Doetinchem – Graafschap College believes that it is important to be aware of research and to stimulate an exploratory attitude. An open attitude helps to find new solutions to new situations and increases the flexibility of students and teachers in this rapidly changing society. Sander Berendsen has written a book about this: ‘Learning from stories’.
By Hans Hissink
In addition to the method description, the book also contains 25 ‘narrators’ from very different backgrounds. “Teachers, researchers, entrepreneurs, (former) students and career counselors tell inspiring and honest stories that lead the reader from different angles to daily (pedagogical) practice and to an environment where they themselves experience energy, joy and inspiration.” Sander.
For Sander, the presentation of the book is the crowning achievement. In recent years, as an innovation teacher, he has been involved in research and design of career-oriented, hybrid and open learning environments at the interface between education and the labor market. He did this together with coaches and researchers from Hogeschool van Arnhem and Nijmegen. “I looked at how we can create a learning environment that is in line with business, the rapidly changing world and the identity of our students. In education, we are used to transferring knowledge. But you notice that knowledge and technology are moving so fast, and moreover, that the world is becoming more and more complex, that the insights of today and tomorrow are already obsolete by time. ”
“With the methodology that has been developed, the students are asked to stay close to themselves. What makes you happy, what do you do well, what do you like to do, and what do you want to make an effort. If you then listen to the students’ stories and notice them, it generates a lot of energy. In the corona period, we have had to do it much more than before. You did not want to lose the student while teaching online. The relationship with the student is very important, ”explains Sander.
The start of the new method was with students who had to submit reflection reports. “These were reports that were all mandatory and with deadlines attached. Reflection, learning from experiences that are meaningful to the student is a unique process and different for everyone. In vocational education, it is important that students gain real (work) experience during projects, issues and / or internships. In this way, they learn to discover what they like to do or do not like to do. Complex issues are increasingly being tackled together with the business community. ”
If the students get their own responsibility, then according to Sander many good things are created. “Then they come up with their own ideas, they start thinking for themselves. Some were also a little unsure about it. They tell me what to do and then it’s ok. Everyone has different ways of learning and there are different strategies to make learning meaningful. Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone for that. ”
The methodology requires a lot from the teachers. “In this method, they have more of a coaching role. It is a misconception that one should let go of the familiar. It is always the discussion with these new pedagogical concepts. It is then said that students cannot make their own choices, but they must learn to do so. This method is therefore not only about what the students like, but also about formulating and linking appropriate learning goals, providing teaching and feedback based on the (national) requirements, and what the student needs. ”
As a teacher, you would like to have these students in the picture to see what the next step they can take. Many teachers are enthusiastic about this ‘new learning’, some say they are better at transferring skills and knowledge. It’s great that teachers can also express what they want. This method teaches that everyone can learn in their own way, including the teachers. “
Working with the new method is a real job. “Teachers must increasingly (learn to) link the student to current issues from society or the labor market. It’s quite complicated. Especially if you are used to teaching groups at school with fixed schedules. ”
The new learning method is not suitable for all teaching teams. “The teams must be ready and they must be on the same page. They must believe in project-based teaching and that learning does not only take place in the classroom. And of course, emphasis must be placed on the student’s history. There are different teams inside and outside Graafschap College. who are interested, which will create a broad learning network. ”
There is more freedom in the form of learning and choice of learning methods. However, this does not mean non-binding. “You often read and hear that students are released. Then you can ask the question whether it is because the children are not able to make choices or if the teachers are shy to act. Students cannot make choices, reflect, or learn a skill all at once. It will be done step by step. “Turning point
There seems to be a turning point in the vision of learning. “Previously, you got a test after ten weeks, which you got a grade for, now it is more of a continuous process. It requires a lot of the teachers. One has to build a different culture and put the relationship between student and teacher first. ‘I can do it’, ‘I can do it myself’ and ‘I belong’ are the three conditions that matter. If there is that feeling among the students, then you feel that it is no problem to be in school from nine to three o’clock. “
For Sander, it does not stop with the presentation of the book. “Someone recently said ‘it’s a kind of soldiers’ handbook and now out in the field’. I hope new stories emerge. It’s going to spread now. I get questions if I want to come and tell about the methodology. The time is ripe for learning methods where students learn to choose, learn to think for themselves and deal with (social) issues and tasks in collaboration with ‘the real world’. If we really work together, our society will be more beautiful! ”