Living and learning together

Anouk Berger, Merel Timmers and Gerald van Melick

Recently, high schools De Passie and the Young Business School Rotterdam (YBSR) opened in Musa. The schools share the building containing 135 dwellings. Anouk Berger and MerelTimmers are students of De Passie. They are happy with their new school, even though it sometimes takes some getting used to ‘living together’. YSBR’s year coordinator Gerald van Melick hopes to involve the residents in the lessons. “In our view, working together with everyone in the building is a great opportunity.”

Learning and living

 “We’ve been in this new building for a year. We love it. Our old school was an office in Rotterdam-Zuid. It was always warm there. But the location close to the station was handy, because now we have to travel a bit further by bus and metro,” Anouk and Merel say.

Many of De Passie’s 560 students live in Rotterdam’s suburbs. Merel: “That’s why our classes start fifteen minutes later. It’s an evangelical school and many of its students really and especially want to go there. It takes me an hour to get to school.” But not everyone has to travel far. “One of the boys in our class lives upstairs.” Anouk laughs: “Still he’s often late.”

Quite special, schools and homes housed together in one building. Students as well as residents can access the roof terrace. “If it’s nice weather we hang out here during our breaks. Very pleasant with the beautiful view. We never used to sit outside at our old school,” Anouk says. “Sometimes we see a resident, but I think they’re more likely to sit here after school hours.”

The building incites curiosity. Merel: “Yesterday, a few boys of our school climbed over a fence and took the lift to the upper floor. They were curious about the view. Actually, we’re of course not supposed to go there.”

Glass walls

Anouk and Merel are enthusiastic about Musa. “We think it’s a really nice building. Particularly from the outside it’s beautiful.” But there is also some room for improvement, according to them. “We find the inside a little grey. The walls could do with some colour.”

“All the glass is really lovely,” Merel says. “Everywhere you can look inside and outside, because the walls between the hallway and the classrooms are totally transparent. Some classmates can get distracted, but I like not feeling trapped.”

The heart of the school is the high auditorium, where students take breaks. Large balconies protrude in the auditorium on the first and second floor. Anouk: “There we do our homework in between classes or we can just chat a bit.”



Gerard van Melick

Hands-on learning

The schools share the sports hall in the building. Here we meet Gerald van Melick, who apart from year coordinator is also gym teacher at the YSBR. Like Anouk and Merel, he is very happy with the transparency in the building. “Our students, and also us teachers, nobody can hide anymore. Everyone sees each other during class and when not in class. We already notice that all the glass creates far more peace and quiet.”

The YBSR is a small school of 200 students. They have been located in Musa since this school year. Students of all courses gather in the auditorium on the ground floor. Gerald: “The auditorium’s decoration is based on the story of the SS Rotterdam. Nice archive photos on the walls. The blue-grey colour on the walls gives a warm touch to the school.”

The YBSR is a VMBO [intermediate preparatory vocational education] school for young entrepreneurs. The school aims to stimulate learning in the most lifelike context possible. “Our students practise window dressing, doing manicures in the classroom and cooking and selling in the canteen. We will even open our own little shop shortly. Then local residents can really come and buy from us.”

From the street people can look straight into the practice classrooms. “Local residents have already spontaneously walked in, asking if they can get their hair blow-dried,” Gerald says. “We ask around to see what the residents’ needs are, so that we can adapt our lessons accordingly. The more lifelike, the better. Which is why we’re delighted with this spot, a real added value.”