As a 12-year-old girl, I wanted to be fluent in French and learn all about nature, and I preferred to spend my hours in the company of a piano. So I was glad when I was finally allowed to move on to secondary school. From now on, I’d no longer have subjects called ‘arithmetic’ and ‘language’, but subjects which actually mattered.

However, secondary school turned out to be a place where passion was extinguished rather than stimulated. Because with every lesson they taught us, the grown-ups showed us that their subject was the most boring of all.

Fascinating characters

French turned out not to be a romantic language, because nothing is less romantic than monotonously chanting the conjugations of le présent and l’imparfait while your teacher is staring daggers at you. Creating music is no fun when your music teacher insists on sticking to playing do-re-mi on a piano which has not been tuned for years. And when a geography teacher who felt we weren’t quite enthusiastic enough about the rocks he was introducing to us suggested that we go ahead and lick a rock, the very thought of doing so was enough to make me feel that nature was something we would never completely comprehend.

I only have fond memories of one subject, which was Dutch. There is nothing romantic about Dutch. The language does not sound beautiful and is far from exciting. However, my Dutch teacher had more passion for this language with its hard G than any Frenchman could ever express in words.

We listened to music, watched films and read books which had not only been approved by the elite, but actually told great stories. Dutch literature was not just a set of years to learn by heart, but rather a series of fascinating characters from a previous lifetime. And it did not advocate Enlightenment, as a result of which I totally fell in love with Romanticism.

I still don’t speak French and I don’t know the first thing about rocks. You could say I barely learned a thing in the six years I spent at secondary school. However, those few hours of Dutch literature a week taught me the most important lesson of my life, which is that anything can be beautiful, as long as it is treated with love.

Moo Miero is a student at the Erasmus School of Law