Interview with Wendy Krol

Voices of Tolerance is a program of Our Lord in the Attic Museum in which pre-vocational secondary education students are invited to make their voices heard on themes such as freedom, tolerance and (religious) diversity. (In)tolerance is not an abstract concept for these young people, but an everyday challenge. In a 10-week series of lessons, the third classes of the KIEM Montessori from Amsterdam East worked on this theme in various workshops. Teacher Wendy Krol talks about it during a short interview:

[Het verhaal gaat verder onder de afbeelding.]

Photo by: Les Adu

Why the Voices of Tolerance program?
We have known Our Lord in the Attic Museumfor some time and we have also participated in Voices of Tolerance in previous years. This year we were looking for a series of lessons in which social studies, global citizenship and CKV were linked. Global citizenship is really all about tolerance, so we saw a lot of leads with the program. We therefore approached the museum to ask if they would like to design a series of lessons together with us and using the existing teaching materials.”

What were the lessons like?
In ten consecutive weeks we ran a very diverse program. Of course we visited the museum. In the hidden house church we could give the students something about tolerance through the ages and what ways people were looking to be themselves. In class we also talked a lot about the meaning of tolerance and freedom. We also had a few guest speakers who each made an impact on the students in their own way.”

[Het verhaal gaat verder onder de afbeelding.]

What or who do you think made the most impact?
“It’s hard to say because the overall program was highly cohesive and so overall it made the difference. Rapper Safoan Mokhtari and actor Anouar Ennali are huge role models. The students made a rap with Safoan and with Anouar they worked on theatrical scenes and poems. It was nice to see that these role models could get close to the children’s perception of the world, perhaps because they have a similar background. They also shared many of their own experiences; that was beautiful.”

What did you find most valuable about the program?
“What I found very important is that I, my fellow teachers and the other supervisors of the museum allowed the discussions between the students to take place very freely. Sometimes things were said that I thought were borderline, but we didn’t intervene. What was really nice to see is that the students were also able to offer each other different insights.”

What were the discussions about?
“Subjects that play a role in society or that influence the lives of the students were usually the subject of discussion. The Zwarte Piet discussion has been discussed, but also vaccination during the current corona pandemic. An LGBTIQ+ pupil was also able to express himself during the lessons. So there was also plenty of room for personal topics.”

The series of lessons is concluded with a performance in the attic church. What are the students taking with them from this program?
“The students have made great strides in learning to formulate their opinions and thoughts and to articulate their arguments. I also see that they now act much more as a group and dare to address each other more easily about statements and behaviour. Finally, some students have come out of their shell enormously and have experienced that they also have a voice that should be heard.”

Finally, next year again?
“Every school is obliged to do something with the subject of global citizenship. Global citizenship is about tolerance. This program is therefore a very good way to make children aware of what they think and say, and whether they are tolerant towards others. So yes!”

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