Dr. Bert Keegstra, chemistry teacher at Guido.

What are you mainly: teacher or pedagogue?

If I have to make a choice between these three types, it becomes a bit static. It is still moving a bit with me. Three years ago I was more focused on the content of my subject and being a professional teacher but gradually I am moving towards being a pedagogue.

Which element typifies all your lessons?

Here too I find it difficult to limit myself to one element. Important elements for me are: good preparation, activating work forms and customized work.

Good preparation: Prior to each day of class and week I check whether everything from previous years is reusable or needs to be improved or updated;

Activating teaching methods: An international study found that the lessons in the Netherlands have a high entertainment content and although I do not think this is good, I regularly try to add fun and activating teaching methods. Customization: not all students can jump over the same bar. Individual care for students therefore has an important place in our school and I also pay attention to that in my lessons, where necessary.

You are an education minister for one day. What do you want to change permanently within education?

I have been working in education for three years. Before that I have been in business leadership for many years. As a leader, you are mainly concerned with the main points. The minister of education is that too and that is why I would like to guarantee the freedom of education, which is regularly under pressure, in that position. In addition, I see an increasing focus in education on higher (published) results. As a result, students who just do not meet the entry level set by a school no longer have the opportunity to follow a course. As a minister, I would like to focus on more nuance there.

Now that you are busy: what valuable experience or advice would you like to share?

Why I particularly like being a teacher is working with students, with young enthusiastic people in an important phase of their lives. That you can help them discover their own possibilities and talents. For example, I like to experience how a student, who is in a vicious circle of “I can’t do this and so I don’t pay attention to it,” is gradually improving in your profession and becoming more enthusiastic. But also when  students find certain things very difficult despite their great efforts, to look for their bottleneck and how that can be made manageable.

At the end of my time in business, I was looking for a job with more added social value. I certainly found that in education!

You have an educational career, but you can start all over again. What would you do differently?

Haha, nothing at all. That has to do with the fact that I have only been in education for three years now. So everything is still fantastic and fresh. I still see myself as a beginner. I do see an enormous growth compared to the beginning, but I am still looking for ways to improve and I have a very open attitude to what colleagues are doing differently. I would like to learn from that.

You work at a Christian school. What distinguishes your subject lessons from the same lessons at a non-Christian school?

The best thing for me as a teacher at a Christian school are the daily devotions where you can really take time for a conversation with the students about believing in an environment where believing is no longer normal and the personal choices that it requires.

In addition, as a Chemistry teacher I am working on nature, which is made by God. That Divine dimension to creation always creates wonder, which I would like to share with the students. A statement such as “that our God made it beautiful / thought up” can be heard regularly in my lessons. In addition, stewardship for creation is a recurring theme in my lessons. And where possible I will link certain subjects to a Bible section. These are often pin pricks, but show that the whole of life can be permeated by God and the Bible. Finally, sometimes with a little wink in the clothes that I wear (see image).

The students leave your lessons and school. What do you hope they will remember about that in 25 years?

That I helped them on their way into God’s kingdom, that they felt seen and that chemistry was a valuable profession. In that order.

What inspiring spell do you want to give to the readers of the I&K Newsletter?

In education it is often about small things that make a difference. So I like to quote Matthijn Buwalda (Dutch Christian singer, red): “Become a true-to-life champion”