Thursday’s full day (and evening)

The group left Leiden early in the morning on a train north to the Zuiderzee Museum, a wonderful, living history museum in Enkhuizen in North Holland.  Our time there allowed a hands-on exploration and provided students with food for thought about how the history, culture and geography of The Netherlands might be shaping contemporary Dutch education.

It also allowed for some relaxation on the ferry, some silliness, and some enjoyment of  rain-free day.

We wrapped the day up by stopping in Amsterdam and enjoying our first taste of Dutch pancakes.

And some folks participated in an optional (and very informative) tour of Amsterdam’s red light district, sponsored by the P.I.C. (the Prostitute Information Center).   Many lessons were learned about the deeply rooter Dutch cultural value around “tolerance” — a value that extends far, far beyond prostitution.




School visit #1: Leo Kanner

Today we had our first school visit to Leo Kanner College (a high school designed for university-bound students on the spectrum).  After an introduction to some similarities and differences between Dutch and American educational “tracks”, we got a tour of the school and had a chance to compare cross-national notes with students.  Some of the Leo Kanner students were in the middle of their high-stakes, “end” exams – which will determine if they can move ahead to a research university.  Leo Kanner students have a near 100% success rate (compared with the national +/- 70% average).

leo kannerQuiet!! Examsautism in adultsIntro to Leo Kanner

Tot Ziens Leiden

Our program culminated with student presentations on different aspects of Dutch culture and an evening boat ride and picnic on the lovely canals of Leiden.  First, photos of the presentations:

rhea table presryan presteddy presben prespeter pres tablerob pres

And then the canal boat ride and picnic:

boat grouprhea n dan boatpretty cafe leiden

Farewell for now, Leiden.  You have been a hospitable host.

high heeled wooden shoeskeysbidge wave love flag peg teaching webster LLC and bikes

Final Projects and Related Exploration

Students will present their final projects to the group on Friday,  These presentations will center on student-chosen topics that will help inform a group ethnography about Dutch culture, and these  projects also include a mock grant proposal for further study on the topic.  Students are in the field right now interviewing Dutch experts and collecting other types of data.  Yesterday Ryan was in front of a 1/25 size soccer field as he explored soccer as part of Dutch culture. Here are Rhea, Ryan, and Danielle exploring a miniaturized representation of the Netherlands at Madurodam in Den Haag:

on the train

On the train to Den Haag

rhea madurodam dijk

Rhea raises a tiny dike.

soccer madurodam ryan

Ryan and the mini soccer field.

To further study his topic, Ryan, accompanied by Danielle and Rhea, went to an exciting soccer game with Den Haag’s ADO playing PSV– it ended in a 2-2 tie.

soccer excellent photosoccer field and ticketsoccer good photo

Some fieldwork and the creation of a PowerPoint presentation will continue tomorrow. Busy days continue in Leiden!

Museums and a North Sea Beach

Busy days!  In the past several days we’ve visited several museums, most in Amsterdam, to learn about and experience subjects as varied as human anatomy, body art, and Jewish heritage in the Netherlands.  In addition, students have narrowed their topics and formed guiding questions for their ethnography projects and have begun to research and interview cultural informants.

On Friday we visited Katwijk Beach, which is about 10 kilometers from Leiden.  The day was sunny and warm and sailboats added to the North Sea’s beauty.  Rhea and Ryan swam in the chilly water and everyone soaked in plenty of sunlight.

Now, in the final week of the program, individual work on the ethnography projects will intensify.

In the Field: All Kinds of Learning

An important part of Dr. Peg Alden’s class “Methods of Cultural Field Study” is observation of behavior and cultural institutions that is captured in writing.  To encourage this skill, Peg is assigning students to write two journal entries each day based on observation and broadening to exploration/analysis/questions for future exploration. Here is an excerpt from student Ben Somin’s journal.  He is commenting on a reading that highlights the tradition in the Netherlands of tolerance of others:

“This tolerance is evident everywhere, from the legal prostitution to coffee shops selling cannabis products, to the massive gay pride event, one of the premier such events in the world. To some the Netherlands represents a mecca of hedonism and morality.  But for the Dutch this tradition of tolerance is really a practical tool for building a healthy society, rather than to promote any specific kind of taboo behavior or culture.  In fact there seems to be a clear distinction between tolerance and acceptance, as many Dutch people describe their own lifestyles as fairly normative or mainstream, even conservative, and do not feel the need to be involved in anything alternative outside of allowing it to exist.  Is there a difference in this regard between the younger and older generation? That is the ultimate question of social progress.”