Kimo Steenaart – 1967, has been a high school English teacher since 1996 and got her second degree in Pedagogy in 2005. She is a single mom of 2 teenage sons and volunteers mentoring teenagers who do not always get the support they need. Currently Kimo is developing her own school as a winning result from a competition for innovative education in 2016, set out by the municipality of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Her idea is to start a school where pupils, and boys in particular, achieve higher levels and reach their full potential by explicitly taking their biological differences into account.
The Dutch school system differs from any other system in the world in the sense that at the age of 12 (and sometimes 11) pupils are being selected into 3 levels: a low (age 12-16), a middle (age 12-17) and a high level (age 12-18). Because boys fall a little behind girls in their development, specifically when it comes down to the development of language, their potential and talents are often not recognized and so they are over-represented at the lower level. Once they are there and they’re not addressed to their level of intelligence, they get (even more) demotivated. Being appointed to the lower level is not exactly a boost to their self-confidence either and so to fall back or drop out becomes a realistic scenario.
In her new school Kimo wants to create a learning environment that is particularly appealing to teenage boys and boost the image of the lower level classes. A place where it is fun to be and pupils can explore, move, make mistakes, learn how to be autonomous and how to control their impulses by bringing in a daily sports program. A new culture where every teacher is not only aware of the specific development features of boys, but also has the practical skills and confidence to differentiate. And last but not least where parents are being made partner.
Kimo visited the Gurian Winter Institute in January 2017 and decided to become a certified trainer in the Netherlands. “It is my ambition to spread awareness about the specific needs and interests of boys and give teachers practical tools to work with in the classroom”.