IPS, with that special nose crinkle and eye roll everyone dreams is used when describing them — not.

Well, it’s time for me to come clean, I admit it: I love IPS.

I love my IPS classes both in tenth and eleventh grade. Perhaps it’s because I relate to the social science focused students as opposed to their alien math-minded peers, but I’m into IPS.

In general, my IPS classes have more energy, they laugh more, and talk more. They are faster to volunteer, and always ready for a game. They are far less worried about making mistakes or embarrassing themselves. They are always interested in trying to talk. They are curious and goofy.

Disruptive? Yes, sometimes. But who likes a quiet classroom?

It’s time to end the unnecessary looking down upon our IPS classes and stand proud to teach them. To prove to them that they are just as wonderful and smart as their IPA counterparts. That they have just as much potential.

If I had had the choice in my high school, I would have certainly been an IPS student.

IPs and proud!