5. Linking perspectively
Fortunately we can start with children on day one. Every child anew, every day anew. We try to bring up children to become free, responsible people. But a lot goes wrong though. In order to see what we must do at the ‘beginning of the chain’ it is good to look at the end. There where it goes wrong: youngsters that show destructive behavior. Delinquent youngsters get into problems when they are caught. But they do have problems before they start delinquent behaviour. Delinquent literally means: de-link, to disconnect. Children who are delinked, are disconnected from themselves, others, the matter or the world around them. He who is linked with himself does not do harm to himself. He who is linked to the other does not do harm to the other. The answer to delinquent behaviour is simply linkedness. If we want to prevent at the ‘beginning of the chain’ that we get into problems at the ‘end of the chain’, then we must take attachment and linkedness seriously. We need linkers.
In ‘Liking to learn’ Stevens describe the problem of de-linking in education. The de-linking of relationship and performance, of effort and result, of process and product, of theory and practice, of upbringing and education, of man and work. From another perspective criminologist Anouk Depuydt reached the same conclusion. Linkedness was her answer to delinquency. People who are linked to themselves, the other one and the environment will not damage the environment..
In 1975 seven south-Moluccan youngsters hijacked the intercity-train from Groningen to Amsterdan near the Drente village of Wijster. They make the train stand still in the meadows near level crossing ‘de Punt’. They have one aim: recognition of the free Moluccan republic by the Netherlands. In order to show that they are serious they issue an ultimatum and they point out a passenger who will be executed afterwards. As a last wish this man dictates them a personal letter to his wife and children. Later he describes how from that moment onwards, the attitude of the hijackers changed: “as if they had got a kind of relationship with me, which prevented them from doing me harm… ” The man was finally saved. Yet, others were shot, without being allowed to write.
If we are being led by the polarizing newspaper headlines, it becomes difficult to find linkings. The one-sidedness of reporting paradoxically leads to an inward struggle. Oppositions which are tension-increasing for counsellors who do need their energy badly to work with children. Areas of tension get a destructive character then.
We know that interesting areas of tension and paradoxes can lead to good developments. But in organizations where people have all kinds of interests, the processes do not often run so flawlessly. People can be opposite each other in relationships and principles. The discussion is commonplace in our culture. With all pros and cons of it. If talks are polarizing and politically burdened, the chance of a good development becomes smaller. Standardized talks often lead to useless discussions. They must get a new perspective from the joint values. Not the question ‘who is right?’ is interesting but ‘what do you see from your perspective and why?’ By taking the point of view of the other one it is sooner possible to find a new, joint perspective. In other words, if you stand opposite each other, you will become rigid, harder and the chance that it is going to ‘stream’ is small. But if from the opposition it can be seen that the difference has two sides of the same theme, then a new perspective can be searched. If the differences become inferior and are linked to a new perspective, the chance of a successful continuation will be big.
The most important problems cannot be solved in the same framework as they are created in.
A counsellor that is irritated by a child is equal to it. The child gives you the possibility to become irritated but cannot cause it if the counsellor does not experience it that way. A counsellor who is equal to a child in a negative way is not able to guide it. In order to counsel it it is necessary that you can see the child the way it is and can find perspectives to satisfy its basic needs.
Herman Wijffels, Dutch trustee of the World Bank, says with regard to the formation of the government in the Telegraaf on 31 December 2007: “To my surprise I learnt that it usually went differently. Then long lists with items were made on which the insight of the parties differed. Now we were mainly looking for parallels. Then the differences could be bridged easily.”
Counter-binding forces
In ‘Counterforts of society’ dr. mr. Kees Schuyt (sociologist and jurist) give insight into the necessary counter-binding forces.
The social invention further rooted in social institutions, become visible in the metaphor of the ‘counterforts’. The pillars of the temple support the roof, but the counterforts give the counter-pressure. In order to understand the counterforts Schuyt distinguishes between social bonds that proceed from shared values and social bonds that bring together and connect together opposite parties, even if they do not share values in contents (nevertheless values).
Counter-bond is the opposite of a more social bond
If one states at present that in modern, western society there is a lack of social coherence then one usually means a social bond on the basis of uniformity and unity. But it is a well-kept sociological secret that there is a surplus of social cohesion. Then just a sheer, inevitable we-feeling develops in society, where everybody who does not fit in is considered and treated as an enemy.
The social inventions that countered the extreme, social bonds have broken through the we- they – thinking. They are counter-bonds. A counter-bond applies a certain, lasting bond with the opposite party or enemy. At counter-bonds the oppositions and the conflicts based on them remain but one has found a way not to deal with these oppositions in a destructive way.
An enemy becomes an opponent, an opponent is not made into an enemy.
Schuyt distinguishes four counter-bonds:
• The lawsuit
  - 5th century B.C. in Greece
  - A criminal procedure is the institutionalising of revenge and watches against the destructive force of revenge of honour or own direction. Two parties are and remain linked with each other without having to deny and ignore the conflict and the oppositions.
• Academic freedom
  - 12th century in Europe
  - The truth is not bound to one party. Vaclav Havel (1985): “Living in truth is starting war with all lies of a totalitarian society and therefore next to love of truth a system of finding the truth is necessary.” Looking for a (scientific) truth becomes a form of counter-bond in that way because it breaks through the principal we-they-oppositions.
• Religious tolerance
  - 16th and 17th century in Europe (under the influence of Erasmus and Castillo)
  - The insight developed that the killing of heretics is worse than heresy itself.
  - Tolerance consists of suppressing the need to oppress others.
  - After the French Revolution religious freedom was constitutionally laid down.
• Political actions without violence
  - From 1906 in South Africa (Ghandi).
  - Ghandi principally saw the ‘enemy’ as part of ‘all the living’.
The truth that is practised and respected in these four institutions can be called nevertheless values. The ‘nevertheless values’ can well be distinguished from shared values. If the ‘nevertheless values’ are left out, things go very wrong in a society. Counter-bonds do not strive for a general consensus, no uniform identification with one people, one leader, one church, one pattern of values. They bring some objectivity, offer rules, define measures and limits to acting.
Bonds on the basis of agreements
Socially justified enterprising (SJE) and the Islam

‘Socially justified’ often seems to have strained relations with all kinds of interests. It is interesting to look at parallels and bonds. In that respect the opinion of Willem Lageweg, director SJE the Netherlands and Tamin Chebti, student business administration and member of the board TANS interesting. They wrote an article in the Financial Daily in April 2006. With the title ‘Dialogue with the Islam shows remarkable chances for socially justified entrepreneurs’ they bent a media-sensitive problem into an economic challenge.

Justice, solidarity, involvement and ethical principles
Of course there are differences between SJE and the Islam. The dialogue with the stakeholders and transparency for instance are important principles of SJE. These aspects are dealt with in the Islam less explicitly. There authoritarian parents, scientists and religious leaders play a more important part than the open debate in which everyone takes part. For many products Muslims choose for the so-called halal-variety; a variety in which justice is done to the Islamic principles in the field of consumptions and production. This is especially true for food but also in other fields such as the area of banking these principles are of great and even increasing importance. Thus Islamic banking is growing faster than regular banking in the world at the moment also in Western countries as for instance England. He who has a closer look at the Islam and the economic system that has been derived from it, sees that there are strikingly many parallels with the principles of socially justified enterprising (SJE). And that offers interesting points of contact. In both concepts justice, solidarity, involvement and ethical principles are central. And in both cases the position of the capital-supplier is strongly moderated. These parallels can be a starting-point of the a deepening of a dialogue that does not only help the financial world further on.

Ethical principles
  • The Islam knows to ban to trade goods or services that the Koran has forbidden such as alcohol, drugs, prostitution and porn.
  • It knows a ban on interest (riba). The motive for this is that a beforehand determined compensation for capital at one’s disposal puts the capital-supplier into an unequally powerful position with regard to the credit-taker. The ban on riba does not only include rent but every form of increasing one’s fortune by speculation. The underlying principle is that one ought to work and/or undertake in order to earn money. The ban on riba tries to prevent the rich from becoming richer while sleeping and the poor from getting poorer all the time.
  • It is forbidden to hoard goods in times of scarcity in order to force up prices.
  • There is the ban on zakaat. The obligation to zakaat consists of paying yearly a certain percentage on wealth that rises above a certain subsistence minimum. The zakaat is destined for distribution among the poor.
  • A good division of income and employment are important points of reference.
  • Economic activities which harm the community for example in the domain of health and environment should be avoided.
SJE and chances
The starting points of Islamic enterprising link up very well with the principles of socially justified enterprising. In SJE it is about a good balance between results in the domain of people, planet and profit. Profit is in this concept a relative notion. In view of the growing number of Muslims in the Western world a further studies of Islamic purchasing behaviour and Islamic enterprising is of great importance. It immediately hits the balance of loss and profit of the entrepreneur. It seems that socially justified businesses have more chances in this market than classic enterprises with a one-dimensional strife for profit. Such an approach also serves a social interest. The parallels with socially justified enterprising offer interesting possibilities to build bridges and to increase mutual understanding. In a world in which polarization and the distance between the West and the Muslim community only seem to increase this is also an important argument for the deepening of the dialogue.
There where people are opposite each other in an organisation, the continuation can be destructive. There where the joint perspective is found in the opposition, the continuation can be constructive. That goes better and faster if you can put yourself in the perspective of the other one.
You need not explain to those who do not understand.
You cannot explain to those who do not understand.
Why should we discuss?
Is it not more interesting to look through each other’s glasses!
In conflict situations the binding perspective is mostly not found. An explanation is that people do not want to get hurt. If people have the idea that they get hurt, the willingness disappears to take up the other’s perspective and to look together for the constructive continuation.
Humanity has been hurt fundamentally a number of times. Great changes of consciousness which have become generally accepted by now, were experienced as hurting for a long time. The parallel between all injuries is that man is not central, he is not the centre of the universe. ‘that it is not (only) about man ’. Three injuries have been revealed by Freud. Ludo Heylen considered education and stated a fourth injury.
The first injury
Copernicus   Copernicus (1473) was a Polish mathematician, doctor, jurist and astronomer. He stated that the earth was a very tiny part of the universe and not the centre of the creation. Galileo Galilei (1564) was an Italian physicist, astronomer and mathematician. He supported Copernicus with scientific findings. On the basis of his observations Galilei reached the conclusion that the sun is in the middle of the solar system. Before one thought that the earth was in the centre of the total universe and that the sun, the planets and all the stars turned around the earth. The new observations of Galilei were clashing with the current opinions. Not the earth was the centre. ‘It did not turn on the earth.’   Galileo
The visions of Darwin and Freud have not been generally accepted worldwide. The fourth injury will demand some time yet!
The second injury
Darwin   Charles Darwin (1809) was a British nature researcher. He was the founder of the evolution theory based on natural selection which forms the basis for the current evolution theory. Darwin determined that man was not a unique being that was created above the animal world in order to rule. But the human species developed from an evolutionary process. From ape to human. ‘It did not (only) turn on man.’
The third injury
Freud   Sigmund Freud (1856) was a neurologist and psychiatrist from Austria – Hungary and founder of the psycho-analysis. He determined that behaviour of man was among others steered by the subconscious. That meant that man would not be the being from which his subconscious had a grip on the world. It was not purely the clever, rational, explainable brain that justified man’s central position.
The fourth injury
Heijlen   Ludo Heylen (1957) is director internationalising of the expert centre of Experience Oriented Education in Leuven. He maintains that the problems of acceptance of the educational transformation lay bare a fourth injury. Even if we know the sun does not revolve around the earth, man has not evolved from the ape and that our subconscious has influence on our acting, the teacher has difficulty to give up his central position. Contemporary insights are evident. It is not only about the transfer of the teacher. It is about the way in which the pupils develop. It is about the other side; about how you enter the other. That insight is an injury for ‘the teacher’ who had awarded himself a central position.
In his book ‘The meaning of existence’ psychotherapist and professor neurology and psychiatry Viktor Frankl describes how he survived the concentration camp. His from this self-developed logo-therapy is an utterly humane form of psychiatry that is based on man’s striving to give a higher, definite meaning to life.
In the Nazi concentration camps it was stated (American psychiatrists reached the same conclusion later in Japan and Korea) that prisoners, who knew that a task was waiting for them in life, certainly had a much bigger chance of surviving.
Frankl: “In the week between Christmas 1944 and New Year’s day 1945 the mortality rate reached an unknown height. The increase was not due to harder labour, diminished food rations, changes of weather or new epidemics. Most prisoners had simply lived in the naïve hope that they would be home again for Christmas. As Christmas approached and the news about the war remained very discouraging, the prisoners lost heart and the disappointment was big. This had a dangerous influence on their resistance and many died. ”
When the circumstances became unbearable for Frankl, he forced himself to think something different. Suddenly he saw himself on a stage in a lecture-room. He gave a speech about the psychology of the concentration camp. At that moment it became possible to consider his problems and tensions objectively from a scientific point of view. By means of this method he succeeded in rising above his situation, above his torment of that moment.
Where the perspective disappears the feel to develop or event to live can disappear. Links that make perspectives visible, generate new chances of life. Having perspective means seeing light in the tunnel. That can be a little light in a big tunnel but also a lot of light in a small tunnel. Children that get stuck in their tunnel with their counsellors can benefit from a little light that others can sometimes give. The real professional allows others in his tunnel and allows different light!
Wrapped up feeling of guilt
‘You should come and have a look. I really do not know what to do.” Mieke, the teacher of group 3 has indicated before that Tristan is very troublesome. He often reacts vehemently to other children. Mieke has already tried everything. Today she has run out of energy and creativity.
I am sitting down in the classroom and I see Tristan doing his arithmetic. A moment later he looks around and yells at another child. He is getting up and is standing in the middle of the classroom. “May I have your attention for a moment?” he shouts and while laughing he walks back to his chair. Then he takes his rubber and throws it at another child. I am going to sit somewhat closer to Tristan. He starts doing arithmetic again. He counts his fingers and writes a number down in his exercise-book. A child is walking next to his desk with a pencil its hands. Tristan gets up and snatches the pencil away. I get up and snatch the pencil away as quickly as he did it. I return it to the other child and then I tell Tristan not to snatch things away from other people. He is going to sit on his chair again and he puts his head on his arms. I hear him mumbling. He looks into his book and is doing arithmetic again. His fingers produce a few more answers again. Then he looking around him again, gets up and is climbing onto his chair. And while he is putting his arms into the air, I grab him and put him onto his chair again. While I push on the chair I tell him that you may not stand on a chair. He puts his head onto his arms again.
While Mieke calls the children into the circle I hear Tristan is crying. He is looking at Mieke for a moment and then he is walking to the other side of the classroom and is crying in a corner. I ask Mieke to start ‘normally’. Tristan is crying louder and louder. Mieke tells the children that Tristan wants to cry for a while and that it is good.
“I am not just crying,” Tristan calls from the corner.
I am going to sit with him and ask: “What did you say?”
He is sobbing and he repeats: “I am not just crying.”
“What do you mean?”
“It used to be always cosy at home and it no longer is.”
“Why is that?”
“Daddy is gone because he thought it was restless.”
“Yes, we are too troublesome and now he is somewhere else and he does not come back is we do not become quiet and that is not nice in the evening, because daddy always did games and he always took us to bed and now he is gone..”
“What a pity. I did not know that at all.”
“No I did not.”
The class is going to eat. Tristan is looking at the rest.
“Do you want to eat too?” I ask.
He nods and walks to his lunch-box.
Mieke and I see how pleasantly he is talking with his table-mates. Around 12 o’clock he puts his lunchbox in the tray. The agreement is that is allowed when they may go outside. We do not say anything about it.
“Tristan, you know at what time you are allowed to go outside?”
“Yes, at 12 o’clock.”
“Do you know when it is 12 o’clock?”
“Yes, when they are both at the top.”
“Would you please look and warn the class when they may go outside.”
Tristan turns his chair and says: “Almost boys, we may almost go outside.”
At 12 o’clock he makes a sign to have a break and walks outside while smiling.
Intentions and priorities
I asked a management-team to make a choice to what or whom they would give priority. They had to write down their preference every time: pedagogic or didactics, ways of working or intentions, values or standards, politics or ecology, well-being and involvement or linkedness, counsellor or child. When we had spoken for one and a half hours with each other, I asked them to have a look again at their preferences. Most of them were startled by the fact that the conversation had involved so many personal interests and that preferences had hardly stayed in view.
Sharing intentions first
In order to make organisations and all people involved develop pleasantly it is good to attune one’s intentions. Not the book of protocols helps you when it comes to the trial, but the willingness to look for solutions from joint formulated intentions. Organisations can use a declaration of intentions as an orientation on visions, in support of forming a vision or at the choice of a concept. They can also use this statement to determine which principles and consequences are evident for the organisation. Of course the statement can also be used in the communication with third parties. In determining the declaration of intentions the principles and intentions are in view. With this it has not been determined how things have to go concretely. But the pronounced and determined intentions can become part of the dialogue, the policy and decision from that moment.
When it has been determined that involvement and well-being of all people in the organisation really count, then a group can not solely refer to their involvement if that is at the cost of the well-being of others. But because there is sometimes disagreement about the weight of other statements it is interesting to determine the priority (in due course) together.
More measure and fewer rules
On the 1 December 2006 the 8-year-old Jesse Dingemans, pupil of group 5 of primary school Klim-Op in Hoogerheide was found dead. The victim had serious injuries in the area of his neck. Later that afternoon the police arrested a 22 –year-old suspect.

The minister of education at the time, Van der Hoeven, was sincerely shocked and immediately proposed to close the doors of primary schools.

Of course the drama is shocking and everything has to be done to prevent that this can happen again. But the suggestion of the minister is based of de-linking. The door is literally closed. But where the feeling of safety is (temporarily) under pressure, this measure can do perfectly. But if we want a society which keeps using the chances in order to create linkedness, then really different measures are necessary. More measure and fewer rules.
piramid   Ways of working are of a lower order than involvement-enhancing factors, because they increase the chance to a real development. If children feel well and are involved they will develop well, but that does not happen if they are de-linked from themselves, others and the world around them. That is why linkedness as an answer to de-linking is at the top of the pyramid.
Together to the toilet
A teacher of group ½ tells me that “ she does not allow two kids to go to the toilet together any more, because they cannot do that. Every time when they go together, they spray each other wet and draw at toilet-rolls.”
I tell her that not going together is not a de-linking.
“Yeah, but..” she reacts immediately, “they really cannot do it.”
I ask what is necessary in order to let them go together. She is thinking for a while.
“I cannot stand against the pot when they have to go to the toilet.”
“Is that necessary?” I ask. She imagines the situation. “Or is it sufficient that you stay in the classroom and ask later how it went.”
“No, they cannot do that yet, but I need not go to the toilet with them. ”
She looks at the door of the toilets and says: “I think it is necessary if they know that I am behind the door. And if things go well, it may be sufficient if they know that I ask afterwards and check… Yes that seems a nice experiment to me. ”
Then giving priority to intentions
It is wise to give priority to intentions. If that has not happened everybody can determine the seriousness of an argument at a for him desired moment. In this way you play into the hands of the dominant forces and you sometimes decrease the commitment of the others.
Counsellors are inclined to give socially desirable answers in giving priority if it does not have any consequences. That is why it is good to talk about the declaration of intentions and the priorities at fixed moments according to the experiences that one has gained.
It is plausible in an educational setting to choose for pedagogic above didactics, for intentions above ways of working, for values above standards, for ecology above politics, for linkedness above well-being and involvement and for children above counsellors.
But if you choose for intentions above ways of working, then it is not relevant which form you have chosen if the aim is achieved. And if you choose for linkedness above well-being and involvement, then you cannot refer to your well-being if structural disconnections are taking place.
Conceptualising is a verb
I have once kept the flip-over leaves of different schools which indicated what was good education for them during an educational day. The terminology strongly corresponded. A few years later I did it again. Again the terminology strongly corresponded with regard to each other. But it was striking that with regard to a few years before there was a different vocabulary. The language, in other words, had changed: the practice and the fundamental thought had hardly changed.
Many institutions spend time on so-called meetings of vision. Of course it is important that counsellors tell each other how they look upon matters. But these conversations can be frequently repeated with differences in nuance without the current practice evolving in the desired direction . Institutions that choose a concept and draw up a declaration of intention develop more constructively. At all kinds of moments, at which normally one would have acted automatically, it can be discussed if the developments do serve the proposed intentions. When employing a new colleague, when buying a new method, at a conflict…. one can and may look for answers every time from the highest intentions. If this happens consistently and is communicated, all participants (counsellors, children, management, parents, board etc.) can get a feeling for the intentions. The experiences are then linked to the concept and the concept offers perspectives to place experiences and have them evolve positively.
That process I call conceptualising. It is not just choosing a concept or writing a declaration of intentions. The verb conceptualising expresses that you have to do it all the time. Not referring to a file, but getting the feeling together in interaction, what is the highest attainable with a view on the intentions in priority.
Concept has been derived from the Latin Conceptum and originally knows more meanings which can still be relevant if you want to conceptualise to the full: absorb, get pregnant, conceive, strive for something, decide, formulate, announce solemnly, commit, incur.
An exemple of the practice of this is described in ‘If football becomes rugby’. But first I want to picture the complexity of the different roles of the counsellor with a comparison between sports and the educational world.
Having your team play as well as possible
A sports metaphor with insight and view for counsellors and children
Much is demanded from a ‘new counsellor’. The list with required competences is considerable. One of the most important facets of the current counselling is ‘coaching’. A way of guiding at which you try ‘to have the time as optimally as possible.’ For that reason it is logical to draw a parallel with the sports world. Even if the differences are also evident and there are different things ‘to be won.’
Competence and competition
The difference between counselling children in knowledge and educational institutions on the one hand and the sports world on the other is that in sports the literal gain is expressed in a higher score with regard to the opponent. Unfortunately that pressure-enhancing, competitive aspect has also penetrated education for example. With negative consequences for the institutions that know already problems enough because of their population. In counselling children, the profit should consist in the highest attainable happiness and the highest attainable development of all those involved.
The sports world increases competences for the benefit of the competition. Good counsellors increase the competition ( in the sense of useful challenges) for the benefit of competences.
The parallels
Sport-clubs and knowledge and educational institutions have important aims in common.:
1. Every player and counsellor must be as fit and happy as possible (well-being).
2. Every player and counsellor must develop maximally (involvement).
3. The team as a whole must develop maximally (linkedness)
4. The achievements must be as high as possible (competences).
The counsellor as a referee, a trainer and a coach in one
There are strong resemblances in the tasks of both organisations. However, in the sports world the different tasks are performed by different persons. Counsellors of children must perform a combination of tasks.
In a schematic survey you can express the casting. We do not do children justice if we give them only the part of player. Many parents are not only supporters either. In this metaphor it is especially fascinating to zoom on the complex task of counsellor. In this the ‘total survey’ is of course a simplified representation!
Scheme with the comparable part at sports clubs and in educational contexts:
Sports club
Knowledge and educational institutes
Person who leads a club and the meeting
Person who leads an institution and the meeting.
Person who plays in the match
Person that enter into interactions.
Person who supports the club and the players.
Person who supports the institution and the children.
Person who keeps an eye on the observance of the rules of the game during matches.
Person who keeps an eye on the observance of the rules of the game during interactions.
Person who trains the players.
Person who trains the children.
Person who counsels the match.
Person who counsels the children.
The new counsellor
The ‘old counsellor’ transmitted information. The ‘new counsellor’ is a coach. The profession is attractive for those who do not only want to transmit information, but who really want to counsel. The ‘old counsellor’ was a referee and a trainer. The ‘new counsellor’ is a coach. He has his club play optimally; he has his children achieve optimally by entering interactions with themselves, others and the environment. He puts them in the right position and discusses the tactics; he knows which children develop best where and how. He knows who are the attackers, defenders and the key players; he knows the talents and restrictions of the children and discusses the possibilities for good developments.
But.. when is the counsellor coaching the children?
Simply, when all other tasks are well performed. Two positions that strongly influence the process are the part of the principal and of the parents. It makes a big difference if the director executes a good chairmanship. It is also of influence if the parents behave as involved, constructive and enthusiastic supporters. But looking at the part of the counsellor, the most important question is: how do the parts of referee, coach and trainer relate?
The good, coaching counsellor must be able to get the maximum out of children. But does he want to be a referee and trainer, if that is necessary?
A good counsellor
A good counsellor counsels from the jointly stated intentions. He takes care that it is clear ‘at the door’ what the vision is of the institute and counsels the children accordingly.
He is a referee. Before the match begins he has checked the field. He explains the rules of the game and refers to these for his team.
• Sometimes you hear counsellors say: “I do not feel like being a policeman (read: referee). ” But sometimes you have to be a referee (and not act it) in order to keep an eye on the borders within which the children can develop safely.
He is a trainer. For the preparation and improvement of the ‘free game situations’ he must keep all the players fit and have them train with each other at the right level.
• Some counsellors rather coach than train. But routines and patterns are incorporated in trainings. In order to make trainings successful they must be challenging and useful. Children must not experience them as ‘necessary evil’. Fun to play and the feeling to become better must be leading. Of course auxiliary trainers can be invited for different parts. It is important, though, that they keep working in consultation with the coach from a joint vision. The perspective must be clear for trainer and players!
He is a coach. When the match starts the team plays independently of all circumstances. The coach tries to steer if necessary from the side-line.
• Many ‘new counsellors’ like to coach. For coaching two matters are conditional: you must be able to do it and you must find time to do it. If the counsellor does not find time to coach there is often a part for the referee or the trainer. It is important that the counsellors do not keep coaching if trespasses are being made (make the referee come!) and if conditional routines and patterns are not developed (ask the trainer!)
5 tips for the coach
In the first issue (March 2006) of the magazine ‘’nlcoach’ Guus Hiddink gives 5 tips for successful coaching:
• Do not pretend to be better than you are.
• Create realistic aims (and keep always striving for a miracle in the meantime.)
• Grow mutual respect between stars and ‘servants’.
• Do not behave as a supporter of your own team.
• Give room to your intuition.
Marc Lammers, the successful coach of the ladies hockey team and author of ‘Coaching you do together’ attributes his successes to the changing tactics as he puts it himself. Formerly he prescribed how ‘his ladies’ had to eat, train, relax, live… At present he asks them when they feel most comfortably. Formerly he trained on what they could not do. But he stated that those patters also became visible in the game. Currently he has his ladies tell each other what they are good at and had them train on those things. When they go into the field, the does not tell them anymore what they have to do but asks them what they are going to do and then… they really do that! Lammers: “Coaching is not that they do what you say, but that they do what is best for the team.”
Must the counsellor also be a goalkeeper?
Cruyff once said that Edwin van der Sar was the best attacker. His plausible explanation is that van der Sar is the goalkeeper who can bring the ball back into the team in the fastest and best way, by which the forwards of the opponents ‘are behind.’ Bringing the ball back into the play quickly and well takes care the team can play again ‘in the attacking mode.’ The counsellor is sometimes necessary to get the interrupted play going again in a good way. So yes, sometimes he is a goalkeeper!
When football becomes rugby
In order to make the sports metaphor and the importance of “giving priority to intentions” explicit I will outline an example from the practice about a conflict in the playground at a primary school:
During lunch-break a supervising parent enters the team-room in tears. “Well, now I won’t do it again!” , is the only thing she can just say. Anger and grief fight for priority. While I am looking for a quiet spot with her, she tells she has been called names by a child. She could not correct the problems during football and when she indicated that everybody had to stop, she was being called names by Tjerk. When Tjerk saw that the supervising parent walked to the team-room in tears, he jumped over the fence and walked away.

I went looking for Tjerk and took him back to school. The hectic made it impossible to make a good reconstruction quickly. Therefore I sent all children away from the football-field to the playground. While Tjerk calmed down in the classroom, the supervising mother told her story once again. She indicated that the game on the field had not been sporting for quite a while and that children were impertinent when she said something about it. When I ask her when and why she has not reported this before, another supervising parent who joined us, said: “If we come to report this every time, you do not have a break anymore.”

That afternoon I talk to Tjerk. He got a few nasty kicks on his leg while playing football and had been talked to wrongfully about his behaviour. He had called names and he regretted it. When he saw the supervising mother walking to the team-room in tears, he became afraid and walked away. At the end of the afternoon Tjerk called on the supervising mother and apologized. He also told his father about the incident. We agreed to think about it well and to return to it later.
That afternoon I called together all teachers and trainees to reconstruct the incident and discuss the consequences.
The most important reconstructions
• From a research that had been rounded off recently it seemed that children were doing well but not during the period they remained at school. They are confronted with parents who ‘employ other strategies’ The children that are used to a certain style of interaction with their teachers, have difficulty in experiencing a different approach from the supervising parents within the same school context.
• Supervising parents do not really punish kicking and calling names anymore for a long time and they do not always report it to teachers (“If we start doing that….”)
• There is a lot of physical contact on the football field that is often annoying for children (they are hurt regularly).
• The incident in which things have escalated has revealed the bad atmosphere, the bad interaction and the problems of the match itself.
The consequences that we decided together:
• In other to cool down, the football field was closed down “for some time.”
• All children in the upper classes were asked to write a letter about how they had experienced the situations. Some children join the game (players), others do not dare to play (non darers) and others have experienced the situation only from a distance (watchers) but do feel the consequences of the atmosphere. They had to indicate what their own part is as watcher, as he who does not dare to enter the field and as responsible one.
• All children were asked later that day to read the letters in class to each other and to talk about them.
• After school the teachers discussed the reactions of the children.
• All teachers of the upper classes had followed playing outside intensively for a few days.
• The rules and agreements were gone through together with the children and the supervising parents once again.
• Breaks were discussed before and afterwards.
• During lunch-break one teacher in turns went outside too.
• During the weekly meeting this point was on the agenda every time.
In the letters the children write very openly about the situation that had developed. A selection from the reactions:
Some reactions from the ‘players’:
Carsten group 7/8: “There is quarrelling on the field and I am often involved. Now the field has been closed because of our own fault. I sometimes kick and I want to do something about it. It is our own fault that the field has been closed. I sometimes did not listen either and I should do something about it. I am going to pay more attention to my behaviour. I do want to listen but that does not succeed sometimes. It is great fun on the field, but sometimes it is not, because if somebody beats against me, it hurts. And if I do not listen, then I am doing something else. But I do listen to a teacher because they are much more severe. ”
Milham group 7/8: “And sometimes I joined them and I knew it was wrong. But then a supervising mother said something to me and then I stopped. But I sometimes kick too and I also beat and that I am going to change and no more kicking and beating anymore and maybe they will stop all then. I am trying to stop and say sorry and walk away .”
Some reactions of the ‘non darers’:
Geesje group 5/6 : “I sometimes do not join the play anymore. I do not want people to overbear about football. I do not want people to play football in a rough way. I do not want people being bullied.”
Paul group 5/6: “I do not like it if from football it becomes rugby. I do not want children to overbear the supervising parents. ”
Luna group 5/6: “There has to be a teacher there. The supervising parents should be in control and not the children. ”
Some reactions from the ‘watchers’:
Mitchel group 7/8: “I have looked at someone who was kicked. And that was not justly. But afterwards I did say I was sorry. But the next time I would say: will you stop now. But I think it is especially annoying for the surveying parents because they want to make it as lovely as possible for us.”
Roos group 7/8: “I am often going to sit in a corner with my friends and we have a chat there and I do not really see what all happens. But sometimes I hear somebody calling names or kicking and then I think: act normally, it is only a game, but then they often go on. Actually I should say this to a surveying mother but I have never done that because I tell upon somebody and I may be blamed.”
Julika group 7/8: “I think it difficult to say because I am afraid they may do something to me. I think it is a good idea to keep the field closed because I think this is worst of all what can happen in the field. I do know in fact how things can be different.”
Reflection from the sports metaphor:
You are a coach of a team that can keep to the rules. If they do not do that you cannot start coaching and you must act as a referee. And if the rules are broken massively then you stop the match. You will have to reflect as a trainer and try to grind the good patterns.
The continuation
The football field was closed for a children for a week. Seven children had caused problems so often that they were refused for a longer time. The teachers and children discussed together for every day what they would do in the break. Lovely, new games were invented but also tag en skipping returned. Teachers joined them. The atmosphere improved every day. The children themselves were enthusiastic about the improvements. In the meeting children told it had become much more sociable since the field had been closed but some of them began to miss the football. After a week the field was opened again. The seven children who still had a ban initially played without problems in the playground. After a few days they reported at the teachers with the announcement that they had the idea in the meantime and knew how to be able to play sportingly. The surveying parents got a grip on the counselling. They intervened sooner and children accepted the interventions.
Yet still…
Despite all the talks and interventions four of the seven children that had been suspended for a longer time seemed unable to adapt sufficiently to the desired game. Gradually irritations and nasty incidents developed again. In a meeting we concluded that some children were insufficiently able to manage in this (too ) free situation. The analyses were clear. They were boys from the upper classes for whom the need for clarity and activity was big, but the tolerance towards others often low. Sometimes even with an arguable morale. The teachers agreed that they did not want to give up their lunch break structurally. But not allowing these children to sport in the lunch-break meant they could not satisfy their basic needs and could not develop a higher tolerance and a good morale. Counselling these children during lunch-break in a good way seemed more important than the afternoon rest for the teachers. Yet this investment was asked too much. We decided to look for men who shared the necessity of this insight with us, had affinity with these children and were sporting. The discussion also developed “if it was not too sexist to need men (for children have to listen to everybody)”, was made subordinate to our higher values. Afternoon rest and discussions about sexism may be important. But more important is going against a structural de-linking. Linkedness is high on the priority list of the intentions. You may not allow that a number of children gain experiences every day with de-linking.
Responsibility again for everybody
Five fathers proved to be interested. They felt very well what the problems were, had affinity with the children and ‘the game’. The five of them divided the days so everybody could guide them on suitable times. In a joint consultation the teachers and counsellors offered the agreements. All football players signed the document. From then on the guidance was for the fathers, the play for the children and the responsibility that everything went well for everybody!
signing contract
We had filled the part of referee, the trainings were led and when they had to play and should be coached, the new counsellors and the children were ready with a signed list of agreements on the notice-board for a lovely, daily match of football. Already from day one the children were looking out for the new counsellors. The enthusiasm with which they greeted each other guaranteed success. And the surveying mothers could do sociable games again in the playground. They felt they were supported by the men in the football field.
At hindsight we realised that the children had often literally indicated that the problems were caused by the fact that the counsellors did know ‘a thing’ about football. That was sometimes experienced in conflicts as ‘a big mouth’. Now we see how the same children have respect for the counsellors that ‘speak their language’ we know for the continuation that it is important to take also those signals literally.
In class we regularly discussed the progress and after a few weeks we had a written evaluation again. Some children indicated that they rather stayed inside when the weather was cold, that they would rather do games on the field etc. But all children wrote about the improvement. The counsellors became ‘fathers’, ‘misters’, ‘referees’ and ‘attendants’. But appreciation was expressed unanimously.
Some reactions from the players
“Since the fathers are there, things go really well.”
“The fathers do not talk so much. Now it is much clearer.”
“A big fat feather, the parents are doing really well.”
“Everybody sticks to the rules really well.”
“You get used to the rules of the different fathers quickly.”
“It is not rugby anymore and they make fewer slidings every time.”
The ‘watchers’ all indicated that the game in the playground had become finer but did have suggestions for other games. And ‘non darers’ are no longer there! There is nobody who does not dare to join. The biggest disappointment now is sometimes a lost game. But that does not seem a task of the referees alone. For that purpose the paid, professional trainers and coaches are at play again!
It is important that the surveying mothers no longer wanted a discussion about sexism. And for teachers who enjoyed their afternoon rest, it was no problem if they had to take over this fun activity from a father who could not come once or who had to leave earlier.
That teaches us that we often ‘assess too lowly.’ It is generally of no use to prove you are right on your own standardization. Because we have tackled the highest intention and we have been able to change de-linking into linkedness, all former relevant discussions disappeared. And the children had as usually the key in their hands for a long time.
Give the match back to the children
In 2007 the foundation ideal commercials (SIRE) started the campaign “Give the match back to the children.” They put central the exaggerated meddlesome-ness of (especially) parents around sporting grounds. Parents demand much from their children. They must not only be good at school, but they must also excel in the sporting area. And you hear that. At the sideline and on the stands. In this respect parents are often so fanatic that it seems as if they want to take over the match, over the heads of the children. While it is about their fun in the match and physical exercise. From a research of TNS NIPO it seems that 91% of the parents are annoyed by the behaviour of others. This is about inciting, swearing, calling names, pointing out at the referee that he has taken the wrong decisions and ‘advising’ the management of the team.
73% of the parents sees that other parents are inciting the children at sport matches once and again while 43 % admits doing it themselves once in a while.
49% of the parents hears other parents swear occasionally while only 8% admits doing it themselves. From a previous research by Motivaction it seems that sporting youngsters between 12 and 24 years old think that unsporting behaviour ‘belongs to it’ more than the other Dutch people.

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