Educational project TerInfo wins prestigious Brouwer Vertrouwensprijs

© Stephanie Driessen© Stephanie Driessen
Educational project TerInfo has won the Brouwer Confidence Award , awarded by the Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen (KHMW). The prize worth 100,000 euros, is granted to the social initiative that consolidates mutual trust in Dutch society.

Classrooms filled with emotion and questions after terrorism on the news

After news of a terrorist attack, war, riots or political violence, students often enter the classroom in an emotional state and full of questions. As a teacher, how do you discuss such heavy topics in a way that helps students form their own opinions on current events? And how do you prevent polarisation? To support teachers in these situations, TerInfo develops teaching packages and guest lessons that are now used in more than 300 primary, secondary and vocational schools.

The project was initiated by historian Beatrice de Graaf and is a collaboration between History, Pedagogy, Information Science, Sociology, Psychology and Religious Studies. TerInfo is interdisciplinary and an example of collaboration between education and research.

In addition to initiator Beatrice de Graaf, TerInfo’s team consists of project leader Maxine Herinx, project assistant Mila Bammens, expert pedagogics Bjorn Wansink, finance coordinator Myrthe van Groningen, research assistant Laura Bucher and students. The teaching materials are developed in consultation with various experts within UU, knowledge partners, educational professionals and teachers.

Current events placed in historical context

Project leader Maxine Herinx: "Over the past year, we have supported teachers with lessons about the war in Ukraine. We have also provided them with background information and pedagogical tools on discussing conspiracy theories surrounding the coronavirus, farmers’ protests and terrorist attacks."

Herinx explains, "For instance, in the lesson ’What is terrorism’’ we show students that you can look at a terrorist from multiple perspectives, depending on your point of view. We discuss William of Orange, the ’father of the nation’:  a Spaniard from the sixteenth century would have looked at this figure very differently than a Dutchman would have."

Tools for teachers on radicalisation at school

Sandra Hakkesteegt teaches social studies and has regularly used TerInfo’s teaching materials in class. She finds the lessons enriching: "TerInfo makes abstract concepts like extremism and radicalisation accessible to students, so they can improve their critical thinking skills and properly form their opinions."

But TerInfo does not only help students, says Hakkesteegt. "It also provides tools for us as teachers to deal with students who themselves have radicalized. For instance, the materials allow us to focus on legislation and in doing so, we learn to disconnect emotions from facts."

TerInfo adds a scientific view on social issues and brings expertise into the classroom. It deepens my lessons.

Ilona Wevers, geography and humanics teacher De Nieuwste School Tilburg

Bringing science into the classroom

Geography teacher Ilona Wevers agrees. "I really appreciate the scientific approach to topics. It teaches pupils to question their own assumptions and you get to witness their learning process as a teacher. That is a big improvement when you compare it too random discussions in class where you as a teacher try to calm tempers."

Wevers adds: "I can definitely recommend working with TerInfo. It adds a scientific view on social issues and brings expertise into the classroom. It deepens my lessons."

Brouwer Vertrouwensprijs helps TerInfo to futher expand its network

Project leader Maxine Herinx: "Winning this prize is incredibly important for TerInfo. It is a huge compliment for the work we have done in recent years and also a vote of confidence from the jury in our future plans. This grant allows us to expand our school network, conduct further research and discuss more topical issues."