Wayang as an Alternative Learning Method to Solve Indonesian Problem in Education and Culture

    Astri Setiamurti*, Nur Hannah Muthohharoh, and Moh. Miftachur Rizqi

    Undergraduate of Human Ecology Faculty, Bogor Agricultural University

    *Corresponding author: astri.setiamurti@gmail.com

    In the conventional learning process, teachers just use one media, such as audio and visual. The use of media makes students less motivated to learn, however this is what happens in most schools in Indonesia especially in rural areas. They are still using teacher learning center method, where teachers are dominating in learning process and students are passively listening to what teachers convey is. This paper aims to provide an interesting and enjoyable learning method, and also could be used as a character education for students. It also preserves the Indonesian traditional culture, Wayang. A college student movement that did the environmental campaign by using Wayang Bamboo showed that the students gave a positive respond. In addition, the campaign materials were more internalized within themselves. Wayang is one of Indonesian folk art that uses bamboo, wood, or leather which are carved in detail. Wayang performance is using audio-visual methods that can attract the attention of the audience. Then, Wayang has its own values and the philosophy is closely related to people’s lives that can be used as a moral education. It is concluded that Wayang is a potential method to be applied to students.
    Keyword: Learning method, education, culture, wayang.


    Learning method used by a teacher will be influential on a student learning achievement. In some areas in Indonesia, especially in the rural areas, the teachers still use Teacher Center Learning (TCL) and use only one media, the audio media. In the TCL method that just use one media, teachers are dominating in learning process and students are passively listening to what teacher convey is. This makes a classroom atmosphere seemed monotonous and causing students get bored easily. In addition, it also decreases the motivation to learn and furthermore reduce the creativity of the students. While in the Student Center Learning (SCL) method, teachers act only as facilitators and students are asked to think and discuss their opinion. Teaching and learning process should be built as comfortable as possible so the learning goal can be accomplished. Because of that, we need more communicative teaching method that use an attractive media, one of them is using Wayang as media learning. Wayang is one of Indonesian folk art made of bamboo, wood, leather which are carved in detail. Wayang performance is using audio-visual methods which can attract the attention of the audiences.

    In the globalization era, a nation will get an identity crisis if that nation can’t maintain their culture. Aje (2008) said that in terms of ideology, political, economic, social and cultural future, if it can’t be anticipated the era of globalization and the information will be threats, challenges, obstacles and interference in the acculturation process of ideology values of Pancasila and the 1945Constitution. Wayang is one of Indonesian culture that began to be abandoned by the community. By using Wayang as a teaching media, students can more easily understand the subject matter and also know Indonesian culture. Furthermore, the Wayang are able to answer the problems of education which is currently being discussed in Indonesia, it is about moral education for students. The values ​​contained in Wayang can provide a wide range of moral lessons that are taught to students. This paper explains how to find a way out of trouble with the perspective of every community that has values ​​and culture respectively.


    The method used in data collection is observation and literature study. Direct observation of activities carried out in a college student movement when practicing the Wayang as learning media at  Cihideung Ilir Government Elementary School, Bogor district, Indonesia. Besides, the activities of Program Krativitas Mahasiswa Pengembangan Masyarakat (PKM-M) at Gunung Batu Government Elementary School, Bogor dictrict, Indonesia. Literature studies conducted to obtain secondary data as well as supporting the observations to reinforce the concepts that will be used to look at phenomena that exist in the field. While the primary data obtained from unstructured interviews with a student activist.



    Problems of Learning Methods

    As explained before, learning process in Indonesia is more directed at the TCL. This method has some weakness, such as the lack of active involvement of students during the learning process. The class may seem boring if students only hear the teacher’s explanations, because someone has a certain capacity to be able to focus. The atmosphere will lead the students to do not pay attention to what is conveyed by the teacher and find something else to do. In this case the teachers must be more creative in teaching process, such as by using media learning. One of media media learning that can be apply is Wayang. Wayang can be apply as a media learning to explain some subjects, such as explaining the process of metabolism, the teacher can create a story that played with Wayang so the students will be interested and know what their teacher convey is.

    When students can understand a subject matter and they do it happily then that knowledge does not only stored in short term memory but can also be stored in long term memory. Apply Wayang as media learning can improve students’ memory because the audio-visual learning method is more memorable than the audio only or visual only. Implementation of apply Wayang is enable to make interaction between teachers and students. This requires both teachers and students to participate actively in order to understanding and sympathy each other. In addition, it can enhance the imagination of students so that students become more creative.

    One of the mistakes in the education system in Indonesia was more referring to the Western education system and less emphasizing the potency of local culture. In fact by using the potency of local culture will lead to a sense of closeness and a sense of belonging to learn more from teacher or from students. In addition, students can learn more about the traditional culture of the region.

    History and Types of Wayang

    Wayang is an original culture in Indonesia. UNESCO had declared Wayang as Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity Indonesia in 2003. Indonesia has various types of Wayang which are spread all over the Indonesia region and every region has different characteristics Wayang. According to Ahira (n.d), Wayang as a culture of Indonesia has significance in the community. The functions of Wayang are:

    1. Education. Wayang’s stories, shapes, and characters contain the values ​​of the philosophy of Indonesia. For example, the stories about God, nature, goodness, and crimes.
    2. Information. Wayang  is communication media in terms of delivering the message.
    3. Religion. Wayang was performed on special occasions. Mainly ceremonial reinforcements to resist, and ruwatan (freeing influence evil spirits).
    4. As entertainment. Wayang  is a folk art entertainment. However, over the times, the Wayang becomes entertainment for all walks of life.

    Table 1 Types of Wayang Based on Materials

    Types of Wayang

    Wayang Kulit

    Wayang Golek

    Wayang Gung

    Wayang Orang

    1. Wayang Purwa
    2. Wayang Madya
    3. Wayang Gedog
    4. Wayang Dupara
    5. Wayang Wahyu
    6. Wayang Suluh
    7. Wayang Kancil
    8. Wayang Calonarang
    9. Wayang Krucil
    10. Wayang Ajen
    11. Wayang Sasak
    12. Wayang Sadat
    13. Wayang Parwa
      1. Wayang Golek / Wayang Thengul (Bojonegoro)
      2. Wayang Menak
      3. Wayang Papak / Wayang Cepak
      4. Wayang Klithik
      5. Wayang Beber
    1. Wayang Timplong
    2. Wayang Arya
    3. Wayang Potehi
    4. Wayang Gambuh
    5. Wayang Parwa
    6. Wayang Cupak
      1. Wayang Gung (Kalimantan Selatan)
      2. Wayang Topeng (wayang orang menggunakan topeng di Kalimantan Selatan)
      3. Wayang Suket


    Source: Adopted from http://id.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wayang

    The table above shows the types of Wayang based on the materials. The wayang were derived from various regions in Indonesia, for example, Wayang Golek from Sundanese, Wayang Kulit from Javanese. And each Wayang has their uniqueness according to region of origin. By using Wayang as a learning method, we assess the way out of problem in education and culture based on they own perspective. Also this method is using the values ​​that have been rooted in the community, so it will be more easily internalized and persist in a continuous.


    Previously, Wayang was used as an education media in religious diffusion and moral education. But, this method just use in informal school because formal school wasn’t a common thing in Indonesia on colonial era. So, people in that era using Wayang to educate their children.

    Wayang as a Learning Method in Formal School

    Every region in Indonesia there is a local content lesson. The aim of local content lesson is to learn about the culture of each region. But these lessons are usually only filled with learning the local language. In fact, there is potential to learn and introduce the Wayang in this lesson. Wayang is not just an ordinary Wayang but Wayang has its own chemistry with different philosophies within a community. As mentioned before, the first Wayang used in informal education. With the various advantages of Wayang, from unique form to the values ​​contained in the Wayang, it can be used as a learning media in formal school.


    A student movement at Bogor Agricultural University did an environment campaign at Cihideung Ilir government elementary school. The campaign was not done with one way communication, such as lecture method. However, the campaign presented in two-ways communication which make the students interesting and want to learn more by using Wayang. Some students became Wayangeers and Wayang Wayangs played with various characters. The messages of environment campaign were delivered without sounding patronizing. And the result, students interested and continued to follow the storyline Wayang. It can be proved with the student is required to play the Wayang and recounted the story, they were be able to retelling the story. It means that the use of Wayang can be the learning media that can help students remembering the lesson.

    The use of Wayang as learning media had also been carried out in a Student Creativity Program Community Development (PKM-M) entitled “Innovative Concepts ‘Garbage Bank’ to Develop Creative Studio Practice-Based Multimedia Environment Nuanced Wayang People” (Nurmayanti, AW et al., 2011). In this program, students use the Wayang as a medium for eco-action campaign to the students. Based on the results of the report indicated that the use of Wayang as a media campaign to attract the attention of students, as well as be able to help students understand the material presented.


    Wayang to Build Moral and Character of Students

    The use of Wayang as a learning media in formal school can also serve as a moral teaching to students. The stories in a Wayang are very diverse with different figures include protagonist and antagonist figures. Wayang figures can serve as role models to act and behave in life because every character has a different personality. By introducing the Wayang characters gradually, the students will feel having Wayang as their own. Furthermore, Indonesian culture issues can be resolved and the problem of low achievement in education can be resolved.

    Using Wayang as a teaching method not only will helps students to understand and remember the subject matter that presented by the teachers, it  also can be the media to build moral education for students. With various kinds of Wayang, characters and different stories which is owned by the various ethnic groups in Indonesia, Wayang have a philosophy that can teach about morals to students. According to Doni Koesoema in Zuhryah H (2010), character education is an anthropological structure that focused on the development process continuously to improve himself as a major human with actualizing values ​​such as perseverance, responsibility, generosity, and others.

    Using Wayang as a teaching method can be applied to all of the students, especially the early childhood or preschool and elementary school. According to Hastuti W (2009), moral parenting to children can be done since an early age, even the concept of good and bad, right and wrong is the first lesson about the moral should be given to children because it is considered effective in implanting moral and spiritual children. Giving of moral education should be implanted early in order to attach the individual child to adult children, so children are able to overcome these problems as adults. According to Ericson in Hastuti (2009), childhood should be implanted to the moral parenting of children as this would be firmly attached and is more easily done.

    Philosophy of wayang stories contained the culture of each region in Indonesia.  Stories of wayang are delivered to the students provide a lesson about the many positive things such as the planting of the value of honesty, modesty, shame, devout worship, filial to parents, etc. These positive characters are now urgently needed by the young generation of Indonesia to rebuild the nation’s moral. Starting from little things like honesty can lead to solve a larger problem, such as corruption.

    Moral problem that occurred in Indonesia almost found at various ages, from children to adults, and from mild to severe levels of crime. At the age of the children for example, found children who smoke, steal, etc. Besides moral damages in the teenage years such as fighting, drug consumption by sex, whereas in the adult age levels of corruption encountered. People who have had no shame and no fear of the God will be more willing to commit a crime. Therefore, character education must be applied early by using a Wayang through the philosophy of the story.

    According to Astuti (n.d), moral and character education is a dynamic capability of sustainable development of human to hold the internalization of values ​​to produce an active disposition, stability within the individual. Character education that provided to students is closely related to the concept of holistic education. According to Zuhariyah (2009), holistic education is an education that develops the potential of psycho-emotional, social, creativity, and spiritual concept of child. This concept illustrates that the education given to children are not just limited to education through the usual text taught in schools and is only concerned with cognitive aspects. It should concern with affective and psychomotor aspect too.

    The concept of holistic education is what can be found in the stories of the Wayang through the philosophy contained in it. The moral messages that are conveyed to students can teach various positive nature and also the students can more easily understand and remembering the lesson if it conveyed in form of story. The use of Wayang stories can build the imagination of students. Usually students have an interest against a figure of his idol. Figures contained in the Wayang can be an idol for students because of the positive nature, uniqueness that wayang has. Thus the use of Wayang can be a reference to students in a positive act. Besides, the use of Wayang as a teaching method can help to preserve the national culture that has begun to erode.


    It can be concluded that Wayang has high potency to be an alternative learning method to be applied to students, especially for kindergarten students and elementary school. Wayang can make students more interested so that they can understand the lesson more. Wayang also provide a variety of teaching about the values ​​contained in the Wayang story. Thus, the use of Wayang is able to overcome the problem of education in Indonesia which is still emphasis on cognitive aspects. Furthermore, Wayang will able to serve the media in educating the character and moral of students so Indonesia will printed the generation that good in moral and character.


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