Yvonne van Hest is responsible for the PEOPLE domain as Program Director at Brainport Development. Her columns focus on regional developments, backgrounds and trends in education and the labour market.
My youngest son is in group 8, the final class of elementary school. We chose the school he is at 7.5 years ago for two reasons. It is the nearest school and his big brother was already there – and the school was okay. When he came in group 8 early this year, we were quite critical. He came into a new building that had been closed for a number of years because of leaks and his class turned out not to have a classroom, but structurally to bivouac on the corridor. He also had a new teacher. And with new teachers, our experience is that you always have to wait and see.
But after a few weeks of new school experiences, I already felt it. The vibe. Such amazing stories, such enthusiasm! And especially when I had spoken to the new teacher and seen the ‘class in the corridor’, I was convinced. This is education as education should be in my eyes. The basics – subjects like math & language – are in order, with a lot of attention for 3O-learning*, elements like news understanding, presentation, economy, Spanish, and of course English. And not only for WizKids like mine but for the whole class, each at their own level. Completely in line with what we call ’21st Century Skills’ or ‘Future Skills’, building on the three most sought-after competencies in the future, according to the World Economic Forum: complex problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity.
Who says education cannot change? In 10 years time, this school has evolved from a good neighbourhood school to an excellent Brainport primary school. And that makes me proud and happy. Because it is possible, with passionate and motivated teachers. The question is: how do we keep this passion and motivation alive and how do we stimulate it? And I think that also has to do with the way we organise our education, the opportunities for teachers to continue learning and of course also the leadership at a school.
So we still have a way to go. With a growing shortage of teachers in primary education, I think this must be one of our greatest social concerns because education is our foundation.
I promise you that I will contribute to this in the coming years, professionally and as a parent. And my son? He has already interpreted and presented a whole tv news show, knows what a state budget is and can count up to 10 in Spanish. Sparkling.
* 3-O learning = ‘onderzoekend-ondernemend-ontwerpend’: researching, entrepreneurial, designing