Student Work

Graduation Series: Thijmen Burgerhout

Tue 2 Apr

From the serene town of Oud-Beijerland, Thijmen Burgerhout, a 20-year-old student majoring in Art & Design Teacher Training (Docent Beeldende Kunst en Vormgeving), is working towards the end of his academic journey at the WdKA. Thijmen's exploration in the world of art and education has led him to introspective inquiries, challenging conventional notions of teaching and artistic practice. As he prepares to step into the world beyond the academy, we sat down with Thijmen to discuss his inspiration, motivations, and aspirations as he just started on his final project.

What's the focus of your graduation project?

“My project revolves around the question of "How do I avoid becoming just another teacher?" or "How can I maintain my identity as an artist while teaching?" It's a topic close to my heart, as I've observed many new teachers lose touch with their artistic side once they enter the classroom. I want to explore ways to prevent that from happening.

Q: What prompted you to choose this subject?

“It's something I've noticed a lot among my colleagues in secondary education. Many of them express regret at losing their creative spark after becoming teachers. I'm also concerned that I might fall into the same trap, so I want to address it proactively by making it my topic of research.”

Q: How did you develop this idea?

“It took some soul-searching and reflection on my past research projects. Initially, I had a completely different plan involving textiles and citizenship education. But as I delved deeper, I realized this topic resonated with me on a much deeper level. I'm genuinely enthusiastic about exploring it further.”

Was it challenging for you to decide on this topic?

“It was a bit tough at first, but every time I revisited my previous work, this topic kept resurfacing. I've had numerous discussions with colleagues and mentors about it, which helped solidify my decision. I'm excited to dive into it.”

Do you feel pressured as you approach graduation?

“Yes and no. On one hand, it feels like time is flying by, and graduation is closer than I realize. But on the other hand, the gradual pace of the project gives me some breathing room and helps keep me calm. It's a mix of excitement and nerves, really.”

What aspect of your project are you most enthusiastic about?

“I'm particularly excited about engaging in discussions with others about this topic and using my own workspace as a testing ground. Recently, I took my students to an exhibition featuring my work, and it was a vulnerable yet rewarding experience. I'm eager to explore this link between my teaching and artistic practice further.”

What's your biggest fear regarding your project?

“My biggest fear is that I take on more than I can and have to scale back my ambitions. I tend to be quite ambitious, and with this project marking the beginning of my post-academy life, the stakes feel higher than ever.”

How have your years at WdKA shaped you and your artistic journey?

“WdKA has been instrumental in my growth as an artist and educator. From foundational lessons in drawing and painting to more specialized topics, the academy has equipped me with the skills and confidence to navigate the art world and the classroom with ease.”

What's the most significant change you've noticed in yourself since your first year?

“In my first year, I was a wide-eyed newcomer, everything was new and daunting. Now, the academy feels like a second home, and I've grown more confident in my abilities as both an artist and a teacher. Standing in front of a class feels natural and exciting.”

How do you feel your time at WdKA has prepared you for this final project?

“I feel well-prepared. We've had plenty of modules on artistic research, so I feel comfortable with the practical and theoretical aspects of the project. It's not my first rodeo when it comes to such projects, which is reassuring.”

What are your plans post-graduation?

“I don't intend to dive straight into full-time teaching at a secondary school. Many teachers here refer to it as falling into a rut, and I'd like to avoid that. Instead, I plan to take on freelance projects, conducting workshops and art projects in collaboration with primary schools. The variety keeps things fresh and inspiring.”

What are your aspirations for the future?

“Honestly, I'm not entirely sure. I've learned to embrace the opportunities that come my way, and I'm grateful for whatever path unfolds before me. I'm open to new experiences and eager to see where life takes me.”