Day two — it is time for an adventure
Early in the morning we learned about the “Noordwijk” method, a way of teaching that involves the use of both left and right hemispheres of the brain to achieve more effective learning. The method emphasises the need to help students understand themselves; explore, discover and develop their talents; learn new skills; and to encourage them to apply their talents and skills on projects. To do so, teachers have the flexibility to design the projects that have personal relevance to the students so that students feel like they want to do something about it.
And today I followed the group to Laterna Magica, a very special and successful school which was by no means typical even in the Netherlands. Thanks to arrangements by the school, we were able to visit a few classes and delivered guest lessons.
What we found to be quite amazing was that the students did not appear to have been under supervision, and could totally focus on their learning activities. Some were obviously engaging in group assignment, and others preferred to work on their own. They were so focused they could almost ignore the presence of their visitors.
The new word was ‘atelier’ — an open workshop where students do what they want to do. Here is what was made free accessible to the kids in the woodcraft atelier. That’s right, there were many saws that were left dangling on the shelf, and I think that’s sign the tool has been in high demand. What I did not capture in photo was a kid who was working hard to cut a wooden block with a huge saw. It did look like he was ready to cut his finger in any minute, but perhaps he had been well trained to use the tool.
Students are free to sign up for different activities and learning opportunities. The freedom to choose means letting them take ownership over their learning progress, but it certainly does not mean there is no supervision and no assessment. Each student has an individual learning plan for the entire year, and the plan is updated four times a year by teachers, parents and the students themselves.
Our HK teachers were teaching the kids to make “fotomo”. Everyone appeared to be very curious and attentive. This is probably only possible when the students themselves had chosen to be there.
Then it was time to go home. The parents were taking the kids home the Dutch ways — on bikes! The students don’t carry much as there is no homework to take home.