Universiteit Leiden

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Lessons for better education

If you could design your own education, how would you do it? That is what the students of the Bachelor Honours Class 'Rebuilding Education' asked themselves. The students were divided into five groups in which they designed workshops to improve education. They presented their workshops in December in the Old Observatory. 'When you criticise education, you should try to come up with a solution as well.'

The honours students started this educational project two months ago. They met up on Wednesday evenings – ten in total - to listen to all kinds of interesting guest speakers, all experts in the field of education. 'We were able to listen to wide range of guest speakers,' says Maura, a philosophy and pedagogical sciences student. 'Topics varied from creating motivation among students to preparing a good pitch; from creative ways of education to mental health of both teachers and students.'

"Students get the chance to execute what they have come up with"

Making plans

This variety was also reflected in the different pitches of the five student groups. One of these anticipates that pupils would be more motivated if they understood why they go to school. They want to achieve this by developing a start-up plan for mentors, so that discussions are held about this topic during pupil-mentor counselling at school. Another group is putting together a workshop for PABO students with which they hope to prevent bullying. All students base their projects on existing scientific research.

According to the students of this Honours Class, there is plenty to improve in education. ‘When you criticise education, you should try to come up with a solution as well,' says Maura. 'Complaining about what is wrong is easy; figuring out how to do it better is a bigger challenge.'

The weight of responsibility

It was a major challenge these students dared to take on. The fact that honours courses demand more from students than curricular courses is beyond dispute, says Maura. ‘We were given a lot of freedom as well as the ability to add a personal touch. You had to manage your own time. That is great, but it also entails a lot of responsibility.

Despite the added weight of responsibility, the Bachelor Honours Class proved to be a success. 'It went very well,' exclaims Yentl Croese, co-organizer and Learning Experience Designer, enthusiastically. 'I am very impressed. Both by what the students have achieved in such a short time and by the large number of interested stakeholders.'

Bright future

Stakeholders were also present to discuss possible collaborations. 'They indicate that they really want to implement many of these ideas.' It is not compulsory for the students to actually conduct their proposed workshops, but it is encouraged. 'Still, I think that many – if not all – groups will carry out their projects effectively,' Croese says. 'The great thing about this course is that students get the chance to execute what they have come up with.'

Two projects have already received confirmation that they will be realised: the Innovation Challenge for Leiden University and TikTalking about You for elementary schools. Croese sees a bright future ahead and hopes that this will become an annual Honours Class. 'So many workshops on all kinds of topics remain to be devised. Education is far from being fully developed.'

Text: Marciëlle van der Kraan
Photos: Buro JP

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