Philosophy is one of the lectures stated on the first semester English Post Graduate schedule. I know nothing about Philosophy and I thought I will never have any fun in Philosophy courses. To make myself free from nervous and feeling afraid, I joined the Sundanese Philosophy lesson in the morning (7.30-10.00) with Professor Asep before I put myself in my own Philosophy class in the afternoon (13.00-15.30). My reasons for joining Sundanese Philosophy are to make bridge of knowledge to Philosophy of Science that is given by Dr. Musthafa, in the hope that I can understand Philosophy of Science better and I thought I will understand Sundanese Philosophy because Sundanese is my mother tongue, so I will understand any explanation given in my own language. But, Sundanese Philosophy and Philosophy of Science are two very heavily different things. Prof. Asep discuss about who Sundanese people are, where they are from, and what life-philosophy they use to regulate their daily lives. On the other hand, Dr. Musthafa wakes students’ mind to see how Philosophy influences education in practice and can really educate people- including my friends and I who are novice learners on Philosophy.
I like Dr. Musthafa’s teaching method very much. He is very different from other lecturers. I will never forget when he patiently helped my friends and I to be a good reader. He informed us that there are four hierarchy of reading. All of which are Elementary Reading, Inspectional Reading, Analytical Reading, and Syntopical Reading. I realize that my position is an Elementary reader, the one who try to understand what the text says. But Dr. Musthafa trained my friends and I to be Analytical Readers using his own unique way. He commanded us to focus our attention on “What is Philosophy?” by Mark I. Vuletic. He clearly said, ’the title promises us that we will able to understand what Philosophy is’. He explained what every paragraph meant and how to understand them. I could see that he is a wise and patient person who can not get mad at our stupidity. At the end of our first meeting he asked us to think what we got that day and put it on a journal. He added that we must read What is the Philosophy of Science by C. West Churchman.
Churchman piece of writing was hard to understand and I almost gave up. Dr. Musthafa gave me a real challenge to be an analytical reader by giving me task to read Churchman and I admire how he could make me learn to read and write. I like the way he takes his students to the right path in learning and be an educated individual. He showed us how to do and act on something in a rational-acceptable way not merely in theory. For example he told us to have ‘selfish agenda’ to find our own writing style through imitating what others had made. This is very realistic and useful suggestion. I took many advantages from that short sentence. I almost never write and never had any courage to write-even write for myself-start imitating what others did, and then eventually I could communicate what I had in mind in the written form. I guess Dr. Musthafa is the only man on earth who made me believe that I can write and my writing is readable.
I dare to write what I had in mind; I consider it as is a big leap in my life. The learning journal task given had helped me a lot to step on the words world.
Management to control over scientific study which is ethic so that science useful that is what Churchman offers. Dr. Musthafa lead us to see what actually written in text is, what the writer’s message is and consider whether the solution given by the writer reasonable or non-reasonable. There are rules of game, he told us. Every piece of writing has its purpose. Churchman had purpose through his writing and we were taught to connect with Churchman. We were trained to communicate what we understood in the written form. Dr. Musthafa suggests that we should start with skeleton then flesh it out. But practice is not as easy as theory. I got headache how to flesh thing out by using effective words. I had never done such a thing in my life.
He asked to give flesh by using sentence that represent “How to think English”. I felt a bit embarrassed, I did not use “think English” but “think Sundanese” so far where malapah gedang (say our intention indirectly even sometimes using metaphor) is considered polite. He gave us example by showing us what fronting is so that we go straight and put the idea in the right position.
Dr. Musthafa taught us not to do dumbing down in written and oral work. If he said I had taught you, empower you, lead you to right track so I had given you enough. I would say that I had never had enough. I still need his fair advice, his point of view toward thing using different angle. I determine that I should never stop learning from him. I will join his class even though I have no lesson contract with him. I still need to learn how to propose and expose a delicate matter using simple words like he did. I can recall what he showed us in observing an issue. He held a book. The front cover is blue and back cover is white. He asked us what color the book on his hand is. We agreed to say that it is white since we see the back part of the book. He smiled and said, ‘this book is blue as see blue from here. It means that we should not judge too early on everything. You must see it first, learn it, and understand it, after that you can say something’. This life-lesson kind is found only in his course-a precious lesson that can change my life-and others-through the true Philosophy. A lesson that does not only change habit of mind but also attitude outside the classroom and it is the basic goal of education: ‘change’. Through “What is science; On What Science is, I was also taught to see that the goal of learning does not make myself reach the highest scale on ordinal rate, but learn how to empower myself so that I become a useful person as a part of a community.
Sometimes Dr. Musthafa offered serious joke that made me think hard. He said ‘never disagree because you disagree’, or critiquing does not mean criticize but appreciate a matter in a bit outside norm’. He stated another sentence to be digested ‘creativity makes one skillful, but one who is unskillful use his wild creativity will close to insanity’. Many sentences that he murmured in his teaching when he was ill caused me realize that I must not make any statement before I am really sure I understand the topic being discussed. He taught me to be a good listener and a responsible speaker and thoughtful writer.
I never get bored attending his lecture. Once I entered the class and my body was wet because of the rain. I always feel that I will learn and get something new and useful from every and each meeting he presented so I ignored my shiver body for feeling very cold. I feel that I did not merely learn about Philosophy of Science from him. His lectures made me try to internalize the philosophy of life into my own personal life. I believe that one who can live using the right philosophy of life she can live a true life and will not need to ask why I am here in this world. Some people study to China, some others do Yoga and meditate until come to become one with the universe feeling, just to get and can understand the philosophy of life. I got a life-philosophy from Dr. Musthafa. Through his teacher-talk; he explained that the major responsibility of human on earth is getting the micromind as closely in touch as possible with the macromind. Balance is the point here. Actually the questions ‘what is real, how do we know and what is of value?’ will help us to live in balance. If we know the nature of reality, the nature of knowledge and the value system, all human will live in peace and happiness guaranteed achieved.
Journal entry submits every week made the learners better learners. Submitting entry every week should be applied in the next year Philosophy of Science course. It makes the learners not only read what Philosophy is, but also facilitate learners to learn to write after reading. Write after reading is a perfect exercise to know whether the reader understand what the text say. And the learners will learn a lot from at least submitting 14 entries in a semester. I myself learn from my own entries. I can feel the changes from every entry I submitted. Even though I do not know what my instructor said about them, but at least I learn that “read first then write”. Meaning, I can not write anything if I did not read first. By engaging with many books or texts, I file information into my head piece by piece. As the books I read add in number from time to time then I have an issue to write. In my first week and my first meeting with Dr. Musthafa I get shocked as he asked me to describe my experience in class and what it meant to me.
Actually the condition will not torture me if I had experienced on describing my own experience and ability to see the advantages of every action I did. Dr. Musthafa offered a negotiation at our first meeting. I did not think that he would ask to describe it on words. I did not know what to write. Then I surf the internet to see how others describe their experiences. I read, and read, and read-the activity that I am not fond of- and reading hurts my eye badly. I went to the Doctor to check the tense of my eyeball if it is too high-I am a carrier of Gloucoma: a disease that make the sight lost gradually and end in blindness as my left eye does. But I did not stop reading; my only right eyeball had worked very hard everyday to make myself have something to write. And I could submit my Entry 1, Entry 2, and all the entries commanded by my lecturer. Indirectly his tasks to write an entry train my only eye to stand looking at pages and I know my eye strength after that.
Somehow I feel that Philosophy courses change me mentally and physically. I said physically as the effect of readings affect the eye’s strength. Mentally means I learn a lot of life-lesson. I believe both empower me to feel ready to welcome the upcoming semesters. I feel very lucky to have Dr. Musthafa as my Philosophy of Science lecture. He, through his teachings and lecturing make me feel confident and believe with my own novice ability. Somewhere, someway I always pray for him. He is needed to fill every heart of students with his advices, his fruitful life and academic lessons.