Children’s Campus Zuidas: LIFELONG LEARNING WITH AN INTERNATIONAL CHARACTER
Amidst the tall office towers of Zuidas, the striking timber building set in natural surrounds immediately stands out. With 70 different nationalities all together, the campus is an impressive melting pot of nationalities, where there’s always more to learn. “We’ve got teachers who have been teaching for ages yet are still coming up with new ideas and visions all the time. And I teach adults as well”, says Hans Hardeman, who gives the school’s special ‘Worldclass’ and is its internationalization coordinator. “Of course, you’re never finished learning, no matter your age”, adds Jet Hilberdink, Group 8 teacher and teacher supervisor at the Children’s Campus.
Jet Hilberdink’s work centres on developmental education, while Hans Hardeman is focused more on the school’s international dimension. Together, they explain the philosophy guiding the Children’s Campus. “Developmental education is our mission”, Hilberdink says. “So, in my job I’m continually asking the question how we can implement particular themes in the subjects we teach.” Themes such as ‘law’ or ‘gardening’, which the children learn about and explore through play. “For example, the other day our theme was gardening, so they learned all about taking cuttings. Then, during recess, you see them going about and interacting with nature in a completely different way. That’s amazing to see”, Hilberdink smiles.
Melting pot of nationalities
Having spent 16 years working at Dutch schools abroad, teacher Hans Hardeman is perfectly placed to welcome newcomers to the Children’s Campus and show them the ropes. “More and more expats and internationals want to enrol their children in regular primary schools, and our methods at the Children’s Campus are ideally suited to that. We’re a unique mix of Dutch and international where children of all nationalities are free to be themselves.” The campus also offers a special ‘Worldclass’ to help international pupils brush up their Dutch language skills. The class is taught by Hardeman, who also teaches adults. “I teach them Dutch, just as I do their children”, Hardeman says. “Because I engage with so many different cultures, I’ve started an international coaching course to become more specialized in that.”
The Children’s Campus is very active in lifelong learning as well – a concept that applies as much for pupils as it does for adults and staff. Hilberdink explains, “We want to encourage kids and adults alike to keep pushing their limits and stay open to new things. That comes through in things like how we support our staff by offering articles and podcasts to deepen their knowledge.” Independent study is an important element in this. “The school board is very open to continuing your studies and taking courses – it’s all possible here”, Hardeman concludes, “and that’s quite exceptional.”