Rethink works on several levels, as different challenges demand different solutions. In addition to stimulating the recreating of narratives revolving around diversity and education that supports such narratives, Rethink aims to reform current power structures. Those in power are questioned and those in the margins are offered a platform.
Old narratives about identity and heritage can start wars. New narratives, however, have the capacity to start revolutions. Both old and new narratives can contribute to segregation, but also bring communities closer together. Whereas education is founded upon sharing knowledge, history and identity, all these are dependent on shared narratives and stories.
Who dictates the past controls the present.
Who controls the present shapes the future.
Rethink, using statistics and research, questions existing narratives, sheds light on invisible narratives and produces new narratives, which are divers, horizontal and transparent. In this way, individual histories, heritages and identities are connected to the local, regional and global narratives, as well as to the past, present and future. In this way, Rethink contributes to critical approaches towards certain histories and stimulates a more inclusive future. All this in the context of Amsterdam and its inhabitants.
Rethink thereby maps the route to inclusive and divers forms of education, highlighting neglected narratives and the institutional bottlenecks that contribute to the (systemic) exclusion of certain groups in society.
Education is the route to citizenship and leadership and therefore the foundation of democracy. Educational statistics are a good indicator of the state of citizenship in a democracy. A substantial percentage of children with (partial) backgrounds from outside of the Netherlands, fall outside of educational norms and average statistics. In 2016, only 13% of students at the University of Amsterdam had a background from outside of the Netherlands. Adding to this, these are the students that are most likely to drop out of university during the first year. From the first grades of primary school all the way up to higher education, it seems as though students with mixed or non-Dutch heritage are offered lesser opportunities to progress successfully through education, despite forming a substantial portion of the total number of students. In order to address this issue and force the municipality to do so as well, Rethink works on two levels:
The reforming of curricula, particularly the histories and narratives that are being taught.
The highlighting of educational segregation and inequality
In the process of evaluating and questioning narratives, people might feel accused or shamed. In order to prevent, or instead highlight such sentiments, Rethink utilises art and culture, thereby stimulating individual interactions with themes and topics. Art allows individuals to digest and reflect, introduces change gradually and helps the processing and understanding of reform. In this way, art paves the way for inclusive and diverse policies, education and leadership in a nuanced, less confrontational way. Rethink thus stimulates creatives solutions which are grounded in social and historical contexts and therefore foster long term change.