Today ABN AMRO presented the very first Trotskoffer (‘bags of pride’) cases to pupils of primary school De Koekoek in Utrecht. Trotskoffer is the first element of a talent programme (currently still being piloted) for primary school pupils in groups 1 to 8.
The programme was initially developed by schools in close liaison with education specialists, researchers and scientists and is financed by ABN AMRO. The process is overseen by publishing house Blink Educatie, a specialist in innovative teaching methods. The programme reflects a more socially geared sponsorship direction for ABN AMRO: Partner of the Future.
Sander Dekker, State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science, explains, ‘Every child deserves to be challenged at school, to discover where he or she excels. The government is supporting schools in their efforts to develop talents. Even though this represents a step in the right direction, however, we need to do more to bring about an actual and widespread shift in culture. This isn’t something that schools can achieve by themselves. That’s why it’s so important to see companies such as ABN AMRO also putting their weight behind education that challenges children to discover their most deeply hidden talents.’
The Trotskoffer cases are the first tangible resources with which the groups will work. The children use the cases to save things that make them proud: a drawing, a difficult maths assignment, or perhaps a picture of a neighbour’s dog that used to scare them but that they have finally dared to pet. The Trotskoffer programme includes activities and instruments for teachers to uncover and talk about their pupils’ talents.
Director John Jansen of De Koekoek explains why his school decided to take part in the initiative: ‘It sounds very logical for the school to give scope to its pupils’ individual talents. In practice, though, it’s quite a complicated issue. Extraordinary and excellent talents are easy to recognise (a knack for maths, for instance, or musical ability). But how do you find time, with a busy teaching schedule, to uncover children’s latent talents? How do you encourage children to effectively develop their individual talents, together with their parents and the people around them? This is where the Trotskoffer concept comes in.’
This view is confirmed by Jorien Castelein, director of Blink Educatie, based on a study that the publishing house conducted among schools and teachers. ‘We found a broad base of support among teachers for talent development, which is one of the spearheads of government policy.’
Ernst Boekhorst, director of ABN AMRO Foundation, adds, ‘Every single person has something to be proud of. The aim of the Trotskoffer programme is to help children become aware of their talents at an early age and nurture them.’