Posted by: Corri van de Stege | August 23, 2007

Chance Encounters

Workshops to discuss the implementation of government
proposals for reforms in education and training systems post
Departmental shake-up (there is no longer a Department for Education and
Skills, replaced by two Departments, one called Department for Innovation, University and Skills or DIUS – NO don’t pronounce this as DAIUS, but it’s got to be DEE-US, and a Department of Children, Family and Schools or DCFS)
and as part of an implementation of THE SKILLS agenda.  Serious stuff.
Have I lost you by now? Does this mean anything to anyone out there?
Or have you switched off?
Not your cup of tea?
After all this blog is supposed to be about books and writing…
Hang in there though; this is the writing bit and a story about
Dutch people abroad, popping up everywhere, reform agenda’s, businesses, offices, public and private sectors.

A man comes up to our table smiling, looking questioningly to the empty
seat, yes it is available, and he sits down, his name card has been corrected, scribbled
across, something crossed out and something else put in, a misspelt surname, happens, we introduce ourselves, don’t get the name, English sounds Danish, then he
asks, are you Dutch? Me too, he says, on a secondment for a year from, no
not from Holland, from Italy, let’s call him Ben

His wife is Greek and children are brought up speaking Italian, plus, including
now of course, English, he is in London.
Over lunch we continue our conversation in Dutch, difficult, as the
‘technical’ terminology is all acquired in English, by both of us, in our different ways.
We compare the centralised English system, top down,
with the more ‘bottom up’, consensus seeking Dutch system and
then we start to talk about Eastern European countries and
support programmes and we work out that he knows someone
Dutch, he met in Rumania who is actually a friend of mine.
Small world, you think, a chance encounter in a small workshop meeting
in a  place in London, suddenly connecting across Europe and even further.
That conversation in the Dutch language in a workshop in London then links up relationships with England, Italy, Greece, Germany, Iran, because inevitably we
touch on partners, children, and grandchild.

An intense processy kind of a day suddenly becomes quite interesting.

On the way back home, not as late as expected, there’s no mishap with
trains or other transport ‘Don’t jinx it’ a colleague warned me when I said
I wanted to get an earlier train.
I had not.



  1. Education should be universal. Top researchers should gather together worldwide and find a system of education that has nothing to do with politics. The same education for the inhabitants of all the continents.

    My children are already well grown up so personally I don’t have now that problem that every time the political trend changes in the government there has to be a new system.

    Something that demoralises teachers and students.

  2. Jose : from Rotterdam (for a very brief break away) the English education system suddenly seems quite far removed but I will be back tomorrow and start tearing my hair out again!

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