The Gymnasium Erasmianum

Friday morning, 15 April, I was back at my old school in Rotterdam. There I was able to learn something back then at age 16 and even now at age 66. In its Vision – Erasmiaans Gymnasium, the school, in the line of Erasmus, says it wants to do more than educate for a diploma to form whole people. How do they do that and what comes of it? I speak with Rector Bouwien Bovenberg and also with two classes in the mentoring classes of two other former Erasmusians Joris Dane (4A) and Christo Hulst (5D).

First years college students from the Erasmiaans all go to their old elementary school to tell something about the gymnasium and its namesake. Not all of it turns out to have stuck after a few years, but they all had some memorization and also an interest in hearing more about Erasmus. Speaking for myself, I would say that was less so when I was in school. Some noteworthy comments:

  • Funny really that Rotterdam names a grammar school, a university and a bridge after Erasmus. What do Erasmus and Rotterdam have in common?
  • I didn’t know that so many schools in Europe are named after Erasmus. Why would they name a school after him?
  • He was better at Latin than I was. And he worked himself to death in it.
  • He was always striving for peace, but something happened during his life that led to a lot of strife. “Oh yes, the French Revolution.
  • If people with his ideas were at risk of being burned, how did he die.

Thanks for letting me stop by during this always busy time for schools. The sixth grade’s last day of classes was celebrated with an exam stunt while I walked around. And after corona, schools have enough extra to do anyway. Nice that there was also time to teach me a little.

Erasmus’ spirit concrete

I also heard in the teachers’ room that teachers at Erasmiaans act in and refer to the spirit of Erasmus in lessons and meetings. This is often not easy to make concrete, for example his aversion to hypocrisy. I was lucky enough to catch the tail end of a lesson on excessive police violence in the US. That led to a conversation with the class:

  • What would Erasmus think of such acts of violence?
  • He would certainly disapprove.
  • But surely the police have the right to use force for a reason!
  • Indeed they do, but they were given that right to be able to protect people.
  • Erasmus also always thought that you should apply rules not because they are there but to achieve a better goal.

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