Why, How, What for?

If you’re an expat living in the Netherlands, and your children go to a local, Dutch school, you might wonder who is in charge, or how any teacher manages to teach these kids anything.

The kids are running around; outside, and inside. There seems to be very little respect for any kind of authority. Not for the teacher, the principal or even the parents.

If I compare this to Belgium, where my 10-year-old daughter Emily goes to school, the situation is very different. During playtime before school starts, they run around like all kids do. But as soon as the school bell sounds, they miraculously stop their game, get their school bags, and start forming queues. Neatly side-by-side, across the whole playground area, in pre-determined area per class/age.

It is relatively quiet, and their teacher takes them to class in disciplined order. Like ducklings following their mother.

Whenever I see new parents from the Netherlands at my daughter’s school, I’m always amused by the look on their face: “How is this possible; how do they do this here?”

The explanation of this difference between the Dutch and, in this case, the Belgians, can be found in Prof. Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimension Power Distance.


Chris Smit
2015 Spring

← Back