Universiteit Leiden

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Education for double-quick learning children

Dr. Willy de Heer defended her PhD Thesis "The paradigm of equality in Dutch primary education. Research into education for double-quick learning children" on 12th September 2017. Academic supervisors are Professor P.B. Cliteur and Professor W.F. Admiraal. Second supervisor is Dr A.J.J. in ’t Groen.

The rights of double-quick learning children

In society, politics and education in the Netherlands, there has been an ongoing debate on the possible adjustment of the education of highly gifted pupils. The ongoing debate as well as its nature are not in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Recommendation 1248 (1994) on Education for gifted children of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe or the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on Unleashing the potential of children and young people with high intellectual abilities in the European Union.

Therefore the central question of the PhD thesis is which factors are decisive for the extent to which scientific knowledge on the education of double-quick learning children is being applied in Dutch primary education.

Defining the key concepts

In this research, pupils with an IQ score exceeding 130 are called double-quick learners or double-quick learning children, rather than highly gifted or highly talented children. This is consistent with the classification that is used in the Dutch school environment in case IQ scores are lower than 90.

The study addresses the need for adaptation of education for double-quick learners and the question why the adjustments are needed. Besides that, it shows the areas in which these children need adjusted education. Furthermore, the study goes into experiences gained in other countries. The outcome of this analysis results in the definition of the key concept of scientific knowledge on the education of double-quick learning children.

Analysis of behaviour at micro level

To answer the central question, the extent to which education actors and policy actors effectively apply scientific knowledge regarding the education of double-quick learners has been analysed. For the analysis of which factors affect this application process, the Reasoned Action Approach (RA-approach) of Fishbein and Ajzen has been used as a conceptual model. With this approach the behaviour of a person, group of persons, an organization or society as a whole can be studied.

Research at meso and macro level

For a thorough investigation of the behaviour of actors in primary schools it is necessary that also the behaviour of the pedagogical academies (pabo) and the dominant beliefs in Dutch society are examined.

Pabo, the teaching training institution in the Netherlands, is the main suppliers of knowledge for actors in primary schools and influence their behaviour.

The dominant beliefs in Dutch society affect the behaviour of education and policy actors by influencing their beliefs. Therefore the dominant beliefs in society form an important common socio-cultural environment of these actors. Besides that, these beliefs affect the national education policy by influencing politics.

On micro, meso and macro level separate research has been carried out: a literature study for primary school level, a case study for pabo level and a genealogical analysis for society level. Based on the results of these studies, the central question of the PhD thesis has been answered and several firm conclusions have been drawn.

Willy de Heer

About the author

After her degree in Public Administration at Leiden University, Dr. Willy de Heer worked for various central government institutions. She completed a degree at the pedagogical academy (pabo) and worked as a teacher in primary and secondary education. In 2010 she started as a dual PhD candidate in the programme of Leiden University Dual PhD Centre.


Leidsch Dagblad




Prof. dr. P.B. Cliteur over Willy de Heer

"Willy de Heer hopes to obtain her doctoral degree on a subject for which is little interest in the Netherlands. She has performed highly interesting research that touches on many fields of science. In that sense, it is truly encyclopedic."

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