shit happens….

Op woensdag om 16.18 uur met de trein naar Den Haag voor de uitreiking. Helaas: problemen op het spoor, mobieltje bijna leeg. Om 18.00 uur lopend naar de Finse Ambassade waar ik om 19.00 uur verwacht word, de speech-in-het-Engels ( in de trein heb ik die nog veranderd én stevig geoefend ) in mijn zak. Bij de ambassade is alles donker; mobieltje dus maar aan: 11 berichten van mijn gastheer! Wat blijkt? De bijeenkomst is in een ander deel van Den Haag en duurt nu nog 5 minuten! Om exact te zijn: hij is verplaatst in tijd en plaats zonder dat het mij verteld was. Taxi’s zijn allemaal vol en dus weer door de sneeuw drie kwartier teruglopen naar het station. Ik koop maar de NRC en stap in de trein.
Tot ik zie dat toen ik in het station liep een duif zijn best heeft gedaan: de krant helemaal onder de poep! Druipend!
Shit happens.
Onnodig te vermelden dat op de terugweg een wissel bevroren was en de bovenleiding gebroken.
Kwart voor tien thuis.
Bijna 6 uren ”Finnish”.

De niet-uitgesproken speech:

Ladies and gentlemen
I would like to give a short reaction, a statement, an ‘elevator pitch’ in less than 4 minutes. I was really very happy after having read Finnish Lessons. I will tell you why and give you a side note to that as well. The reason I got so happy whilst reading it, is because it confirms allot of what I wish to see in our national school system. In spite of the fact that 2400 years ago Plato had already predicted the school system would decline, I still read about us keeping our position in the world’s top educational systems, having the highest density of top universities in Europe and possessing the happiest students in the world. Contentment is everywhere. Even more because apparently the aim isn’t to have a good educational system, but to have a very good  one and also because the time is right for that: within 10 years 37 percent of the teachers working in secondary education are going to retire. So come quickly reformers, do not let this opportunity pass you by!

I am not going to be a party-pooper and react to that with a snide comment, but I am going to nuance it with a critical one. That nuance concerns ‘the paradox of education and upbringing’. I quote: ‘The premise that education is partly responsible for the upbringing, is one that nobody will disagree with’. What follows from that responsibility is a task, the task of the up bringer to be exact, which apparently is something everybody seems fine with. Not me. I will start with quoting a part of a column I wrote last week:
We all ”know” that
   Nietzsche wrote about ‘Untermenschen’,
the trains were always on time under Mussolini,
Christ was born on the 25th of December,
judging by the number of dots you can figure out the age of a ladybug,
the Eighty Years War lasted 80 years,
the Germans say ‘im Frage’,
the Rhine enters our country in Lobith,
from Marathon to Athens it’s 42.195 meters
and ……. by eating allot of carrots your sight will improve.
Seneca also belongs in this list for writing once ‘non scholae sed vitae discimus’, and claiming school is there to prepare students for the society. Education is far too important to use as an instrument for maintaining or confirming a society. Education is not conservative, education is forming, education is creative, education is not a place for promoting non-smoking, for preventing homophobia and encouraging condom-use. Education should shape people in a way that they will someday shape society, not having the responsibility to maintain it in the first place.

How will we get there, from good to very good?
Unlike in any other relationship, education offers a product whose quality depends on the consumer. Whether you buy a plastic bucket at some cheap store or I, will not effect its quality. However, every teacher knows that education starts and ends with the relationship between student and teacher. Therefore, more than anything else, I would like to pay attention to the Bildung, which is more than Maths and English, it is ethics, it is philosophy, it is reflection, it is what the ancient Romans called ‘Festina Lente’.
When it comes to my attention that even De Volkskrant have measured and judged schools by quantitative estimations, I see a great danger in going from good to magnificent.
However, for now, this book Finnish Lessons made me very happy!
My elevator pitch stops here, talking about Bildung: we are on the topfloor!

Jan Verweij