Project in the spotlight: ITEPS students

“There will be moments when you just want to give up. But out of this frustration, creative ideas will grow - so embrace it!”
Lily and Merleau
1st year International Teacher Education for Primary Schools

Talking about and dealing with social-emotional subjects is an important aspect of a child’s development, yet when it comes to appropriate international children’s books, there are very few that can be used to help handle these topics. First year students Lily Godts and Merleau Schwieters from the International Teacher Education for Primary Schools programme were, along with their fellow students, given the task of creating a book that would help make a subject more accessible. It proved to be a learning experience on many levels.

Book development

Talking about and working on a social topic, such as gender diversity or coping with the loss of a loved one, can help children learn and understand others. With the children’s books project, students not only develop a useful tool but as the project uses the concept of Design-Based Education (DBE) the process they go through is as important as the final result. “Students are practice-orientated, developing their own identity and pushing their own boundaries when working on this project,” explains lecturer Kirstin Botter. Student Merleau Schwieters agrees: “You need a lot of creativity and perseverance, particularly at the beginning of the project.”

The students got to choose between several social themes. Lily Godts and her group chose to elaborate on ‘third culture kids’, children who spend an important part of their childhood in a culture other than that of their parents. “We want to make sure that children with constant temporary residence will feel at home with children who are in the same boat as them.”

Combining strengths

Although each group worked on their own social topic, the process they went through was the same. As were the challenges. “Collaboration has its pros and cons,” says Merleau. “You’re very dependent on the group you’re working in and this can undermine your own commitment. But more and better insights will also arise when you combine strengths.”

Trial and error

Following their internships in the second semester, the students were able to make changes to the prototype of their book based on the experiences they’d gained during their internships. In this way, creating the children’s book meant it was also an exercise in expanding boundaries, trial and error and broadening horizons. Merleau: “Presenting the final book was a moment we were all very proud of.” Lily’s highlight of the project, however, was getting to  know her fellow students as she thinks it added more perspective to the project. But they both experienced low points as well, like getting their project groups together and feeling the stress of upcoming deadlines. Luckily Kirsten has some advice for everyone. “There will be moments when you just want to give up. But out of this frustration, creative ideas will grow – so embrace it!” Lily adds: “And it’s important to adjust to different situations and to come up with creative solutions.”

Tackling social themes

All the children’s books that were created have been given a spot in the NHL Stenden library in Meppel. Kirstin feels the project is important for a number of reasons. “Apart from the skills the students developed, the written curricula can also be used by lecturers to tackle social themes.”


Design-Based Education

Read more about how an NHL Stenden degree really works and about how the way you learn helps you turn ideas into practical solutions.