In recent weeks, we have followed with horror the news in which teachers have had a prominent role. Or rather, they were the object of suffering. Teachers get the feeling that they are walking on eggs and no longer dare to say or show what they want to say or show for fear of threats. Such self-censorship does not belong in education, but it is there, more and more often. The list of ‘sensitivities’ in the classroom is growing, as is the number of ‘observers’ from outside the classroom. It’s not just a subject like cartoons.
As educational institutions in Rotterdam, we believe that everything can be shown and said, embedded in the pedagogical and didactic vision of the educational institution or study programme. For the record: not everything can be shown, everything should be shown. Teachers have the freedom, in the context of the pedagogical-didactical design of their study programme, to organise their lessons as they see fit without censorship. Not to provoke. Not to make a political statement. But to teach young people how to interpret today’s complex world.
Learning from each other
Education must be a safe place where we can learn from each other in complete freedom. Schools are the ideal place to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, where there is room for everyone’s opinion and to respect someone else’s ideas. It is only in such a safe environment that students, teachers and other staff can fully develop their talents.
After all, education is the place where we practice for society, a breeding ground for our democracy and the rule of law, where there is room for difference and dialogue on any subject. Purely to learn to understand each other better. We do not have to agree with each other, it can and will rub off on us, but (the threat of) violence should never be the result. Even if these images or opinions rub off, let this also be a call to all the people around our pupils and students. Give young people their education.
We do this in an inclusive way in Rotterdam. That’s why, in recent years, we have set up activities aimed at a safe working environment, giving respectful feedback, preventing discrimination and discussing sensitive issues. From the point of view of equality of opportunity, attention for students in minority positions is essential in all areas.
Earlier this year we drew up the manifesto ‘Schools: the training ground for citizenship’. An important rendezvous in the manifesto – which is endorsed by the municipality of Rotterdam – is that teachers are supported by their school board when they practice with pupils or students. We also prepare prospective teachers for this role in our training programmes, and teachers can receive (additional) training if they do not feel able to lead sensitive discussions or challenge students to express their opinions, for example.
We stand behind our teachers.
That is why we want to underline once again that we stand together behind our teachers. Our teaching deserve that. Our teachers deserve that. Our society deserves it.
We are accountable for this.
- Primary Education
- Secondary education
- Secondary vocational education
- Higher vocational education
- Scientific education
Rotterdam, 16 November 2020