As a kid in school, Roman Lenders experienced firsthand what it is like to be dismissed as a slow learner and what that does to one’s self-esteem. Lenders also knows how amazing an encouraging teacher can be and what a change education can make for a person.
Born in The Hague in The Netherlands, Lenders went to school in a rural city called Assen. His negative self-image as a kid who was different from the other students, who wasn’t smart, who was not good for anything got reinforced early on, but in the 7th grade this changed.
“This one teacher recognized that I am a creative thinker and she saw my potential. She gave me lots of attention and really believed in me. Don’t get me wrong, I was a weird kid, pretending to be different animals and so on,” Lenders laughs.
Lenders had also suffered from motor skills dysfunction as a child, with poor coordination, difficulties in playing sports, bad handwriting and the like. Lenders went through extensive therapy as well as school, and he linked those two together in his young mind.
“The thing that really hampered my performance and development was my own poor self-confidence. After that changed, it made me see the power of education and what effect it can have for a child. I could also see how many existing systems can increase insecurity, be a source of stress and just generally give people a bad start. It was really clear to me that I wanted to study education,” Lenders says.
Lenders arrived at the University of Oulu to start his studies in the Education and Globalization International Master’s programme (EDGLO). Lenders says he hopes to learn much more about educational policy, comparative education and how to create the best learning environment wherever his career might take him in the future.
Lenders is especially interested in environmental education, being that he feels very passionately about environmental issues.
“In The Netherlands, environmental education is kind of separate from the other courses, but the environment is interlinked with everything, with every subject you can teach. Societal, ethical, philosophical, policy issues. We are making a mistake by disconnecting it from the other subjects,” Lenders says.
Lenders is taking subjects like climate change very seriously and he took part in the climate protests in Berlin in the fall. He joined a group of people in Helsinki who went over to Tallinn and took a bus to the German capital. This meant missing class for a week, “something that would never be allowed in my old school.”
“Luckily, there are options in EDGLO. I negotiated with my teachers and told them that this is something I need to do. We decided I would vlog about my experiences and share what I learn with my fellow students. There is freedom to pursue things that are important to you, as long as you have a clear motivation and are honest with the teachers. This to me is an essential aspect of the Finnish education system,” Lenders says.
As for the future, Lenders sees himself maybe pursuing a career in an NGO or maybe as an entrepreneur, figuring out how to get people to take environmental action. Working in government and in policy-making is also an option, as he had an internship in the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But he still has to have his creative outlets.
“I like writing a lot. I’ve written short stories, journals, raps, things that are more personal and creative. I record music. In my internship I had to do a lot of structured, bureaucratic writing where I couldn’t use my imagination. And now I want to get back to the more creative stuff,” Lenders says.
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Last updated: 26.6.2020