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Wednesday, 23 March 2022 11:58

More than a statue in the garden

Rector Tom Brocks has been governing the former Carmel Lyceum in Oss, founded in 1922 by Titus Brandsma, since 2007. After WWII the school was renamed Titus Brandsma Lyceum. Titus' ideas are alive and well here, permeating the school culture.

Rector Brocks: ''Titus 's statement about Catholic education, 'knowledge is only half [the goal],' is the name of our school plan.'' Titus is referring to the Carmelite value of humanization as the goal of education, as well as the transfer of knowledge and skills. Today it is called personality formation and socialization of young people: discovery of one's own talents, awareness that one is part of society and co-responsible, and one is able to contribute to that society. 

''Teaching from this perspective is a part of every lesson,'' says Brocks. A fellow professor of Titus’ in Nijmegen, Prof. Mohrman who taught classical languages, said that as a professor Titus distinguished himself in this respect. “Before the start of his lectures, he would go up to students and ask how they were doing.  In those days such a rapport was quite unusual between professors and students.''

Being Known  

Titus Brandsma Lyceum clears out a week three times a year without regular classes. Time is taken for reflective discussions with students and social activities such as meeting ex-prisoners, excursions to the Lower House [of Government] or social institutions, places of art and culture. Brocks says, "Another of Titus’ ideas is also a guiding principle: 'As long as the good things happen.’ It is a statement that contains a lot of meaning. The expectation is that you actively participate in society; that you think about what is good and make moral considerations. It also implies there is room for autonomy. You can choose within the framework of what is good. A core value of our school is that you may be who you want to be. Titus Brandsma Lyceum scores high on social safety. We hear this from the evaluators, and we see this reflected in student surveys. It means a safe climate for one to live respectfully one’s sexual orientation, for example. It means space is available for disabled children. Being 'known' is something adolescents are sensitive to. So especially in this most vulnerable and beautiful period of their lives, we are able to accompany them.''

Legitimate Hangout

School leadership, in the spirit of Titus, must be in agreement with this, says the rector. ''It means keeping an eye out to assist your colleagues. What are you passionate about? How can we, as school leaders, help you develop as a professional?

Before the Christmas lockdown, our mentors spent a week having online conversations with individual students and their parents. The purpose was to hear how things were going, how they see things at the school. The listening was very much appreciated. But the young students also called on us. They said things like, “Please make sure school reopens on January 10.”

The students are under pressure because of the corona pandemic. Delays in learning forced all of us to make up a lot of work in a very short period of time. This evoked some resistance as well as uncomfortable behaviour. I understand that. School is also a legitimate hangout, I sometimes say. Being anchored with Titus’s values creates congruence in the school. I try to bring home that message often, at the opening and closing of the school year, at Christmas celebrations, and New Year's speeches, at parent information evenings and so forth. Hearing this gives colleagues and students a good feeling I notice.”

 

Published in News