Montae (9) can be himself at university

"Here I can say anything and they don't think I'm weird"

Morela Kortstam came from Apeldoorn to Rotterdam with her son Montae every week during the past school year. At Erasmus University Rotterdam, Montae followed the series of lessons 'Klasje op de EUR' with the theme 'The Future': "I would like to know if extraterrestrial life exists!". The extra challenge has done him very well over the past year.

Highly gifted

Montae is highly gifted. Montae and his mother now know this, but it was not an easy conclusion to reach. Since they know, they can take it into account. By giving him extra challenges, for example. When his previous primary school turned out not to be able to offer him that challenge, they ended up at Erasmus University Rotterdam via a digital search for suitable education.

Montae was able to talk well at an early age, recognise logos and taught himself to read when he was 3 years old. He really wanted to go to school. During his first week in group 1, the teacher noticed that he could talk very well and asked a lot of questions to other children and the teacher. "A classmate told her that he had been to the doctor and Montae asked: 'Did you go to the family doctor, or to the hospital, to a neurologist maybe?
He was a very quiet child, but in class he was actually very present with his questions. He also found it difficult to wait for the other children when he had already finished something.

"Being highly gifted does not mean that you are a high achiever"

A long journey

In retrospect, the signs of giftedness were there very early on. Still, it was a long process until a didactic investigation showed that he was gifted, his mother says. "Being gifted does not mean that you are a high achiever. Montae actually started underperforming at school. Because of his conspicuous behaviour, he had to attend many interviews at school. "At one point I didn't dare go to school to pick him up, because there was always something. Then I said to my mother: 'Mum, you go! An internal supervisor noticed that Montae had a developmental advantage. Morela: "At the health clinic and at school they sometimes thought we were pushing him, but that wasn't the case at all.

The school indicated that Montae had difficulty with automatisation. Arithmetic was not going well. Morela says: "The school was very sympathetic towards him. But they have a system and cannot deviate from it. The school was concerned with the behaviour and I wanted to know what was causing it."  

What Morela also noticed is that for children who need more challenges, there is actually less help and less supply than for children who need extra help to keep up.

Museum week
"When Montae was about 5 years old, they had 'museum week' at school. He came home and said: 'Mum, I want to see the Night Watch!'. He kept asking when we were going there. And also during the exhibition at school, on the occasion of that museum week, we noticed that he was very good at learning when it interested him. He said: 'Those are Kandinsky's circles, do you know them, Mum? You don't know them?" and he told me in great detail how it was. In the end we bought a museum card and went to the Rijksmuseum. Montae had looked everything up beforehand. He said: 'Follow that group of Chinese and Japanese, they'll probably go there' and when we were in front of the Night Watch, he could tell me a lot about it. I had never looked at the Night Watch like that. And the bystanders said to me: 'Very well done!' But I hadn't told him."

Doing something yourself

Morela thought it would be all right in grade 3, but her son finished his reading assignments very quickly and then, for example, started roaming the school. "You don't want your child to be a burden to anyone and you're afraid that it's because of his upbringing. But you also want him to be comfortable somewhere. And in third grade I thought: now I have to do something myself.

She had Renata Hamsikova (IEKU advice) carry out a didactic study, which revealed what Morela Kortstam already suspected: her son is highly gifted. "When I received the report, I quickly saw: this will be difficult for the school to offer. So after a long search, I ended up at Erasmus University. I liked the fact that here you don't have to prove what IQ your child has, that that is not the starting point. Because it's really not only the cognitive; Montae is very creative. I ended up at the EUR because there is a limited supply, because there was no hard requirement for a certain IQ and also because of the subjects you can choose from here."

Montae went to a different primary school. Morela: "Because 'traditional' education does not suit Montae, he transferred to Jenaplan school 'De Korf' in 2022. There was a lot of consultation about a suitable offer for Montae. I didn't have to convince the director and teachers of the importance of joining the EUR class. It was arranged within a few hours". 

"I saw his hunger to learn again"

Raising his hand

At the opening lecture at Erasmus University, it was very different from school. Montae was allowed to ask a lot of questions. His mother remembers it well: "I saw his hunger to learn again. Always raising that hand. Later, he also said: 'I want to go every day! The lessons that followed were also different from those at school, Montae explains: "Here, a question is asked and you are allowed to think about what you are going to do and then you can go and do it yourself right away. At school, there is more instruction first. Then I have to wait. You also learn to work together to build something. Here, I can say anything and they don't think I'm weird".

What did Montae enjoy most about the past school year at university? "Investigating whether we can go to Mars and whether extraterrestrial life exists. I would like to know that. And flying cars!"

About our offer for gifted and talented children
After an inspiring opening lecture, you can start your own research in six lessons! This can be done at Erasmus Junior College, in a plus class at your own school or together with children from other schools in a Klasje at EUR. This programme offers intensive enrichment education especially for gifted students in group 6, 7 or 8. There is also the Erasmus Science Programme for the plus pupils of VWO and HAVO 2 and 3. The children are intellectually challenged and introduced to a different world of thought.
Under the guidance of one of our specially trained student teachers, the children learn how to set up a real scientific research project. Using the research cycle, the children go through an investigation step by step and learn academic skills such as listening, arguing, asking questions and researching in a playful manner. We offer these series of lessons in the themes The Future, Gaming, Law, Philosophy, Economics, Psychology and Medicine. (Montae followed the theme 'The Future' last year).
More information (in Dutch)

More information

The 'Wetenschapsknooppunt' (Science Exchange)

With stimulating, stimulating and inquisitive education for pupils between the ages of 8 and 18, the Science Exchange aims to maximise talent development. For this purpose, the didactics of inquiry-based learning are used. More information (in Dutch)

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