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The Head, Heart and Hand Concept

Curriculum in Indonesia is, more or less, based on Asy’ari concept of 3 Hs (head, heart, hand) but the terms are changed into Cognitive (head, or intellectual thinking), Affective (heart, or social emotion). Psychomotor, on the other hand, cannot be defined as the concept of hand because, according to Asy’ari, hand means producing or creating.

The essence of the concept hand is to generate students to create or produce as Bloom proposed it in his taxonomy as the last stage in learning. It is incomplete to suggest that the concept hand is learning by doing or activities which require students to move or use their muscles. The term psychomotor is not similar to the concept of hand as suggested by Syafii’s view but the psychometric activities – does indeed – derive to a handful students.

However, the concept hand is also implemented in our current curriculum. Thus, even though we use different terms, or defined slightly different, the initial concepts are kept the same – we also find the 3 Hs concepts in our previous curriculum, too.

The concept Head can simply be seen in our current curriculum as the activities of teaching - learning processes. In fact, the concept is expended more; it means that the students are not only expected to understand and comprehend the subjects but also analyzing the subjects, or simply put, the higher order thinking (hot). In implementing the concept head, todays teachers are so well-equipped on giving students to be able to have the capability of hot. Thus, the concept head - in our current curriculum - is well implemented.


Back in the day when Asy’ari was implementing the 3H concepts, the concept heart was merely on being good students or good citizens. In present-day, the students are expected to be more than good-hearted individuals, they are familiarized to be tolerant, good team worker, have compassion and sympathy, etc.

Moreover, the concept heart implies the questions such as what should students do after acquiring the knowledge, whether to do virtuous or harmful acts, or just to keep the good knowledge.

The concept heart is developed for every school level in Indonesia. We can clearly see that every student, starting from elementary to high school, is exposed to the Syafii’s concept of heart.

As presented above that the concept of hand is creating or producing, it is observable that the concept is well-organized and clearly be seen in vocational schools. Students are well-prepared to handful activities that make them skilled in creating useful products.


However, we cannot say that other schools – non vocational schools – do not deliver the hand concept in their teaching - learning activities. The product can be as simple as autobiography, essays, ideas for drama performance etc. Thus, the conclusion is that all three concepts of Asy’ari (Head, Heart and hand) are implemented in our current curriculum.

What to Teach in EFL Class

It perhaps has come to our mind on the idea that we don’t know about how to teach English to our students. Some might say that the way I teach is confusing my students. Other might say that teaching English for complete beginners is practically impossible. These are problems the we, teachers, face today because we could not differentiate between language and skills.


In teaching English, there are two main domains that teachers need to understand and comprehend, system/language and skills. These two should not be mixed since both are not the same things and one has very little to do to the other. 

Language/system (language will be used) deals with the pattern of the language. On this domain, there are 4 items that need to be taught in the class; vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar and function. Vocabulary deals with the meaning of a word; pronunciation deals with how the word is pronounced; grammar deals with the structure of words; function deals with meaning of the structure of words, grammar (we will discuss this in depth letter on).

Skill, on the other hand, is the ability to use the patterns of the language, in other words, the ability to listen, read, speak and write. Our understanding of language/system is applied or used when we listen, read, speak or write. Thus, it is acceptable to state that language and skill are two different things which should be taught separately. 


Additionally, reading and listening skills are called receptive skill, and likewise, speaking and writing are called productive skill. Thus, teaching the English language – and any other languages – should be focused on teaching one receptive skill and simultaneously teaching one productive skill. In other words, when students receive an input, they need to produce an output, for example, teaching reading and consecutively teaching speaking. 

In teaching English, some researchers suggest to use 1/3 of classroom activities to teach language and 2/3 to teach skills, one receptive and one productive. This is not to suggest that language is less important, but teaching skills requires more time and more tasks, so students understand and able to use the language. It is believed that teaching language could be indirectly while teaching skills (more reading on this claim is suggested). 

One of the misconception that we, teachers, believe is correct is that we tend to integrate teaching skills and language – which as we discussed are two separate things – into one activity in the classroom. How come students who have limited range of vocabulary able to read an article. This is none sense. We need to teach them language first (e.g. vocabulary) before we teach them reading. Thus, teachers should aware of this dilemma that teaching language should come first prior to teaching skills.


Teachers, sometimes, tend to fix students’ error of how to pronounce a certain word while he/she speaks. This act resulting not only the problem of mixing language and skill but also the problem of distracting students while they speak expressing ideas. 

To conclude, teaching the English language by blending language/system and skills either receptive or productive will only mislead students and worst of all, the instructional aim could not be more unaccomplished.
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