Second-year psychology students at the Radboud Universiteit in Nijmegen have started a petition to be given courses in Dutch as promised when they registered for university.
The university decided to merge English and Dutch courses together and without any proper warning, students showed up to classes that were given in English ‘Dunglish’, aka in Dutch ‘steenkolenengels’.
Not only were the students promised Dutch classes, but their exams will be in Dutch, so having classes in poor English is making life worse for them and their Dutch-speaking teachers who, according to many, are not good enough to teach in English.
Although discussions are ongoing, the university has decided to blame the students for their lack of English. The university admitted to “not communicating properly beforehand about the language switch”, which is Dutch for ‘sorry not sorry’ and then proceeded to say that students use textbooks in English, so they shouldn’t really be complaining.
Well, they’re complaining because they feel they’ve been lied to and although everyone understands you want to cater to the British and others paying money to study for cheap in the Netherlands, you’re screwing your own people who also pay good money to study. Somehow, it makes sense for Dutch teachers to teach mainly Dutch students in Dutch in their own country!
Dutch psychologists will probably have Dutch clients, and Dutch students should have a say in their own education. There’s no way the university can guarantee a decent level of English in this case, bringing the entire quality of education down and cowardly resorting to blaming students in order to push their Dunglish agenda through purely to make more money off the non-Dutch students, or so it seems.
Earlier this year researchers from the Radboud University in Nijmegen published a paper that explored why people make wrong decisions when choices are complex, for example when buying a house or choosing a vacation. According to the authors, we over-think things. For instance, when we buy a house, we might attach a higher weight to a large room (“grandmother can sleep there when she stays over”) than to a long commute. The longer we think about this, the more scenarios we think up of what we might use the room for, adding more weight to that choice.
But the real-life importance of the room does not increase with all the uses we can imagine—it’s still going to be used a few days on average each year—whereas the long commute will become a royal drag after a while.
Another problem of over-thinking is that it tends to exaggerate framing effects. Framing is what you do when you look at choices from a certain angle. The choice for a large house can be viewed in terms of space, but also in terms of energy costs. It turns out that different frames lead to different choices, and that more framing leads to wrong choices.
The scientists suggest that if you want to make a complex decision, you still weigh all the factors, but then sleep on it for a while, until the decision just—poof—pops into your head.
Last week I promised that I would produce an accessible version of the 1919 Louis Couperus hit novel Old People and the Things that Pass if I were asked to. Somebody requested an HTML version, which you can now find at the Internet Archive: www.archive.org/details/oldpeoplethings1919.
The Dutch Book Week, which wraps up today, had a motto this year—Of Old People…—that was derived from the title of this psychological drama.