Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Netherlands - Day 4 Escape Room Puzzles and more hospitality

Our Hotel was a nice Best Western Hotel in the heart of the City. Each morning before we started the day we had breakfast in the Conservatory. This was a beautiful part of the bar and in the morning was a quiet place to sit and enjoy the usual buffet style breakfast found in most European hotels. A mixture of hot and cold meats, eggs, fruit, cereal, and pastries. Tea was the most disappointing with hot water in a flask that was far from boiling. Maggie Smith summed up our disappointment beautifully in the second best marigold hotel.

Today was mostly a school day. The student used the morning looking at different ways to put puzzles into their rooms and devise other puzzles for them to work on. I showed them a couple of options that could be changed to be included in their theme for their room, this wasn’t really planned as the Dutch teacher was late coming from the other site. The students got on with making their puzzles and device the theme and plan their room.

This was also an opportunity for me to go to an English Maths Lesson in a Dutch school. Confused? Well, this was one of the bilingual classes. The learn the same thing as the students learning in Dutch but the whole lesson was taught in English. This really separates us from Europe as we would never think about bilingual teaching but if we did which language would we choose? My son learns Mandarin at his school and has additional lessons on top of his normal timetable but I couldn’t begin to imagine trying to teach Maths in another language. I guess this is where we differ but are incredibly fortunate. It seems that the preferred language to learn in Europe is English and a lot of countries are learning it as an additional language and teaching subjects in that language mean that the students will get a better grasp of the language.

The topic for today’s lesson was quadratics and the students had to find vertices and complete the square. Classic quadratic learning but what was really interesting was the notation. There are a number of differences that are employed in Europe and are in their textbooks too. What was really interesting was their textbooks was that their textbooks weren’t English they were a translated version of their Dutch books so the notation was the same and any English conventions were “Lost in translation”! The teacher was amazing at getting the ideas across in English and was really receptive to the differences I pointed out. Some of the students tended back to Dutch when they were speaking to each and when I challenged them to only speak English I was told “but we are Badass!” This was hilarious and as the teacher pointed out was a perfectly English response.

The afternoon gave us a chance to explore Harderwijk town before dinner in the main square. Harderwijk is almost in the center of the Netherlands and has been around since the late middle ages. As with most European towns and cities of that era, there are a number of impressive churches in the town with bell towers that are so impressive. The church outside our hotel had a bell tower is over 20 bells in and these are all pitched so that they are really musical and on special days or during the run-up to Christmas they play recognizable tunes. This isn’t commonplace in the UK as most churches in the UK are lucky to have a bell in the tower and some Cathedrals will have up to 8 bells.
The main town center displays the old city walls that have long been ignored as the boundary of the city as expansion in all directions has happened since the 15th Century. There is still construction going on all around and the waterfront is having a huge investment in new housing going up. There is an eclectic mix of architectural styles in Harderwijk from the start of the town, typically Dutch style houses and also modern housing too.

Dinner was the main square at Luigi’s restaurant. The name would suggest an Italian restaurant but the menu was a mix of all styles similar to the food you would find in a pub chain in the UK. The food was good and it was lovely watching the world go by as we sat in the square with the last remnants of the Sun filling the square with warmth and light. It was great having a chat with a couple of the Dutch teachers over dinner to talk about life in a Dutch school.

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