30th May 2023

Dznena Grozdanic is a professor at IUS – International University of Sarajevo. In the framework of Intervet Western Balkans project, she participated in a Job Shadowing experience at Da Vinci College in Dordrecht (Netherlands) together with other 11 teachers from Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. Upon her return she shared her impressions about the experience.

The Netherlands: The land of tulips, windmills and bicycles

I had the chance to visit the Netherlands in a period from 17 to 22 April due thanks to the educational program Intervet Western Balkans. This was my first time in this interesting country. Holland is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy and the capital is Amsterdam. Rotterdam’s harbor is a Europeans largest harbor. This country has a long history of a social democracy and I would like to focus on important values on which the Netherlands society is based upon which are: education, culture and being outside.

About Da Vinci College

If you are interested in leading projects, innovative education and creativity, then you should visit Da Vinci College in Dordrecht.
Da Vinci College is a complex of 9 buildings connected in one big unit called Leerpark. Every building has a unique name and color. In every building on higher levels are VET schools. On the ground floor there is the student info-center, but also rooms for practical work, for example a restaurant, a hairdresser salon. The name of College tells us that creativity and activity are the most important components of successful learning. The whole complex was architecturally designed that you enjoy in every single way. There are buildings with different purpose: work, relaxation, education and other activities. A combination of beauty and functionality.
„Education doesn’t change the world. Education changes people. People change the world.“
Education in the Netherlands was already sophisticated in the 19. Century. The values of being outside in the nature on the fresh air were recognized. First teachers were some kind of story tellers. They told stories from posters that hang on the walls and so they taught history, geography, art… (National Museum of Education, Dordrecht)

Less theory – more practical work

Vocational education in the Netherlands is a combination of little theory and more practical work. The education of the 21st century gives us new learning models and these are very well accepted. Some of the methods are based on research and learning by problem solving. This research method is a preparation for independent information and facts surveys. Problem solving problem methods allow us to be more creative. Students at Da Vinci College get problems and they need to solve them individually, in pairs or in a group. For this project they get some time. For example, graphic design students have to design a poster for some happenings or a magazine.
A very good example of good practical work at Da Vinci College for me is the Sustainability Factory. Here we can see students and companies working together. They are specialized in smart industry, general and maritime technology, energy transition and control engineering. One startup company is located here in this factory. They use school machines and Da Vinci students do some practical work for these companies. This building is very well practically and technically equipped with great machines and equipment.
The classes at Da Vinci College are organized in 4 stages. The first three are based on projects and the fourth on exams.
In the first photo we can see a poster made by Da Vinci students for a Jazz festival. In the second photo we can see the innovation potential of a startup company which is located in the Sustainability Factory: it is an electrical boat.

Internationalization and mobility on Da Vinci College and Nuffic organization

Nuffic organization is a Dutch organization for internationalization. A whole team of people who work on a promotion of education improvement through school cooperation. Together with digitalization, internationalization is a very important issue that helps vocational education to connect and upgrade some institutions. Da Vinci College is included in many Erasmus projects. These projects give teachers and students possibilities to exchange information, knowledge and experience. Internationalization is based on international business, learning foreign languages and gathering intercultural skills, which are very important for the future. Students are trained for the international and intercultural labor market with the help of different programs of mobility. This kind of interaction can be realized at home through the so-called „Internationalization at home“ with the help of different applications. The goal of Da Vinci College is to give every student the opportunity to be a part of internationalization.

Interculturality and inclusion

Interculturality and inclusion are among the top priorities in the Netherlands education system. „Interculturality“ means openness to other cultures, customs, languages, while „inclusion“ is a term for a process of acceptance of every person, notwithstanding their cultural, ethnical, sexual, religious, physical and psychological differences. This two terms helps us to create an open society ant they are very important for education. Projects with focus on intercultural exchanges are very important and they need to be a part of educational curriculum.

In healthy body, healthy mind

Da Vinci College recognized that harmony between physical and mental wealth is a crucial for normal functioning in today’s accelerated life. Sitting culture and passivity are a result of a fast development and digitalization of society. How to stay healthy, how to deal with stress and this accelerated life style? Students and teachers ask themselves this questions. At Da Vinci College they have some therapies when it comes to this. One of this therapies is Rock and Water therapy, exercises with interaction for relaxation of body and mind. There is also an exercise called Fear of failure for boosting/strengthening self-confidence and solving problems. The famous sentence „there is no bad weather, just bad clothes“ is for a long time a very common in the Netherland’s society. Biking every day as a great exercise, but also being outside can prevent bad habits of today’s society. I also like to cycle and I am going to talk with my students about this very important topic.

During the time spent in Holland, I met new people and made new friends. I met people who share the same passion for teaching. Young people sometimes just need a tail wind. I will use gained experience in a classroom. I want to thank International University of Sarajevo for a great opportunity.

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