Dream School: Changing the Stereotype of Troubled Kids

(Featured) Romy

April 11, 2020

Put a bunch of kids who didn’t finish high school, fight and argue with everyone, and do all the things you shouldn’t do together all in one place to let them better their lives. Sounds like the perfect recipe for trouble, right? What if I told you that that’s not true? What if I told you that it brings nothing but a lot of beautiful moments, tears, chills from head to toe and big smiles? Not what you expected, huh? Well, let me tell you why that’s true.

The situation I just wrote about is actually a TV show called Dream School. Some of you may know it better as Jamie’s Dream School, which is the British version that started back in 2011. The Netherlands TV channel NPO 3 decided to make their own season of Dream School. The fourth season is currently running, and it’s a big success. 

For those of you who don’t know about Dream School, here is a little summary of the Dutch version. In Dream School, 15 kids from ages 16 to 24 get put together to better their lives. Most of them haven’t finished their high school career, have had a childhood full of trouble, and fight with everyone. With the help of Lucia Rijker, Eric van ’t Zelfde, and a group of well known Dutch people, they are going to try and get their lives back on track.

Eric and Lucia, the two head teachers at Dream School.

You’re probably still wondering why that doesn’t end in complete chaos. Well, I would be lying if I said there aren’t any issues. Of course there are fights, shouting and massive amounts of drama, but not for the reasons you would probably think.

As I already said, in Dream School these kids are aided in order to get their lives back on track. The kids are often badly damaged by all the things that has happened in their childhood. Abuse, losing a parent, terrible bullying, you name it and it probably happened to them. Of course these kids aren’t going to trust the first adult they see telling them that they are going to help them. That takes time. 

“Dream School” Image taken from Google Images

It breaks my heart to see these kids fight. They’re fighting so hard to break out of their old habits. Needless to say, it’s so hard. I see an 18 year old girl fight off every person who tries to help her. And not because she’s arrogant, but because she has lost almost everyone who cared for her in her life. And she’s scared if she loves somebody that person will also die. 

I see a 20 year old girl who is in tears. One of the guest teachers asked her who cares for her at home. “Nobody, I take care of myself” she softly mumbles. She was forced to work in the escort industry being a minor because her mom died and her stepdad abused her. My heart broke into a thousand pieces hearing her speak of that.

But I also see an 18 year old boy who, with the help of the teachers at Dream School, finally dared to tell his parents how much they mean to him. Hearing all the stories from his Dream School classmates made him realise his home situation wasn’t that bad, but he never told his parents that. On the last day of Dream School, he did it. The smiles on everybody’s faces gave me chills from head to toe. 

A 17 year old girl storms into the office of one of her main Dream School teachers. They just had two days off, and she used those two days to look up as much information as she could about the study she wants to start after Dream School is over. This is the first time in two years she’s been looking into schools, and she was so proud of herself she couldn’t wait any longer to tell her teacher. 

These kids aren’t a bunch of arrogant, horrible people who don’t listen. They’re vulnerable young adults who act the way that they do to protect themselves from things that they perceive as dangerous. They can’t tolerate any more pain, loss and ignorance. They need love, protection and reassurance. Dream School is giving them exactly that. How about we change our prejudices a little as well? Because Dream School has proven that putting a bunch of troubled kids together doesn’t always end up in flames.

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