Philipsburg, Sint Maarten — On Wednesday the 27th of January, a new lesson plan on Slavery and Human Rights was introduced at the Asha Stevens Christian Hillside School at Cay Hill.
One year ago, four students from the University of Applied Sciences, Iselinge, in the Netherlands, did research on Sint Maarten. They wished to develop a method through which youngsters in all parts of the Dutch Kingdom could learn about their shared history and the ways in which that history has shaped the world we all live in today. The four students interviewed many individuals on the island and developed a lesson plan for one whole month combining history, geography, biology, social science and arts to make pupils work through issues related to identity, Human rights and international relations.
This lesson plan is part of an ongoing project in the Kingdom of The Netherlands that addresses the ways in which pupils imagine different ways of belonging. This project is a joined effort between the University of Sint Maarten, The University of Amsterdam and the University of Utrecht. For this project, PhD candidate Jordi Halfman has been conducting research in different primary schools on Sint Maarten since August 2015. As part of his project, the lesson plan has been shared with schools on Sint Eustatius and will be taught in the Netherlands this spring.
In cooperation with Miss Halfman, one of the Iselinge students, Tanja Lenderink, returned to the island to teach the lesson plan at Asha Stevens Christian Hillside and Martin Luther King Jr. On Wednesday the 27th, Ms. Lenderink presented her experiences and recommendations to a varied audience at Christian Hillside.
After the presentation a lively discussion ensued.
Mrs. Holiday-Davis, head of the education department, shared her believe in the need for but also the sensitivity of a program about slavery. Ms. Marva Sam, Cycle 2 principle at Christian Hillside was asked to share her experiences with the lessons and the way teachers and students had responded to it. Both Miss Sam and Principal Johnson of Martin Luther King Jr. expressed their enthusiasm about the project. Ms. Sam emphasized how much she had liked seeing the children work together, exploring their own history and learning from exploration. She emphasized how well this fitted in the FBE curriculum.
Both Principals expressed their wish to further integrate the lessons into their curriculum. Mrs. Asha Stevens, founder of the Christian Hillside School, was happy with the fact that arts, music and role play are also part of the series, so that children are not just learning intellectually but also start to feel proud and learn to take different points of view on a topic that is so complicated and sensitive. She made clear she believed the lessons should be part of the Christian Hillside curriculum and Tanja Lenderink from the Netherlands expressed her wish to be part of this in the future.
Former Minister of Education Mrs. Bourne-Gumbs proposed that a workgroup with individuals from all school boards would be formed to discuss the possibilities of integrating the lesson plan into the curriculum so that all children of Sint Maarten would be able to be exposed to this new method and develop self confidence and pride. Dr. Guadeloupe from the University of Sint Maarten and Mrs. Holiday-Davis then agreed on working together to explore the ways in which this could be made possible.
photo: Presenter, Tanja Lenderink