The Edyssee: a journey from Finland to Singapore
In November 2019, we met with all members of the Acceleration Plan for the very first time. 24 hours, or actually two days, the event lasted. Two days of getting acquainted, exchanging thoughts, knowledge and ideas, making connections, and looking for collaboration. The 24-hour session was a great success and everyone was looking forward to this year’s edition in October. But October was still far away, so we decided to organise a spring meeting to keep in touch and to be able to continue to learn from each other. But COVID-19 had other plans. And so we moved our Spring Meeting online, where we were taken along on the journey of Erik and Luuk Ex, two brothers who travelled from Finland to Singapore to see what education looks like abroad.
The second half of our Spring Meeting consisted of a presentation by brothers Luuk and Erik Ex. In the academic year 2017-2018, they drove from Finland to Singapore in their mother’s old van, to learn about education in various countries. What brought them to this? And what have they experienced? They told us this from Erik’s living room, neatly five feet apart, in front of the webcam. Not easy for them, presenting without an audience, but they managed well. Luuk is a journalist who works at De Balie. Erik is a history teacher and teaches at the Cygnus Gymnasium.
During the presentation, Erik explained that his job as a history teacher in secondary education was the reason for the trip he made with his brother. After eight years of teaching, he was wondering: “How can I best teach?” He was convinced that he could learn a lot from his colleagues, so he regularly took a seat in their classes. He did the same thing on holiday in Uganda. And there he realised he could learn from colleagues all around the world.
“Erik sent me a mapped route from Finland to Singapore and asked “Will you come with me?”, said Luuk. Erik wanted to drive from Finland to Singapore, because both countries have high scores on the PISA ranking, even though the countries are far apart, both geographically and educationally. And so they went from Finland, via Russia, Turkey, Oman, Iran, and Myanmar, to the final destination Singapore. They documented their journey for de Volkskrant in a series of videos. They showed some of the videos in their presentation, which gave us a nice little insight into the journey of the two brothers.
Luuk reflected on the journey: “I was amazed during our journey. In my work as a journalist, I was never involved in education. My work mainly focused on immigration and integration issues. I did not realise at all that education is considered important all over the world. I have learned that teaching is a tough job, there is no rest for teachers during a school day. In that respect, it is like top sport. We have seen lessons that made me realise: this teacher is working really hard.”
If you ask Erik in which country he would prefer to teach, his answer is The Netherlands: “Education is culturally determined and I can add the most value here, where I know the culture. When we started this journey, it wasn’t really about finding the best education for me. What I have found is that all education that is good, is provided by good teachers. And we can learn that best from each other. Looking at others in their classroom has taught me the most, both what the good things are, and what doesn’t work. In my opinion, cooperation is something that can help education and educational innovators move forward.”
Curious about the first part of the Spring Meeting? Read about the Q&A session with the team leaders of the zones here.