MPC and Sundial dive into (international) research

MPC and Sundial dive into (international) research

By Annelie Volgers

The following is a reflection by researcher Annelie Volgers, who executed research at Milton Peters College (MPC) and Sundial School as part of her Postgraduate Master of Educational Leadership Program. Volgers is a manager and teacher at the Regius College Schagen, in Noord-Holland, The Netherlands.

We often assume we know what the other means, thinks or wants… but we don’t check too often. MPC and Sundial therefore participated in an international research project to find out if students, teachers and school management have the same ideas about several educational concepts, those being self-sufficiency, responsibility, motivation, (social) safety and (the enforcement of) rules.

The selected group of participants (a second- and fourth-year class, their teachers and the school management) may have been small, but the survey and in-depth conversations provided some valuable insights.

When asked about responsibility and self-sufficiency, all participants combined those two. One cannot function without the other. However, both at MPC and Sundial, it was the students who made a clear distinction between the short(er) and long(er) term. In other words, between school-related and not-confined-to-school.

They may not always show it, but students here (much more than in the Netherlands) certainly seemed aware of the importance of their education and emphasized that they appreciate their teachers urging them on to get good grades. Of course, there is always the possibility they have given socially desirable answers, but the (sometimes very personal) answers given to the open questions would indicate otherwise.

The participants had different ideas about alignment. One side wished that rules were applied by everyone in the same way; the other side didn’t mind some (or big) differences. This may be a starting point for greater effectiveness: first laying down some joint agreements and subsequently a dialogue when (not) to deviate from the rule. Instead of endlessly trying to get everybody on the same page (or “all noses in the same direction”, as the Dutch saying goes), this would give the possibility to give both sides both directions and the so desired autonomy.

Photo: Annelie Volgers. Courtesy of MPC.

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