11. A perspective for foreign youngsters
A perspective for foreign youngsters
  The Antillean context

In order to offer perspective to children that come together from various cultural backgrounds I want to share experiences with the Dutch Antilles in this chapter. The concrete suggestion is a link between education and the police: the pedagogic police.

Troubles with Antillean adolescents, no attention for Antillean kids
Pedagogic police: link between chanceless kids and written off adolescents
In the big cities Antillean youngsters demand special attention. An increasing group of street gangs is causing much trouble. Police and justice have their work cut out by these youngsters. The excesses are intolerable. It damages the relationships in the cities and the relationship between the Netherlands and the overseas-isles. Money is only invested at the end of the chain. The policy is just curative, the results are not efficacious and for many involved the ways are frustrating. On the Antilles too problems are increasing. The media regularly report on the rise of violence among minors.
  First the good news
About ten years ago I came into contact with Henri Brookson, the headmaster of a primary school on St. Maarten. After reading several publications about Experience Oriented Education (EOE) the headmaster had become interested in its concept. I was invited to the friendly island to share his knowledge and experience.… Together with some enthusiastic headmasters and teachers we there founded the institution EOE-St. Maarten in 1999. From that day on the expertise centre EOE Netherlands counsels and supports an increasing number of primary schools on St. Maarten. The results are good. The schools that have been working with the EOE-concept for years, have changed their ways of working. From class teaching in which the teacher dictated the whole of the curriculum, education evolved into a new organization, in which the circle, work by contract, project work, workshops and free choice became common ways of working.
The contribution of the children increased more and more. At the EOE-schools on St. Maarten a bell does not sound anymore in the morning and the children are no longer in a queue there. They enter quietly and start working in their classrooms. Parts of the classroom are set up with inviting materials. In the classrooms a self-evident and clear organization has been taken care of, so the children know what they can do and when they can do it. While the teacher is instructing a group of children, the others are working on their task for that week. They help each other with their work. Every week starts with an opening ceremony, in which the whole school community participates with presentations. On St. Maarten this concept of education, with its permanent attention for wellbeing and involvement, is still not common. Besides there are many problems in education: the Dutch education language for English-speaking children, the Dutch methods to be used in a Caribbean context and a chronic lack of money.
Delinked at home and at school
The nature of the problems which the schools at the Dutch Antilles have to deal with more and more, is not always purely educational. The home-related problems that many children ‘bring along with them from home’ are numerous and complex. There are many one-parent families. Large groups of children do not know their father, many mothers have financial and social problems and large groups of children therefore cannot rely on their homes for their upbringing. These children often are the ones who behave more noisily and aggressively at school. Teachers are troubled by troublesome children, they are punished more quickly, receive insufficient marks, are expelled and sometimes even suspended. While the home base is not able to provide a safe place for those children, they are also excluded by the school-system. These children become delinked from home as well as school. That is exactly the basis of the problems the big cities later have to deal with.
De-link or connect
The faculty of criminology of the Catholic University of Leuven and the Centre of EOE together have done researches into delinquent behaviour among youngsters. Researchers have pointed out that there is an evident relationship between delinquent behaviour and being de-linked. People who are de-linked from themselves, others, nature and their environment may manifest delinquent behaviour in the future. The simple opposite statement is that someone does not damage that with which he is connected or linked. It is striking that teachers at Antillean primary schools can tell you at an early stage which children are threatened in their development, become de-linked and will later possibly show delinquent behaviour. Their suspicions are almost always confirmed retrospectively. Teacher experience little support for a different approach form social institutions and the government.
  We know that the situation at home at the Antilles is not efficacious for many children to grow up safely and we know that the present school systems will even further the delinking of those children. In addition we also know exactly which children it concerns. You do not have to be a psychologist or educationalist to recognize these children in the classrooms or playground. Why then not discern the problems of Antillean youngsters from the moment they enter school, or better still from the moment they are born? After all, it is absolutely clear where the educational problems develop. The delinquent adolescent was a kid with needs that have not been observed and met. Attention for the well-being and the involvement of these children must be stimulated at all schools. The most important task for school in this matter is the realization of links.
Ria Uiterloo is chairwomen of the foundation EOE-St. Maarten. She stood at the cradle of the changes regarding instruction and describes in an example how the cooperation between parents, children and teachers can be successful. Uiterloo: We have a lot of children here coming from socially weak surroundings. Those young children are confronted at an early age with problems they cannot face and cope with. Their territory is the neighbourhood in which they often have to solve the problems themselves. Milan is such a boy. He is a pupil of group 8. His parents are divorced. He sometimes lives with his mother and sometimes with the mother of his father. In the course of time he showed more and more aggressive behaviour and was not communicative anymore. After conflicts with other children he constantly ran away while using abusive language. His mother accused the school of incomprehension. She reproached the headmaster of her son for always blaming him for something. At a certain unguarded moment Milan beat up a young child. The parents of the boy immediately called the police and involved the school board. The police caught Milan in the neighbourhood where he was usually wandering about after school. Jessie, the headmaster of the school took him with her to her house and gave him time to calm down. During the days after the incident Jessie regularly took Milan out. She took him to the pictures and talked a lot with him. She discovered that his parents did not undertake anything with him. In a conversation with his parents the mother told that she had already very often warned Milan against other children. In spite of her beating him regularly, his behaviour got worse and worse. On account of these conversations the mother was compelled to follow a course for parents. Beating and shouting were forbidden. The teachers who worked with Milan used the same strategies to create a bond with him. Milan has become the leader of the baseball team of his school and his parents come to school more often to talk for a short time about positive changes. The mother now realizes that beating, shouting and isolation de-link. Her linkedness with school and the linkedness between Milan and the teachers hopefully have prevented delinquent behaviour.

Afraid on the couch
It is Tuesday. The heat has come inside and lowers the pace. I walk outside in the break when a teacher calls me. She is standing by the gate and holds a child. A big group of children is moving restlessly around them. I quicken my pace and see that Cartino has clenched his fists firmly around the spikes of the fence. There has been a fight and he is completely cramped. The teacher finds it impossible to free him and Cartino is no longer amenable to reason. We ask the children to leave and give him the choice if he wants walk himself or if I will have to carry him. He turns away his head. I take him up and carry him to the team-room. His tearful, wild face and his cramped fists ask for a cooling down period. I get him something to drink and sit down beside him. The headmistress comes in, sits down and asks him in all peace if he wants to talk now or rather not. He says very softly that he wants to talk now. He talks about the row with Malice with which the others started interfering. When the headmistress asks at a certain moment if she has to call his aunt (Carlino does not live – like many other children - with his parents) he starts to cry in a heart-rending way. We get the impression that this is not just caused by the conflict but that is it much ‘deeper’. We let him cry and tell him that we think it is important that Malice sees and knows this. The headmistress gets her to him. We tell them that they may not start a discussion and that we do not talk about the row again. We ask Malice if she sees how Cartino is doing. “He is sad” she says, “and he was angry in the break.” We ask her what could be the reason. She understands it exactly and tells that you often have to cry afterwards about situations in which you have been angry. “Because it is annoying what made you angry and because you do not want to be angry…” Cartino is sitting more upright. The headmaster asks if this is true. He nods in a satisfied way. He does not want to tell how he feels. The headmistress tells what she thinks and he confirms it every time. Both indicate that they understand each other and that it is probably sufficient to continue in a pleasant way. Describing emotions without an explanation of the conflict seemed to be the key to a good continuation. When I enter the computer room an hour later I see Cartino and Malice sitting together. “We are going to do a project together”, Malice smiles.

The next morning I ask Cartino how he is doing. He does not react very enthusiastically. “Did you sleep well? ” I ask. And then he tells in one breath that he slept badly. He often sleeps badly. He lives together with his little brother at his aunt. The house is near a dark wood. His aunt and his little brother sleep in the bedroom and he sleeps alone on the couch in the living-room. He indicates he is often afraid and never sleeps before 23.00 hours. I thank him for his frankness, wish him a nice day and pass on the information to the teacher. The recognition of his emotions after the conflict yesterday had made him more talkative. A good beginning. The future will lay bare many impossibilities. And Cartino is not the only one……..

The pedagogic police
I advocate a preventive policy aimed at predictable “drop-outs”. I want the generally male police to support the generally female teachers. That is why a new function is imaginable: the pedagogic police as a link between promising kids and adolescent drop-outs. The pedagogic policeman is a man with authority and influence. He has knowledge of and affinity with the world of the police, teaching, pedagogy and the Antillean culture. He has to act in a coordinating way between home, school, police, politics and social organizations with the task to trace as early as possible children who because of a threatening situation at home run risks of becoming de-linked and to keep an eye on them together with all parties involved. The pedagogic police should do all that is possible to create or have solidarity created for this group of threatened children. He should also encourage schools and organizations to undertake specific actions that enhance well-being, involvement and linkedness. In this respect I think of among others pre-school and after-school activities, sports, studies and work. Naturally this pedagogic policeman should become the central figure in advising those responsible for policies. He is a functionary who propagates the principles of linking (educational) concepts. The cohesion with connecting organizations will determine the success. There have to be linking organizations that assist him, also for 12 to 15 year olds. In the Netherlands there are already splendid examples of such organizations. Think in this respect of “broad schools” which cooperate with youth care, companies etc.
Kids are no election-item.
Practice has shown that many well-meant initiatives have produced minor results until now. The reason behind this is that initiatives did not lead to linkedness and were not considered fundamentally. Pedagogy ‘does not score’. Kids are no election-item. But those kids are the ones who still are susceptible to learning and are still pliable. Linkedness with every individual is not only desirable, it is a strict necessity. We know in the meantime that one individual can disrupt a whole community, so nobody may be passed over. For me it is inconceivable that so much annoyance costs so much money and that in the meantime we only fight symptoms. Delinquent behaviour is an explicable phenomenon, linkedness an even more explicable answer

If you cannot walk 80 kmph….
Claire Walkate is headmistress of a primary school and former counsellor of children with all kinds of autism. She reacted with reference to my proposal to appoint a pedagogic police: “I know one” and told the following story:

“Marnix is 16 years old when he comes in my group. He has a different view on the world from most boys of his age. Marnix approaches everything from mathematical formulas. He calculates by heart the root from high numbers, he knows the speed with which the book that has just fallen, reaches the ground. He understands the route that a falling object covers. For Marnix there is always a way from A to B. That there are more ways leading to Rome, is a foolish remark. Marnix does not know what to do with proverbs, he speaks in short, logical sentences. He cannot appreciate jokes. If his environment becomes too full of language Marnix leaves the group to walk route on the heath that has been determined before in ‘he knows exactly how many steps’.

One morning Marnix has been so much out of balance that he decides to walk home. He only knows one route as he is taken there via the motorway…. When I have contact with the police Marnix has just been arrested on the A27. The motor police saw him walking there, understood immediately that Marnix needed a special approach and asked for directions via de telephone. I am searching for a logical, mathematical approach and ask the man to tell him that you may only walk on the motorway if you move at minimally 80 kilometres per hour and I urge him not to touch Marnix in any case. The policeman calls in the help of a car, explains to Marnix what the desired speed is and can take him to the police station without any problems where I am heading to.
Now it is customary tot put the arrested person in a cell with all additional necessities as removing shoelaces and belt. Fortunately the policeman who has mercy on this young man understands that locking up ‘normally’ is a very bad idea in this particular case.
When I arrive at the police station I am send to the cell. On a board Marnix and the policeman are sitting beside each other. Marnix is without laces and belt… the policeman too! This pedagogic professional has prevented him from crossing the motorway and has broken no rule with his empathic ability. They are still there!”

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