1. Miss Els
Have I ever told you that I used to be a child?
First Class
The future
I was with some forty boys in the first class (group 3) of the St. Servatiusschool in Dinther with Miss Els. All my classmates later chose their own way. Bob Barten became Dutch champion Enduro-riding in 1999, Marco V. became a popular trance/techno dj, Rob van Herpen became a manager purchase Sligro Food Group Netherlands B.V., Lambert van de Ven became a consultant at Fontys and Jos Hermans became a priest in Schaijk.
When I met Miss Els recently, I asked her whether she had tried to prepare us for the future at the time? ‘Of course’ she said. “And now we are living together in the future” I said. “Did you have this image at the time?” “No, of course not ” she reacted and she continued with a classical story about the internet era.
That means that we are preparing children for a future of which we do not know what it will look like. Not that we know nothing about it, but the pretension that we would know exactly is incorrect. Everything is moving. Everything is changing. Why is it that in ‘education and development’ we often stick to pretensions, while we know that they have a high unpredictability.
Sixth Class

Marco V
Marco V   “On my ninth I took speakers out of radios and built my own discotheque with lights. With a cassette recorder I recorded songs from the radio and with the pause button I tried to get the presenter out. Just music! My teachers did not know that I had a discoteque at home. School and home were two worlds. If I had been allowed to play records at a school party my teachers would have seen me differently. That I know for sure.”

“I play a lot of energy. That is communicating. I determine if the public will get loose. That means getting a kick. But that my taste is popular with a big audience is luck and has nothing to do with talent.”

“If you played football you had examples. I did not have a professional example. I have always made what I thought was beautiful myself. Of course I did it with my public in mind.”

“It happened or it did not happen, no matter if there were 500 or 50.000 people.”

“I had to learn a lot that I do not use anymore. The most I learnt from travelling. That changed my view on the world. It everybody would travel more, fewer people would have a black-white view. You have to feel different shades. It differs per country, per age and per discotheque.”

“I play records by feeling. I like to spread the heavier records over the evening but if it is necessary I already crack them in the beginning.”

“Maybe all children preferred going to school but me.”

  All those boys in the first class read ‘tree’ at the same day, ‘rose’ at the same day and ‘fish’ at the same day. The day was special that you could write your own name under a piece of work. Or rather draw because the letters were forms that were copied from an example. I remember the particularity of my own letter. The ‘M’ was of Marcel. When we got the ‘M’ I committed myself to the abstract alphabet.
At present children are used to the more schoolish contents much earlier. Children in group 3 can often read and write some things. In any case they do know the letter ‘M’ and that is not of Marcel even if that is your name…..
Mc   We see that young children often manage with English terms on the internet. Annually tens of words from other languages are added to our vocabulary. SMS- and MSN- language are extended every day. And in secondary education I often hear teachers talk about the impoverishment of the language. Of course we will benefit from a good transmission of culture and it is important that our literary inheritance is being transferred. But contact with the spirit of the age and its specific communication are indispensible in order not to unlink with those that we want to raise.
Life is what happens to you, while you are making different plans
John Lennon
After primary school I went to the Zwijsen College in Veghel. At havo I was in the same form as Anky van Grunsven and Theo Maassen. Everybody had his own talents and peculiarities. Anky did something with horses and Theo was funny. But as I said: everybody did have something.
Horse in the stable
Recently I spoke a former teacher, who had been mentor of our class. At a certain moment he had to call all children that had insufficient marks at his desk and encourage them to pay more attention to their studies. He remembered quite well that he had called Anky to see him and that he told her while looking at her school report: “Your results are so moderate. You will have to study more. Leave that horse of yours in its stable.” At hindsight when he saw that horse on television more and more he realized that he had never dealt with what really inspired her. He had reduced his pupils to part of the system. The realization that talent can develop in spite of that approach set him somewhat at rest.
Speech about smurfs
The first speech that Theo Maassen held in English was about smurfs .With more courage than preparation in contents he showed the little, blue creatures and gave us the names. The discourse told about the adventures of the television folk. With the insight at hindsight, it could have been called one of his first cabaret performances. A small subject, for a small audience with a restricted knowledge and vocabulary of the contents. The marking of the speech was standardized. Contents and English were ‘measured’. Of course at hindsight the cabaret performer in process of developing was visible but there were no points of evaluation to give for this.
At hindsight, yes at hindsight, it was clear and everybody knew it and had everybody “already seen it in him” ….At hindsight!
…. Or did you think that Cruijff has ever had a sufficient mark for Dutch…

Anky van Grunsven (horse woman)
Anky van Grunsven   “One horse is not like the other one.”

“I ride different horses. One in fact is too fast and wants to be ahead of me. Every time I try to do everything together with it. Another one is laconic. I constantly demand all attention from it and train it with full power. Yet another one is overzealous. It has a fear of failure. With this horse I do not correct all mistakes.”

“Of course I have a system. But every morning I have to feel for every horse what is possible and what is not possible.”

I do what I can and I do not do what I should do.”

“I think that many people do not keep it simple enough. A horse should be able to understand it.”

“First be attuned then feel.”

“My horse also has a say.”

“It has to be down-to- earth, with common sense, not ‘from the book’, but always with complete attention.

“Of course you have to practice, but with pleasure.

“Finally it is about becoming one. I experienced that with Bonfire in Sydney in 2000.”

“A horse is always the way it is. He does not have an additional thought. So you always know what is the matter.”


Theo Maassen (cabaret performer)
Theo   “My secondary school was one big try-out.”

“Children are allowed to ride a moped when they are 16, while they are then least suitable for it. When they are 12, there is no harm in that and neither when they are 20. But exactly when they are 16, it is dangerous. It is like that in education. Adolescents are hormonal creatures and in fact not accountable. When next to me breasts were developing someone in front of the class was explaining about the Pleistocene. That is unfeasible. Education is not fit for adolescents.”

“I sometimes wished I had a disease which was not really bad but bad enough not having to go to school.”

“While baby-sitting I put on records of Freek and Kooten and the Bie. I had never heard them. Those were magical moments. I wanted to do something with those.”

“You develop mainly by chance meetings. When I was reading poems by my sister’s boyfriend for the first time, I was awake at night. Not being able to sleep because you could create something: that must have been inspiration. I still know my first poem by heart: In order not to discriminate the white pudding was next to the brown pudding in the drawer of the fridge. ( That is why ‘pudding’ has still remained an important theme in my complete works…..)”

“The best teacher heard that my voice was not suitable for singing and saw that my motions were not suitable for dancing but he enjoyed my improvisations and he wanted to enhance those authentically.”

“If you can do so many things well, why do teachers still want to know what is wrong?”

“The class was in fact also an audience.”


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Next: Chapter 2