As part of the radix International faculty exchange program with the Netherlands, Marsha Pease of Amesbury, shown 3rd from left, Professor with the North Shore Community College Math Department, recently spent two weeks of faculty exchange in the Netherlands.
She was hosted by Marianne deKok, pictured far left, Head of School for IT, ROC Mondriaan College, a vocational college with 26 schools, 20,000 students and 2,000 faculty and staff. As part of the reciprocal arrangement, deKok visited NSCC last fall and was hosted by Pease.
While at ROC Mondriaan College Pease visited many classes, made presentations and met with faculty, staff and students. “Everyone spoke excellent English and asked a lot of questions about America and what it’s like here. It’s a socialist country so no one has to pay for college or health care. Students take aptitude and attitude tests at age 14 and depending on how they score, the government decides what kind of university – practical or theoretical, they will attend.
The curriculum is passed down from the government, thus professors have less academic freedom. Everything is standardized across the country. The cultural differences are huge, yet they are only marginally better when it comes to outcomes,” Pease said.
Pease found similarities and differences between the two country’s approach to education. In both the US and the Netherlands, she finds that teachers are dedicated to seeing their students retain and succeed. “They place a strong emphasis on guidance and advising – the ratio is 20 students to one advisor and they really follow the students if they aren’t showing up or doing well,“ she noted.
Students in the Netherlands have a lot more vocational opportunities available says Pease. “They have excellent internship programs where students will work on a job site four days a week and only come to college one day. It’s great on-the-job training.” Also similar to the US, Pease said both are seeing students getting to their colleges less and less prepared for higher education.
Unlike in the states, they are not yet emphasizing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) pathways, particularly for women.
“It’s always good to get out of your element, to see something new and be exposed to someone else’s perspectives, values and politics,” Pease said. “I think it makes one a little more tolerant and more questioning.”
In addition to Pease, five other faculty from Chicago, Florida and Virginia participated on the exchange visit.