School visits #2 & #3: Visser ‘t Hooft & Joppensz

We have now completed our school visits.  Yesterday’s trip to Visser ‘t Hooft high school provided students with a glimpse into the “tracking” that takes place at this point in the Dutch educational system and they were able to compare notes with other students in small groups.


Today we spent the morning at a Christian (Protestant) elementary school.  Unlike in the United States, religious schools are common and funded as part of the public education system.  Students broke into pairs and spent time in classrooms ranging from our equivalent of kindergarten to 6th grade.  (Fun fact about the Dutch education system:  Unless they are “summer babies”, children start kindergarten on their actual birthdays.  Rather than having a whole group of new kindergarteners in September, the new students trickle in over the course of the academic year.)

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    (Note the green, noise-cancelling “headphones” that some of the students use.)


Translation: Learning is nice.


Museum Night – Leiden

All the students joined for a super fun Museum Nacht, where many of this city’s museums opened their doors to special, late night events – food, drinks, bands, performances of all sorts.  Canal boats rides with ragtime bands, disco dancing with the dinosaurs, chalk art at the university astrology center all added to festivities.





A typical Saturday (NOT)

We offered a range of optional activities to students on Saturday and, being the adventurous spirits that they are, there was lots of participation.  From the food truck festival at the historic PietersKerkPlein…to the Saturday outdoor market…to a relaxing visit to the LeidseHout park and tea house…students took the opportunity to enjoy the end of week one and soak in some much appreciated sunshine.
food truck fest

IMG_0178[1]  market




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 a 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