Fourth grade teacher, Cora, and I return from a week long trip to the Netherlands where we shared ideas with Dutch educators. In addition to experiencing three different schools in different parts of Holland, we had the opportunity to visit a university, participate in a conference, reside in an artists’ enclave, and of course, sight see.
We were struck by the similarities of the Dutch education system to ours. We saw schools pressured by the standardized tests. We saw teachers conflicted between wanting to teach the whole child and wanting to ensure that each student had attained basic skills. And we observed that children (and parents) are the same all over and that everyone wherever they are, want what is best for their kids.
A few things stood out for us. One was the idea that any group of people could ask the government to start a school so within the public school system, there were Catholic schools, Montessori schools, and other different types of programs. We also delighted in the motto: Be Kind. Work Hard.
We saw a school with a strong emphasis on community and we also visited another school on its Presentation Day, a day somewhat like our museum days at BNS.
At the conference, we heard from educators who had visited schools like BNS in the United States and who were now trying to bring what they had learned back to the Netherlands. The theme of the conference was mastery.
Cora and I presented as well. We explained how early childhood programming such as Shore School is the foundation for upper grade inquiry. And we took pleasure in featuring the work in Josh and Cora’s class, including the website, the BNS Climate Journal, which fourth graders, Narwhal, Noie, Langston, Anna, Madeleine and Hugo had made. As the kids said, “We thought if we announced the problems of our planet openly to the world we could make a difference.” Lastly, we shared a video of a fifth grader doing his Performance Based Assessment. As one of the participants said, “When I didn’t look at the video, I imagined a much older person speaking.” It surprised her to see these big ideas coming out of the mouth of this ten year old child.
On Wednesday, May 1, BNS graduate Toby Pannone will speak to us at a town hall meeting about the upcoming Kids Walk for Kids with Cancer, an issue dear to his heart. Toby is a cancer survivor. Hear about his successful struggle here. Join Toby at the Kids Walk on Saturday May 4 or contribute here.