Exciting Interview with Wieneke Maris - Winner of the Most Sustainable Teacher
Posted 12/12/2019 10:12

Our very own Wieneke Maris, Geography teacher and Global Issues Network (GIN) Coordinator, was interviewed by "Leren voor Morgen" or "Learning for Tomorrow" about her recent win of "Most Sustainable Teacher in a secondary school. Read the full original interview here>> or find a translation of the interview below. We are so lucky that Wieneke is one of the many dedicated teachers we have at this school. 



Winner Sustainable Teacher Secondary School: Wieneke Maris

A sustainable future starts with sustainable education. That is why the cooperation "Learning for Tomorrow" called on teachers to tell their stories. From 77 submissions, the jury chose three teachers who can call themselves  "Sustainable Teacher 2019." The coming time you will read their stories. Today's turn is the winner of the category secondary education, Wieneke Maris from the International School of The Hague. 

Wieneke Maris is a Geography teacher and coordinator of the Global Issues Network at the International School of The Hague. Apart from that, she is also allowed to call herself Sustainable Teacher 2019. The jury chose Ms Maris because she has dedicated herself fully to bringing the worldwide question of sustainable development into the classroom. Read more about how she does that. 

Global Issues Network

The Global Issues Network (GIN) is an extra school activity whereby students can start their own projects to contribute to solving world problems on a local scale. " The idea and the action come from the students themselves. Together with the GIN team, I guide them in this", Maris says. About 150 students of the school participate. 

What are the students occupied with? For example, LGBTQ+ issues or animal rights, recycling plastic, and climate change. There are also students who created an Amnesty game. At the annual GIN Day of the school, to which other schools are also invited, you can really see the diversity of subjects. Students give workshops to each other and speakers are invited. Last year there was a fashion show by students who were upcycling broken and old clothing. 

"A really cool project is a research project into the air quality in the school. Those students submitted a proposal to the school for a "green wall". This is currently being looked into as a possibility. Luckily there is a lot of room for such positive changes with the Management of the school." 

Impact of Students

Ms Maris thinks it's important to impress on the students that they are able to influence things themselves and make an impact. "When I was at school, this didn't exist, but I know I would have loved it then." That's what I like the most as a teacher, giving students a chance. As a geography teacher, a lot of the material you cover is about horrible things: pollution, the heating up of the earth, and much more. I want students to do something themselves" 

"I do think it's important to stress that the responsibility to do something about, for example, climate change should not be with the students. No, we, adults are responsible. WIth GIN projects you often see that it concerns little actions. And that is fine. It's important that they learn." 

The Subject of Geography

As a geography teacher, Ms Maris is often dealing with climate and sustainability questions. "I actually think that the subject Geography should be called Sustainability." To get students to think about this, she uses the GIN approach in her lessons: working in projects. 

An example of this is the Energy Challenge. Students research the energy use of the school and make proposals to management about improvements. As a result, the lights in classrooms turn off during breaks.

Look for the Collaboration

In her spare time, Ms Maris is also busy with sustainability. In this way, she meets many people with whom to work together. "The reaction I get is usually, oh how cool! People are often willing to come to school." 

To other teachers, Ms Maris would like to say, " Many people would like to make a connection with schools. More than you think. Use that! Collaboration with people and organisations works. It broadens the horizon of students and it gives you a lot of energy." 

Together with Colleagues

Maris would also recommend trying to connect with colleagues about sustainability. For example, she attended the Climate Strike in The Hague with a group of students and colleagues. "At first I was a little hesitant to do with from school. But many colleagues were enthusiastic and went along. It is nice to do something like this as a team." 

"Within the school, sustainability plays an important role. In Biology, Physics and Chemistry a lot of attention is paid to it, but also in the language lessons, teachers often use texts about sustainability. In Art and Design, many materials are reused. "

Via Teachers for Climate, she comes into contact with many more teachers who are busy with sustainability. "It is really nice to belong to this group, and to talk about this with colleagues because I am very worried about climate change." 

Education of the Future

Teaching in an international school is in certain aspects different from teaching in other Dutch schools. The International Baccalaureate (IB) leaves more room for the teacher's own interpretation than the Dutch curriculum. " I am aware that I have more freedom than many other teachers, which I enjoy. The IB is also unapologetically value-driven. We stand for a better world" 

Also from her own way of educating it appears that Ms Maris has a clear picture of the future of education: the student as co-owner of learning. " Education shouldn't just be about gathering knowledge, the whole person is important. Learning to collaborate, to mean something for others. I also want students to be taken seriously."


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