The Importance of a Good Education is Priceless

Tessa van Zadelhoff is a primary teacher in the Netherlands. Instead of studying European cities from a traditional geography book, she and her students opened a travel agency in their classroom…The Bear travel agency. 

Via Twitter and a blog, students provided travel advice to a network of supporters – their “customers.” They searched accommodations, transportation and entertainment around the city while calculating costs via Excel. Students also made digital tourist guides, videos, digital storybooks, translation guides for tourists Dutch-English and Dutch-French.

If you could change one thing about today’s “system” of education, what would it be?

We talk a lot, I think too much, about results. Of course children have to learn how to read and write, and they have to learn how to do their mathematics. But that is not the only thing that is important. I think that you have to provide your students with skills like problem solving, cooperation, communication and critical thinking. These so called “21st Century Skills” are also very important to succeed in life.

What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?

Be creative, be flexible, observe children and their needs, and open your classroom (also virtually) for the world. Don’t get dusty!

How can other educators facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned?

Don’t use the schoolbooks and traditional teaching methods too strictly. Use your imagination, and ask the children in your classroom what they would like to learn. Make use of the possibilities that education technology can provide you. Use social media, exchange experiences with other teachers, use collaborative networking in your classroom.

What is your greatest hope for the future of education?

My hope is that all children and teachers in the Netherlands will have the opportunity to use new technologies for teaching and learning. I hope that teachers will see the importance of preparing children for today’s and tomorrow’s world. At the moment, money is a big issue. From where I stand, the importance of a good education is priceless.

And you, what is your opinion about the use of social media in education?

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About Tessa van Zadelhoff
Primary school teacher (year 7 and 8), ICT teacher, second runner up in the “Extending Learning Beyond the Classroom” category at the Partners in Learning Global Forum 2011
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irthplace/date: Helvoirt, The Netherlands
Current residence: Oss, The Netherlands
Website I check every day: http://www.twitter.com
Person who inspires me most:
Not a specific person but my social network is very important
Favorite childhood memory: First day of summer holidays, six weeks of adventures ahead of you
Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Probably France (pleasure)
Favorite book: BoekTweePuntNul www.boektweepuntnul.nl – a book about web tools, web 2.0 and social media – made in a co-creation project with 125 authors. I initiated this project with my colleague Louis Hilgers.

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