Gemeentelijk Gymnasium Hilversum
Headmaster: Sjoerd van de Berg
The Gemeentelijk Gymnasium (which translates as Municipal Grammar School) first opened its gates in 1913. Throughout the following years a steady influx of new students led to continual building activities. In WWII the school stood out as one of the few whose students rallied against the Germans’ decree that all Jewish students be expelled.
Growth continued in the post-war years and ultimately compelled the school to remove to its present location on the Vaartweg. In the past nine years the school premises have been extensively renovated and accoutred with every device needed to come up with a modern answer to modern challenges.
A gymnasium education is marked by the central role played by classical Greek and Latin. A knowledge and understanding of the languages, culture and philosophy of classical antiquity enriches one’s intellectual capacities and contributes to a wider personal development. The study of the classical languages provides us with an insight into the origins of our culture. This gives us a better understanding of the relation between past and present. The study of Greek and Latin is part of a long tradition. A gymnasium education enables our students to partake in this tradition, in which social and ethical values are transmitted along classical humanist lines. A gymnasium education aims at a more than superficial understanding and a wide general orientation, which is effected through a wide range of subjects. These subjects are studied not just separately but also with respect to one another and in their relation to classical antiquity.
SOCIAL AND ETHICAL VALUES
Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire represented societies which were governed by a way of thinking different from ours. Through contact with these ideas students acquire an under-standing of the correspondences and differences with our present world. What we call science today is something that was first applied by the Greeks. They raised questions about matters that had always been taken for granted. Their own ideas and those of others were tested out through objective trials. The Romans further developed and applied this way of approaching matters. The existential questions which they put themselves are still topical. We find them again in the sciences and philosophy. But this scientific and philosophical world view is also something that we find in art and literature. Similarly, our laws and our political system have their basis in the culture of Greece and Rome. The most important aspect is perhaps that they laid the foundation for what we call ethics, our system of social and ethical values as well as part of our notions about good and evil. Above all, it is these notions that, in classical times, govern the works of historians, poets, philosophers and dramatists.
It would be wrong to think that the Gymnasium only serves to produce students with an aptitude for the arts. The school also provides for science-oriented students. In our view, they too stand to benefit from as wide an education as possible. The specialised aptitudes which are required by the sciences and such studies as medicine need to be embedded in minds with a broad perspective and a good ethical foundation.
The Gymnasium participates in the Beta Partners Project. This project, with both Amsterdam Universities as partners, seeks to promote inspiring and stimulating science classes and implement European targets for engineering and technology.
SYSTEMS AND THOUGHT
Greek and Latin are not easy. A good deal of exertion is needed for students to truly under-stand what they read. This is why translating original text remains an important aspect, most important of which the personal acquisition of insight in a given text. This sharpens the mind.
The students learn how to think along different patterns of thought as laid down in these two languages. These are more complicated and foreign than what we find in familiar modern languages such as French, German and English. As a result, such training becomes a mental discipline that can be easily brought to bear on any of the other subjects.
A GOOD FOUNDATION
Nearly every university study stands to gain by a Gymnasium grounding. Not only is it an in-valuable aid for any language study. It is also, particularly through knowledge of Latin, most helpful for the studies of law and medicine. In much the same way, a knowledge of the classics and their languages is an excellent, if not indispensable, aid to master such studies as history, art history, philosophy and archaeology. A classical education is a great asset in all these situations.
The Hilversum Gemeentelijk Gymnasium is a school open to all advanced secondary school students willing to move beyond mediocrity. We seek to be, to the best of our ability, a school that provides an inspiring and stimulating environment for young people with a more than average intellectual curiosity. We further seek to help them develop their creative, critical, ethically constructive and intellectual abilities, within the perspective of the world as a global village in which they can move as if born to the place where they are. A major instrument used to effectuate all this is the emphasis which we put on the study of Greek and Latin as a means to stimulate logical, ethical, beyond-the-border and creative thinking.
VIRTUS QUAERIT INTELLECTUM
This is our school motto, which basically repeats our school formula as expressed above. We seeks to develop our students’ minds intellectually but also socially and emotionally. The motto says that virtue – that is, being a good person – requires ( quaerit ) a well-informed mind.
INTERNATIONAL EDUCATIONAL AMBITIONS
Mondialisation – the world at your doorstep
We live in a global village: the world is getting smaller, borders are fading. While business companies and governments have long recognised the impact and consequences of globalisation, its influence has only faintly made itself felt in the field of education. In other words, the question what globalisation means for secondary education is one that has rarely been put. With a view to its students’ future, the Gemeentelijk Gymnasium wishes to change this and open up new vistas.
“ In order to understand our own society better it is important to relate it to other cultures that have entirely different customs and institutionalised obligations.” Monique van de Ven, Dutch Unesco ambassador
Hilversum Gemeentelijk Gymnasium – tradition and ambition
The Hilversum Gemeentelijk Gymnasium is a school with a long tradition. For over 90 years our school has sought to provide its own special brand of classically oriented education to advanced secondary school students. Greek and Latin are essential elements. But … ancient as these two languages may sound, the education that we offer has kept up with the times. With an eye to a future when international competition will loom large we aim to stimulate our students into putting their best foot forward. We seek to be a warm nest enabling our students’ ambitions to come to fulfilment as best as possible: a school for students who are ambitious and above average.
‘Teach us to understand the world’
Mondialisation is a topic that has been widely discussed in the Gemeentelijk Gymnasium.
In several meetings students as well as parents and staff have extensively contributed to the ideas that, at this time, we are busy implementing in our new school policy.
One major point that came up in our discussions is that our students want to be well-prepared to meet the world at large. This is why we have selected as our special theme: ‘Teach us to understand the world’.
The world in the classroom - institutionalised projects and new ones
Our extra-curricular subjects are part and parcel of our ideas on mondialisation. Thus we have been active on several European student exchange projects since the mid-80s and we would not wish to do without them. Another mondialisation project was initiated in 2006: we are now offering our students special classes in Chinese and Cambridge English which come with internationally recognised certificates (FCE and CAE). In addition to Chinese classes, we offer our students the possibility of participating in our exchange programme with the Chen Jinglun High School in Beijing. We can already look back on two successful visits: in 2007 our students visited the Chen Jinglun High School and in January 2009 it was our turn to host a group of Chinese students. In 2010, our students will be the first Dutch secondary school students to take an official final exam in the Chinese language.
The Road to the Future
Mondialisation is an on-going process yet not something to be effected in brief moment. It requires a considerable change in thinking on what we wish education to be. Such a change takes time. It is, we feel, not a matter of introducing new subjects, which in a system of a fixed number of weekly classes would be at the expense of other subjects and might not prove to be viable at the end of the day. All the same, we see innovation as attractive and as a potential incentive for further developments. Of course, any such changes are a matter of good internal consultation and consensus. After all, education is a matter of doing and supporting things together: who could do without the students, teachers, staff, parents, principal and vice-principals, or board?
“It is becoming increasingly important to understand and appreciate other cultures. The Gemeentelijk Gymnasium is well aware of this and applies this understanding in the way it formulates its educational programme.” Rijkman Groenink, former CEO - ABN AMRO BANK
With an eye to mondialisation, the Gemeentelijk Gymnasium seeks to effect essential changes in the education of its students. Ambition, tradition and mutuality are at its core. Young people leave their nests. When, after a few years, they return they do so with a wealth of international experience. Once here again, they will occupy key positions in a changed world. At home, in the street where they live, in the office or on the sports grounds they will be giving shape to the future. After all, the world does not just begin past the national border, it begins at your doorstep.