My application at St. Maartenscollege
It is the summer of 1972. After the introduction of the ‘Mammoetwet’ (the new Secondary Education Act) in 1968, Social Studies will be a mandatory subject for the upper school starting in 1972. I read an advert of St. Maartenscollege in De Volkskrant and the Nieuwsblad van het Noorden for a vacancy of ten weekly lessons in Social Studies. From August 1971 I had taught seven lessons of Social Studies at the Heymanscollege. An increase in lessons would be welcome on my way to becoming a fulltime teacher. I decide to apply and send a letter to the headmaster, father L. Muskens SJ.
I am introduced to a different secondary school and to Roman Catholicism, which is also completely new to me. I am very curious about this new experience. The application interview develops into a friendly and in-depth discussion of didactics and content which to me are fundamental values for the teaching of Social Studies. In his return letter father Muskens writes that ‘father Marlet (who teaches Social Studies) would like to make an appointment with you for further acquaintance and to discuss content and fine-tuning of lessons and teaching material. His telephone number is…’
The first barrier has been crossed. Relieved and happy I call father (Walter) Marlet. He invites me to the island of Schiermonnikoog for introductory talks in the Claercamp cottage at the Badweg. We make an appointment. It appears that we are going to take ample time to get acquainted. I find this highly remarkable. Is this the way colleagues at St. Maartenscollege mix and cooperate? Does this also reflect their attitude towards pupils? I am very curious.
The day of the appointment approaches. I am in two minds: what can I expect? What will the interview be like? And at a more practical level: what do I wear? I know Schiermonnikoog well, and when I am there I always dress casually, but will that be appropriate for this occasion? Will the interview be formal? After all, I have been invited for dinner. I opt for a formal kind of casual, a style which fits all occasions. When I arrive on the island and get off the bus at the Badweg, father Marlet is there to greet me, dressed in shorts and flip-flops. He smiles and bids me a warm welcome.
That day at Schiermonnikoog is etched in my memory. It was a meeting in openness and mutual trust, in warmth and hospitality, in commitment and respect. We exchanged ideas about education, about the central values of teaching, about an ideal school climate. We discussed pupils and their ambitions, and how colleagues should guide them in both cognitive and social areas.. We agreed that trust and loyalty should form the central values of a school. So far my religious background had been limited to Sunday school, but that day I was introduced to the mental legacy of the Jesuits, to their world view, to their perception of adolescents, to the subject ‘Mago’ (the combination of Social Studies and Religious Education) in which these views and perceptions were combined. We finish the day with a pleasant dinner and excellent wine.
That day I seem to have crossed another barrier: I decide that I definitely want to teach at St. Maartenscollege, with all the motivation and energy I have inside me. I am going to be a fully-fledged member of the department of Social Studies, which so far has only consisted of Jesuits. I feel strongly that I want to be part of this institution: St. Maartenscollege, a school with people on their way to a great future.