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Biologieles / Biology class

Op de middelbare school waar ik zat waren alleen maar afdankertjes van andere scholen te vinden. Ikzelf was niet beter. Ik begon in het tweede jaar, zoals de meesten. In het derde jaar kregen we er twee nieuwe klasgenoten bij. Een van hen, een jongen genaamd Abram, bezorgde de klas op een dag veel gegiechel.
Toen dat gebeurde, zat het lokaal van de strenge docente Natuurkunde vol. Het lokaal, waar ook scheikunde en biologie werden gegeven, beschikte over tafels met in het midden een wastafel en eromheen branders, voor het doen van proefjes bij de verschillende vakken. Het was door de opzet van die tafels (denk aan een schoorsteen, maar dan kleiner) niet altijd mogelijk daar met lange benen helemaal behoorlijk aan te gaan zitten. Je zat toch altijd een beetje klem, je benen strekken was er niet bij. Tenzij je schuin ging zitten. Vanwege die wastafel in het midden zat je wel beschut. Boeken voor je leggen en stiekem smsjes versturen was niet zo’n probleem.
Zelf zat ik enkele tafels verder zo naïef als een deur te wezen. Was ik heel goed in, toendertijd. Nog steeds trouwens. Bezig met mijn taken (want die docente was aardig, maar erg op de regels). Ik stond liever in een goed boekje.
Enfin.
Er was commotie en hilariteit die dag, maar niet meer dan ik al gewend was. Het betrof een Montessorischool, dus ieder werd geacht voor z’n eigen leerproces verantwoordelijk te zijn. Geen klassikale lessen dus. Sterker nog: als klas zaten we op een dag nauwelijks bij elkaar. Alleen voor vaste lesuren. Het enige ‘lessige’ aan zo’n les was dat je, terwijl je wiskunde (bijvoorbeeld) zat te doen en vast kwam te zitten met een vraag, er ook daadwerkelijk een wiskunde docent bij de hand was om je vraag aan te stellen. Je kon net zo goed een ander boek open slaan overigens, geen haan die ernaar kraaide. Ja, OK, de betreffende docent sprak je aan, maar dat duurde maar tot die weer terug bij zijn of haar bureau was. Dat viel dus wel mee.

Het was pas na de les, toen Abram het lokaal verliet en leerlingen om hem heen ‘m recht in z’n gezicht uitlachte voor de enorme vochtplek op z’n broek, dat ik door begon te hebben wat ik had ‘gemist’. Hij had zich af zitten trekken bij het zicht op een van onze aantrekkelijkere klasgenotes. Door de wastafel hadden alleen leerlingen die achter en naast hem zaten, iets gemerkt. Jammer was dan wel dat hij een trainingsbroek droeg.

In the middle school I attended were only pupils that had previously been attending other school. I wasn’t any better myself. I started there my second year, like most. In the third year, we were presented with two new classmates. One of them, a boy named Abram, quite caused a stir one day.
When this happened, the classroom of the strict teacher Nature Science was completely filled. The classroom, where Chemics and Biology were also taught, had tables with sinks and burners, for doing practices with the different subjects given there. It was because of those tables (think of a mini version of a chimney) not always that possible to stretch ones longish legs while seated at these tables. You were always a bit restricted. Unless you sat down like you were about to enjoy the sunshine or something. Because of that sink in the middle, you were quite hidden though. Putting your books in a certain angle gave you full phone access if wanted.
I myself was being naieve like always. I’m not sure why, but I was NEVER aware of anything exciting happening. That’s my fulltime job these days. Not noticing stuff. Anyway, I was just doing my schoolworks (because, as said, the teacher was nice, but quite strict on rules) as I was trying to be a good student.
There was a bit of commotion and hilarity that day, but not that much more than I was used to already. It was a Montessori school (‘educate oneself in ones own rhythm’) so everyone was ought to be responsible for your own tasks, thank you very much. We didn’t even really sit together as a class much, most of the day. All years mixed, mostly. The teachers were there to answer your questions, but everyone had books of their own level, so it could be a question on any level, at any hour. If anything, it’s a great method to keep any teacher on their toes, really!

It wasn’t until after class, when Abram left the classroom and fellow pupils laughed at him, that I noticed I had apparently ‘missed out’ on something. He had jerked off looking at one of our more attractive fellow classmates. Because of the sink, only pupils seated directly behind him had witnessed what had happened exactly.

It was too bad really that he was wearing jogging trousers.

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Posted by on November 18, 2017 in Daily life, Humour

 

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Learning Online: Codeacademy

So, I had an idea for a game. Given that I’m not really into games, my idea was/is really quite simple. It’s based on an already existing game, though quite different. Otherwise it would be just a copy, no?
Anyway, with a background in Childcare, I did think: I will never be able to make it myself. Problem 1: I don’t have a lot of money to go to a big expensive school. The schools that I’ve been through for my previous education were all in care…note to self: don’t do that. If you’re going to get educated, make sure you, every now and then, step outside your comfortzone.
For now, that won’t help.
On a party, I met someone who told me: ‘you should go to codeacademy.com! You can learn all kinds of skills, programmingwise, and it’s really quite easy!’.
So, I tried. I tried Python, Ruby and several others. No such luck though.
Not only is everything in English -which is usually not a problem for me, but it apparently is when it comes to learning a new technical skill- but the program regularly gets stuck or isn’t all that clear.

Most teachers like to make a joke, to smoothen the learning progress. The programs on codeacademy seem to be designed to even recreate that little feature. Which means questions that are being asked, can be very literally and serious, but also just a joke. I’ve noticed I had to rethink everything twice and I sometimes simply didn’t get what was being asked. Python especially has this problem, being based on the jolly funny fellas of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

So, my advice would be to ask someone in the business to guide you after all, since it’s very frustrating if you find yourself lost. Codeacademy does provide you with a large forum of possible answers, but I noticed there too that different entries give the same ‘good to go’ solution. And it’s different for everybody. Odd, eh?

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2016 in Opinion, Uncategorized

 

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The Village & Doubt

Two films that seem very different, but actually have quite a lot in common.

The Village is about a small community -they clearly used the Amish as an example- that lives on fear. The children are being brought up with fear that if they do anything around the borders of the village, it will be at great costs. They should just follow the rules, and as soon as someone does something that the elderly have warned them about, terrible things happen. It isn’t a real horror film, so not THAT drastic, but pretty bad anyway.

Doubt is about a convent/school, ran by nuns and priests. This is immediately one of the similarities with The Village: based on faith and the fear that is used for making children do what is believed to be ‘right’. Anyway. One of the nuns notices some odd behaviour with one of the pupils and reports this. This leads to further investigation and nicely stirs up an otherwise so calm and nice atmosphere within the walls of the school.

Both films strongly thrive on the fear that is created within the faith they believe. It connects, but also leads to the road that is believed to be the only right one.

Both films have very strong leader characters. In The Village it’s Joaquin Phoenix, Bryce Dallas Howard, Adrien Brody, Sigourney Weaver and William Hurt, in Doubt it’s Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Viola Davis and Alice Drummond. Both films deliver a classact when it comes to showing the fear, and both films disappoint in showing what the fear is all about.
Meryl Streep does best, which is not that surprising, by being a steadfast tin soldier, in a way. Very convinced at first about what is the right thing to do, then, as the title says, doubts.

The costumes are very much in touch with the community the storylines were based upon, though Amy Adams and Meryl Streep do look a bit like walking-around-lampposts, but still.

I’m someone who likes to see a thrill being fullfilled and neither film does that, but the acting, especially in Doubt, is a joy to watch. And yet, both films make you feel like you’ve just lost sensable time watching Jaws only being a goldfish with attitude.

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2016 in Films, Opinion

 

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Hjordis (review)

Hjordis is another stunningly lovely show on Netflix. I doubt it’s visible in the USA, though I could be wrong about this.
I wrote about Rita earlier, and Hjordis looks like a spinoff of that. A few of the same actors (Lise Baastrup, Ellen Hillingso) and also within the same school.
But either the series is no longer complete, or this spinoff was solely made to bring up the theme of bullying.
You see, the school Hjordis works at, is having a ‘anti-bullying week’ at school. Helle, the headmistress, asks Hjordis to come up with ideas to do something with this theme. It is decided that Hjordis will gather some of the students in school to perform a play. Given that the possibility exists that they get to play for the royal family -who will be visiting the school- everyone is really excited.
Then it appears that Helle, the headmistress, has gotten cold feet. She decides the students of her own school are not nearly good enough to perform for such important people as the royal family. So Helle phones a schooll for gifted children, who can sing, dance and generall perform really well.
The children that Hjordis had gathered are being put aside by these priviliged kids, who are a bit too aware they are awesome and so on.
Hjordis reports the problems of both groups to Helle, but gets no real answer. Helle wants the children to cooperate and mostly, the priviliged kids to do the performances.

When the royal family finally cancels their plans to come and visit, the plans change. This is where it becomes even more interesting. Don’t forget this serie is Danish, where the acceptance of different individuals is, apparently, far more accepted. There’s the girl who is deaf and gets romantically involved, there’s the boy who really wants to dress up as a princess. This brings more problems than you could imagine. Not just for Hjordis, who has to adjust to the idea in about 5 seconds, but also to other teachers, parents and so on.

Meanwhile, the show is brought light and airy. No heavy debates.

It’s a joy to watch. And an eyeopener for those who are so used to classic soaps 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2016 in Daily life, Opinion, Uncategorized

 

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Rita, Netflix

Rita is een serie over een lerares op een Deense school. Rita is er niet zomaar eentje. Ze heeft hart voor de zaak, maar schopt tegelijkertijd zoveel mogelijk ‘heilige huisjes’ in. Ze draagt strakke broeken, rookt als een schoorsteen en voorziet zowel leerlingen, collega’s als ouders van (on)gevraagd advies. Als iets haar niet zint, krijgt ze het wel voor elkaar dat het veranderd. Niet zonder slag of stoot.

Het is een Deens schoolsysteem, dus ik moet heel eerlijk zeggen dat me niet geheel duidelijk is tot welke leeftijd de kinderen precies op school zitten. Ik heb het idee een jaar of 14, 15, maar het kan ook wat langer zijn. Dat er daarna ook nog universitair opgeleid kan worden is ook duidelijk, maar niet binnen deze school. Er zitten echter ook kleuters op, dus weet niet helemaal of dit nu, voor Nederlandse begrippen, een soort gecombineerde school is (basisschool met middelbare school) of dat dit naar standaard Deens model is.

De serie is niet heel ‘rauw’. Natuurlijk zijn de leerlingen brutaal en vervelend, maar het Hollywoodse ‘fuck off, motherfucker’ is hier niet te bekennen. Dat is ook weleens lekker. De kinderen zien er heel fris en verzorgd uit, eigenlijk. De vuiltjes in de lucht blijken eerder uit gesprekken.
Rita heeft zelf drie kinderen en is slechts door een forse haag gescheiden van haar onderkomen. Haar jongste zoon woont nog bij haar, de oudste twee zijn op zichzelf.
Doordat haar eigen kinderen al wat ouder zijn, zie je haar ook haar eigen leven inrichten zoals het haar zint. Sowieso is ze niet iemand om een blad voor de mond te nemen, waarbij ze zichzelf vrijwel continu in de problemen brengt. Sommige problemen zie je enigszins van tevoren aankomen, anderen dan weer niet.
Dat haar jongste zoon homo is en dat ze het met de directeur doet, bijvoorbeeld. Ook dat ze een verleden heeft met de aankomende schoonvader van haar oudste zoon. Het zijn clichés en toch wordt er vooral een lollige draai aangegeven, wat alles met Rita’s karakter te maken heeft. Ze duldt geen inmenging, heeft liever zelf de touwtjes in handen. En dat gaat haar reuzegoed af.
Het is een verademing om eens naar een non-Hollywood serie te kijken, die zichzelf niet al bij voorbaat schouderklopjes uitdeelt omdat ze ‘zo goed bezig zijn’. Deze serie behandeld onderwerpen als abortus, homoseksualiteit, drugs, verboden liefdes, als ‘hobbeltjes op de weg’, in plaats van ‘oh wauw, zie ONS eens goed bezig zijn’. Heerlijk.

 

Rita is a series about a teacher on a Danish school. Rita isn’t a normal teacher. She’s got her whole heart in it and not at the same time. She has big trouble with rules. She wears tight jeans, smokes like a chimney and she gives unsollicited advice to anyone. From colleague to student to parents. If she doesn’t like something, she’ll make sure it changes. Not without trouble. 

Since it’s a Danish schoolsystem, I couldn’t really tell until what age the children are at this particular school. It looks to me like the children are until 14, 15, but it could be elder. It is possible to go to college after this school. At the same time there’s children about 6 years of age at the school, so it’s not the Dutch system I’m used to and I don’t know if this is what all schools in Danmark look like either.

The serie is not that ‘hard’. Ofcourse there’s bullying bastards and annoying trolls here and there, but the typical Hollywood ‘fuck off, motherfucker’, isn’t detectable here. To be honest, it’s nice for a change. The children look very fresh and cared for. The problems appear in dialogues more than anything else.
Rita has three children of her own and is only devided by a big bush from the schoolyard. Her house is just right next to it. Her youngest son, who also attends the school, still lives in with her. The two eldest have flown out.
Since her children are quite grown up, you see Rita making most of her adult life. She isn’t the person anyway to shut up, and this gives her more trouble than less, generally. Some of these problems you see before it’s depicted, others not so much.
Her youngest son being gay and herself having an affair with the Head master, for instance. Also, her having a history with the father-in-law of her oldest son. These are cliche’s that wouldn’t work if it weren’t for Rita’s character. She doesn’t want interference, wants total control. And she does a bloody great job!
It’s a charming non-Hollywood serie in which subjects as abortion, homosexuality, adultery, are handled far more relaxed and therefore quite elaborating. It’s great!

 

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2015 in Daily life, Opinion

 

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Frankies’ Fifteenth

Frankie is a fourteen year old with a funny relationship to her boyfriend George (he doesn’t want anyone to know they’re dating), and an even more weird friendship to her best pal Dabby and a history of not fitting in with her peers altogether.
Then one night, Frankie has a dream. About their gymteacher….
Mrs Pilcher.
Now what?

Fragment of Frankies’ Fifteenth:

” Mathematics class was about to get started.

Frankies’ fellow pupils were stumbling around for spots that seemed alright enough to hide everything that wasn’t studymaterial-related.

A walkman, discman, headsets big and small, chewing gums in all colors, shapes and tastes of the rainbow, nail polish, hair brushes and elastic bands, all shades of velvet tip pens you weren’t supposed to use and other things that weren’t to be exposed until lunch break.

They were badly hidden behind ridiculously big brand backpacks. Without those, you had no point even bringing your beloved belongings to school in the first place. It was the innocent approach of breaking the rules, if you will. Teachers were obliged to object to them, so hiding was the best way to go. The Mathematical teacher, bearded Mr Fennel, was quite easy in approach.

He always pretended he didn’t see it. He didn’t understand what the fuzz was all about, nor did he care. Mr Fennel liked his students and as long as they did their very best, he wasn’t prone to do what was expected.

Frankie Thompson and Dabby Leavy had long found their place on the side. A perfect spot, as it had a set of tables pretty much glued to the wall. Or actually the chairs were. They could check everyone coming in and going out, as if it were a pub and they were about to order a drink they weren’t supposed to have.

The spot had the lovely possibility of leaning back against the wall with their chairs and not be bothered to keep a balance, because of it. Ideal.

Frankie had been growing so fast the past time, it felt quite liberating to her feet not touching the floor for once.

Dabby usually used the oppertunity to insult someone she fancied. Though it was hard to tell the difference, as Dabby always insulted anyone that came across. Frankie was just happy if it wasn’t herself for a change.

Frankie was really only waiting for the right moment to tell Dabby she wanted to go to the library.

Eagerly waiting for the class to be settled down, as the hours just changed and they had to walk and sit down a new classroom.

Looking at pupils who practically emptied their backpacks with all the stuff they couldn’t find. Holding her breath when it looked like they were concentrated so deeply into their works that no-one would even notice her and Dabby to exist.

Patiently waiting like an animal waits for its prey to sit exactly right, ready to attack. Waiting for the surrounding factors to be exactly right: no wind, no dust, no rivals, just an easy to catch moment. A predator waiting to attack. Trying to be a chameleon, to solve into thin air, becoming one with everyone and everything so its presence is not noted.

One could wonder what the fuzz was all about concerning the library in the first place: it were just books, nothing special, right?

But there Frankie was, sweating, trying to fix her skirt in such a way it didn’t look like she was there. Getting rid of every wrinkle in the fabric. Every crumble that could be a spot. Checking her nails, if they were in order. Neatly cut and clean, not long and creepy, like a dead finger or something. She had long and thin fingers, but enough nerves to wind up to make the existence of valium a blessing in the end. She wasn’t allowed any, of course, but her sister sometimes threatened to pour it in her drink when Frankie was acting up again.

‘Shut up or I will put Mom’s valium in your tea!’ but since Julia wasn’t here, Frankie felt she could bite her nails the way she liked. Besides, Julia also, would have no idea what it was Frankie got so worked up about. Why would she? Frankie never shared her secrets with anyone at home. Not since Terry had revealed Julia’s favorite type of underwear during dinner. And not in a subtle way either.”

Get your copy at:

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2015 in Projects, Promoting

 

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Wiskundeleraar/ Mathematics teacher

Hoewel ik heb begrepen dat wiskunde, in het algemeen, als saai wordt gezien, zou dat natuurlijk voor elk vak kunnen gelden. Er zijn weliswaar vakken waarbij de instant ‘vermaakfactor’ tamelijk hoog is, maar als ik terugdenk aan m’n eigen schooltijd, waren het eigenlijk vooral de docenten die een vak leuker of vervelender maakten.
Ik kende niet veel mensen die Frans een leuk vak vonden. De dame die dat gaf trok haar neus dusdanig hoog op dat je je soms afvroeg of ze de vloer überhaupt weleens zag. Laat staan de brugpiepers.
Degene die Duits gaf was daarentegen weer dusdanig lief dat je als leerling totaal geen drang voelde om aan je werk te beginnen.
Hoe dan ook, ik begon dit stukje over docenten wiskunde en het toeval wil dat ik eigenlijk alleen maar leuke docenten heb gehad in dat vak. Met een ervan had ik een vriendschappelijke vechtpartij in het lokaal (kan dat dan? Ja, dat kan), waar een andere, die ik later had, het werk van een ander over ging schrijven.
Dat laatste was opmerkelijk. Er zijn wel meer leerlingen die elkaars werk overschrijven. In dit geval was de leerling in kwestie daarmee bezig geweest, van tafel gelopen om bij een andere tafel een gesprek over iets heel anders te beginnen (Montessori-systeem, dus geen klassikale les) en had het over te schrijven schrift op z’n tafel laten liggen. De leraar, die zijn gebruikelijke rondje door de klas heen liep, merkte op een goed moment de lege stoel op en keek eens in het schriften die er lagen.
‘Goh, dat kan ik ook wel’, sprak de docent, nam plaats naast de twee andere hoogst verbaasde leerlingen, en begon het geheel over te schrijven. Opwindend gegiechel alom, want we hebben het hier over een leraar die niet snel geneigd was dit scala aan grappen uit te halen. Eerder de persoon om je met de ernst van een priester toe te spreken als je iets fout had gedaan. Daarnaast was het nu de kunst om te zorgen dat de jongen die van z’n tafel was weggelopen, niks zou merken. Een soort surprise-party.
Puur vermaak. De jongen in kwestie was niet dom, maar wel degelijk hilarisch onopmerkzaam voor z’n omgeving.
Nadat bijna het halve schrift was overgeschreven, dreigde hij weer terug te lopen naar z’n tafeltje. De wiskundeleraar sprong haastig op en liep terug naar z’n eigen plek.
De jongen nam plaats, zijn tafelgenoten deden braaf of hun neus bloedde, en richtten zich op hun eigen schriftjes. Ondertussen werd de jongen, zonder dit door te hebben, door de hele klas bespied. Zijn gezichtsuitdrukking ging van nietsvermoedend (‘oh ja, daar gaan we weer’) naar verbaasd (‘huh?’) om vervolgens op te kijken, omringd te worden met starende ogen die hem vervolgens uitlachten. Hij lachte net zo hard mee, want hij had het handschrift dondersgoed herkend.
Dat waren nog eens tijden…

Even though I’ve understood that Maths is considered to be, generally, a dull subject, this could be the case for any subject, obviously. Ofcourse there are some with a certain ‘entertainmentfactor’ is already present, but thinking about my own past attending school, it was mostly the teachers that made subjects either fun or horrid.
I didn’t know many people who truly liked French class, for instance. The lady teaching the subject held her nose up in the air so high there was doubt if she ever noticed the floor. Or the small juniors passing her.
The one who teached German on the other hand, was such an utterly sweet lady that no one ever felt the need or the urge to work hard. Or at all, for that matter. You expected the kettle to sing its merry song any minute and the biscuits to be served.
However, I started this piece about Maths teachers and the fact is, I really only had fun teachers for that subject. With one of them I had a friendly fight in the classroom (is that possible? Yes, it is), and a different one wrote someone else’s notes into the notebook of a student.
That last one was quite remarkable. There are pupils who will copy each others work, this is a known fact. In this case the pupil had started to copy someones work, had left the table to start a conversation with someone else about something completely unrelated to Maths (Montessori-system, which is without a teacher to teach the lesson, this is done individually by need) and had left his notebook open on the table. The teacher, browsing the classroom, noticed the two notebooks open on  the table, checked what was inside.
‘Oh well, I can do this!’, said the teacher, sat down between the two highly surprised pupils who shared a table with the boy that just walked off, and started to write. Excited giggles all around, since this wasn’t part of the kind of behaviour we were used to from this particular teacher. He was more the preacher kind of type if you’d done something wrong. And now we had to make sure the boy who’d left his table, wouldn’t notice anything.
Like a surpriseparty.
Pure entertainment. The boy wasn’t stupid, but very hilariously unaware of what was happening. After practically copying half the notebook, the boy seemed tempted to return to his table.
The teacher swiftly returned to his desk in front of the classroom.
The boy was seated, his table companions pretended like nothing happened, concentrating their attention to their own notebooks. Meanwhile the boy was being observed closely by everyone in the classroom. His facial expression went from unsuspectlingly (‘here we go again’) to surprised (‘huh?’) looking up from his notebook, being surrounded by all these eyes being pointed out to him, to a full classroom laughing at him. He joined the laughing matter just as much, while turning scarlet, for he knew the handwriting very well.
Those were the days….

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2014 in Daily life, Humour

 

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