The Netherlands: Education


Figure 1.--Dutch boys through the 1950s commonly wore short pants to school, even in the cooler weather when sweaters were needed. This boy wears a sweater from a 1949 catalog. Note his school satchel. 

Dutch boys never wore school uniforms Nor did they commonly wear smocks although HBC has noted some Dutch boys wearing smocks and pinafores at the turn of the 20th century. Boys in rural areas might wear wooden shoes. Sailor suits were popular school wear in the early 20th century. Dutch boys commonly wore short pants to school through the 1950s, often with knit sweaters. Dutch boys increasingly began wearing long pants by the 1980s and now dress in pan-European styles of jeans "T"-shirts and sweaters.

Chronology

HBC does not yet have much chronological information on chronological trends in Dutch schoolwear. Dutch boys are not known for wearing smocks, although HBC has note some Dutch boys wearing smocks and pinafores at the turn of the 20th century. Kneepants were common in the early 20th ceentury. Boys in rural areas might wear wooden shoes. Sailor suits were popular school wear in the early 20th century. Dutch boys commonly wore short pants to school through the 1950s, often with knit sweaters. Graually boys began wearing shorter shorts and few older boys wore them. Dutch boys increasingly began wearing long pants by the 1980s and now dress in casual pan-European styles of jeans "T"-shirts and sweaters.

Activities

We do not have much informtion on Dutch school ativities at this time. Most children walked to school. A reader attending a rural school in the 1940s tells us, "I had to walk 1 mile to school every day. So I got my exercise." Like most European schools, the academic program was the principal focus at Dutch schools. Other activivities were limited. We do have a Dutch physical education page. And we note Kindergarteners going for a walk in a Dutch park. A reader tells us that actual activities in the parks were very limited. A dutch reader tells us, "Once a year we were supposed to go on an outing, but that was stopped during the World War II German occupation."

School Types

There are several different school types, such as a catholic, a protestant and government funded schools, also Islamic schools. Every belief can have its own schoolsThe Netherlands had four different types of schools. Cities and larger towns would have all four different types of schools. Smaller towns and communities would only have some and small villages only one. There always was a Public School (Openbare Lagere School), a school without religious instructions (although a Protestant minister or teacher would offer lessons in religion after school hours for children who were sent to these classes by the parents). Then there was a Christian school sponsored by the Nederduits Hervormde Kerk (Low-German Reformed Church), a school with Bible instructions, but otherwise fairly liberal. In rural areas we had the School met den Bijbel, a Calvinist school with daily prayers, Bible readings and psalm singing. A reader tells us, "I went to such a school, because there was no other. My parents, who were not religious, got permission from the school board to enroll their children. The few Catholic families were not accepted and had to send their children to a Catholic school elsewhere. The Koudum "Christian" school is in all likelihood a School met den Bijbel. Most farmers in that area were Calvinists, like the village in which I grew up." There were also Catholic schools, especially in the southern provinces of the country. There were also a few private schools in Holland. All the above-mentioned schools were subsidized by the government. Basic education was free, except for the really private schools. There was no kindergarten until after World War II.

Levels

We have just begun to collect information on levels in Dutch schools and our information is still very limited. . As in all countries there is the basic primary and secondary division. There is also nursery schools. We believe that the Dutch have a fairly advanced system of pre-primary education, but have few details at this time. We do not yet have details on the various grades/forms and ages. Tis we hope to eventually add. We have begun to collect images to assess the various clothing styles at the different grade levels. This of course had changed over time.

Schedule

The school schedule caries from year to year. The vacation dates are set every year. The basic pattern is a summer vacation, lasting for 6 weeks (July/August). There is also an autumn vacation of 1 week, usuaslly in October. The Christmas holiday is usually 2 weeks, in the last week of December and the first week of January. There is a 1 week spring vacation in February, a Easter vacation of a few days in April, a May vacation of a week in May. In addition there are a few extra days off, which individaual schools can decide when to take. This gives the religious schools the flexibility to take off their holy days. Islamic schools can take off Ramadan to be with their family. A Christian school can take off Pentecost.

Discipline

We do not yet know much about discipline in Dutch schools. We suspect that discipline in the 19th century was very strict and the classroom conducted rather formally. Another element is dress standards. This probably continued to be the case until afer World War I. Discipline standards and formality became much less strict afyer World War II. This was a general trend in Europe. but we believe was particularly pronounced in the Netherlands. We do not yet have much informtion here. The Dutch tradition of tolerance may be a facor here. Certainly after Wotld War II the trend toward social liberalism was a major factor. One question of particular interest is how has this trend affected education. Do children lear better in a strict orpermissive classroom situation.

Individual Schools

Readders have reported changes iver time as well as differences between urban and rural schools. HBC has only begun to develop information on individual Dutch schools at this time. We are thus unable at this time to describe typical garments and trends over time. WE would be very interested in any information which Dutch readers can provide about tgheir schools and the clothes the worn at those schools.

Handicapped Children

The Dutch school types Mytyl schools and Tyltyl schools are named after common children's names. They are for children with a physical disability and for children with both a physical and mental disability, respectively. The names are from the Maeterlinck play called "The Blue Bird". Two characters a brother and sister search for happiness. The sister is called Mytyl. The brother is called Tyltyl. The Scouting Nederland section for children with special needs (Extension Scouting) is named: "Blauwe Vogels" (Blue Birds). The scout's call the scetion Blue Bird seems the name comes from the the play. Shirley Temple took the movie part in "The Blue Bird" (1940). It was a box office flop. Shirley Temple played a rather unkind girl. The movie was meant as aresponse to Judy Garland's "The Wizard of Oz".

Uniforms

Dutch boys for the most part have never wore school uniforms, although we do not yet have information on the 19th century. Almost all of the images that we have noted in the 20th century are of Dutch children wearing their own clothes. There have been styles that were especially popular for school, but for the most part schoolwear is a good indicator of what Dutch children were wearing at the time. This seems to have been a realtively common approach in Europe as a whole. Thus these images are a good reflection of contemporary Dutch clothing styles. There appear to have been a few private schools that have required uniforms. We have not yet acquire any images showing the uniforms worn at these schools.

Garments

As Dutch boys did not generally wear school uniforms, the garments they wore to school were the normal contemporary styles. Dutch boys commonly wore kneepants in the late 19th century. They did not commonly wear smocks although HBC has note some Dutch boys wearing smocks and pinafores at the turn of the 20th century. Some boys also wore baggy trousers, although HBC is not sure how common they were. Boys in rural areas might wear wooden shoes. Sailor suits were popular school wear in the early 20th century. We have noted some boys wearing rather English looking school uniforms. Dutch boys commonly wore short pants to school through the 1950s, often with knit sweatrers. Many mothers knitted sweaters for their sons. Dutch boys increasingly began wearing long pants by the 1980s and now dress in pan-European styles of jeans "T"-shirts and sweaters.







Additional Information

Related Links: Careful this will exit you from the Boys' Historical Clothing web site, but both sites are highly recommended .

Boys' Preparatory Schools: A lovely photographic essay on British Preparatory Schools during the 1980s with over 200 color and black and white photographs.

British Preparatory Schools: Volume I: Volume I of the Apertures Press digital E-book book on British Preparatory schools available

New Zealand Schools E-book: Apertures Press digital E-book book on New Zealand schools available







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Created: February 23, 2001
Last updated: 8:01 PM 5/8/2011