A Manifesto for change in Education

Note: this manifesto was written in November 2012. My thinking has developed a lot ever since – and my thoughts, ideas and visions are still deepening and being sharpened. If you can read Dutch, I highly recommend you to continue reading on http://operation.education to learn about our most recent thinking.

If you prefer English, I recommend you to read the transcript of my latest TEDx talk, in which I share my latest thoughts. 

If you are still interested in my early thoughts, please read on… 🙂

From Status & System to Value & Variety

In the summer of 2012, two good things happened in parallel. First: I realized that Layar, the company that I co-founded in 2009, had reached an important next stage and is in great hands with its new leadership. Second: I found my calling – in education. On September 27th, 2012, I announced on stage at TEDxAmsterdamED that I want to help change society by changing our education systems. We need to better prepare the next generations for the reality of today and tomorrow, so they are well equipped to make this world a better place. I am now ramping down daily activities at Layar towards the end of 2012 and started to explore my value in this field.

In the manifesto below I want to share with you my vision on why changing the way we educate our children is key to changing the system our society is imprisoned in. A system that keeps our society from solving the bigger problems we are facing today, such as our financial crisis, energy supply, overpopulation and healthcare.

I want to contribute to these changes and use myself as a tool to make things better.

I started with taking a ‘helicopter’ perspective; I want to diverge first before I converge and dive into something specific. I have given myself 6 months to explore this field, to better understand specifics and how I can contribute. In the past 2 months I have created an action plan and wrote this manifesto, for the following reasons:

  • For myself, forcing me to become specific with my thoughts and ideas
  • For others, to relate to and decide if you share the same line of thinking (or not)
  • It is easy to share, which can help to spread the word

Please join me on my journey – and start by reading (and have an opinion on) my manifesto!

The manifesto is set up in such a way that it can grow. Most theorems (‘stellingen’ in Dutch) can be clicked for more information and (personal) examples. I explicitly would like to ask you to contribute, by sharing your comments, additions, examples and ideas behind each subject. Also if you don’t agree, please share your thoughts – but make sure they are backed with examples, proof or other argumentation/ substantiation. I will remove non-substantiated criticism simply because it will not help to make things better.

Although I am by nature a very positive person (my glass is always ‘half full’), I sometimes use strong language in stating the problems of society, our system and education. I know, and have of course experienced, that it is not always that bad. But I want to make a statement about the general state of it. For awareness, it helps to be more on the strong and slightly controversial side than being too nuanced. So it is ‘functional negativity’ – I am genuinely worried and sometimes very frustrated on what I encounter and describe below.

Today’s society: we are stuck in our system

  • Our society is built up according to the status ladder – only ‘up there’ you are seen as successful. We tell our children from a very young age that the goal is to walk the ladder, step by step. Click to read more
  • Our society is also highly systemized – with org charts, KPI’s, standards, and goals. We are moulding people into the system – if you don’t fit in you have (or are) a problem. But people fundamentally don’t fit into boxes. Click to read more
  • The alarming high (and increasing) percentage of burnouts (in NL: 1 out of 8), as well as the surge in coaching and ‘personal development’ courses and books must have a reason. I think they have to do with both the status ladder and the need to fit in the system.
  • Only people who have learned to think outside of the system (‘box’) are able to challenge and change it. Only those who are independent of the system can create and innovate.

Our education system: not preparing for reality

  • Our education system was created in a period when ‘knowledge = power’ and it was scaled in the industrial revolution, where the world needed a rapidly growing amount of workers. The foundations of this system haven’t changed since.
  • The system is created to accommodate for the masses and follows a standard. Everybody who doesn’t match the standards, has (or is) a problem. In fact, nobody matches the standards in every aspect. Click to read more
  • Society today needs very different skills compared to what is being taught at school or university.
  • The way you learn at school (sitting still, broadcasting lessons) doesn’t match natural, preferred or most effective learning styles, such as visualizations (instead of words), figuring it out yourself (incl making mistakes), asking and discussing, reading various books. Click to read more
  • Standardized tests don’t even assess mastery of a subject. Let alone do they predict someone’s value in later life. Click to read more
  • Those who need to assess what trajectory children should follow to best prepare them ‘for the outside world’ (teachers), did not always gain much life experienced outside of school; nor are they given much room to do this.

Source: unknown, picture has been going around on the web for a while.

The solution: power of self: value & variety

To solve the problems of status and system, I want to start at the source – and make sure children don’t get moulded into the system. I strongly believe we can solve many of society’s problems if we can build a new educational eco-system which is focused on developing people’s own diverse and unique talents – and their value. Or at least create space for this within the boundaries of existing school systems.

  • People (both children and adults) are fundamentally more happy, effective and have proven to be more productive, cooperative and peaceful when their own talents, drives, interests and abilities are put at the center of attention.
  • Every child (high/ low status, high/ low IQ, …) is capable of discovering its interests, talents and capacities – whether it is already at a very young age or a little bit later when having learned what does NOT fit.
  • Children love learning – as long as they are not forced to learn according to a system which doesn’t reflect their own capacities, rhythm and interests.
  • NB: focus on self/ value does NOT equal selfishness; nor does it imply “let children be lazy and do only the fun things”.

Source: Erik Johansson

What is needed to make this happen: dare to let go

  • Fundamental rethinking of the notion of ‘school’, ‘lessons’ and ‘education’ including ‘teaching’ and ‘learning’.
  • Paradigm shift: from a focus on external drivers such as status, the system and (standardized) tests – to a focus on internal drivers such as value, talent and motivations.
  • Take ‘personalized learning for all’ as a starting point, not ‘the same for all’.
  • An ambition level which is set much higher: not delivering upon the ‘standard’ (good enough) but achieving excellence by facilitating people to get more out of themselves than they ever expected.
  • More space (especially legal space) for alternative education systems to bloom and new school types to be implemented. Currently, any school system which doesn’t comply with all ‘learning goals’ set by the government is considered a non-school, causing even parents to be taken to court for having placed their children in such a ‘non-school’.
  • Meanwhile, parents, teachers but also managers can already start to look at people, structures and systems in a different way – by for example assess (also) according to a set of creativity characteristics, peer reviews and limiting the status of hierarchy.

The pieces of the puzzle have already been created

In the two months I have now been looking into this field, I have been blown away by the amount of answers that are already out there. My starting point is that every part of the solution has already been figured out, somewhere on this planet. I am triggered and inspired by the following:

  • All the handbooks, coaching and personal development courses that have been developed for adults, focusing on finding your value – why not repurpose them for children?
  • Peer review or 360 degree feedback, instead of ‘black & white’/ right or wrong assessment: use a wider circle of people from various backgrounds to assess somebody’s potential.
  • The independent Project: a group of teenagers created a ‘school within a school’ themselves – they decide on the subjects they will focus on that week. They learn math because they WANT to learn how an airplane flies or why rain falls.
  • Sudbury Schools – every student decides on their own development trajectory and how to fill that in. Also in The Netherlands: Democratische scholen.
  • Highly successful game company Valve: “boss free“, every (!) employee has the mandate to decide on the course of the company. Their handbook is priceless and a must read! Download it from this page.
  • Leaders of the world’s most influential companies who are either under 40 years old and/ or university dropouts and who have a fundamentally different approach to talent and value (Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Sergey Brin & Larry Page of Google, Marissa Mayer of Yahoo, Jack Dorsey of Twitter)
  • Massive Open Online Courses (such as Coursera, Udacity, Khan Academy and many more) which provide free course materials from the world’s leading Universities or other high quality courses. They will drastically disrupt education and allow for every citizen to get the highest level courses, providing room for teachers to look more deeply into the students.
  • Teaching for a day, by non-teachers: Dagjelesgeven.nl (teach for a day) enables business- and other professionals to share their passion and life experience with students in school (secondary education). A great way to get the outside-world perspective in school. We just need another program to get teachers outside of the school from time to time and we are “full-circle”.
  • Mass customization – such as the way Dell set up its production line (personalized computers created with standard elements), or the way you personalize your iPhone: with apps (which all need to fit certain quality guidelines).
  • Prof. Robbert Dijkgraaf gave two amazing lectures on primetime Dutch national TV (“DWDD University”), one on the Big Bang, the other one on the smallest particles (‘allerkleinste’). Both were viewed by millions of people. If every science teacher would give these as homework and discuss them in class (see also ‘flipped classroom‘ concept), high class lecturing becomes accessible to everybody – giving room for the interpretation and deepening in class.
  • A company named e-metrixx created a creativity model (see below) which comprises twelve individual factors that together yield a General Factor of Creativity. It was created for and used in workshops with corporates – why not use assess children at school (also) according to this list?

Source: http://www.e-metrixx.com/products/me2-model/

Thresholds: awareness, inspection and… balls?

There are some major thresholds which are holding back massive change.

  • Lack of awareness of WHY the school system is not fit for reality anymore, as well as little awareness of potential alternatives.
  • Schools need to meet criteria set by government & education inspections. Criteria are hard to change, especially in case of letting go of certain ‘learning objectives’.
  • There are many initiatives in the space of education innovation, but they  have a hard time reaching the masses. As somebody recently told me (not my own words): this space needs more quality, energy and some balls.

My main starting points: pull, parents – and myself

  • Don’t push & blame, but create pull & traction: create demand for something new that simply works; the rest will have to follow or else become obsolete.
  • Focus on parents: I am not an expert on teachers, schools and learning methods – so I don’t want to touch this area. Being a young mother I start to know something about parenting. Parents are the key decision makers wrt setting the child’s direction as well as choosing the school types.
  • Focus on my own value: this ‘thing’ is so gigantic – very many different forces, skills, people and stakeholders are necessary. I can only contribute myself: my energy and drive, my ability to connect, my general knowledge of technology, my network, my experience and background and who knows what other skills I discover along the way…

Claire’s plan: massive action!

So – what am I going to do about it? In the coming months, I am going to focus on the following – please click through on each item to read more:

  • Grow this manifesto, making use of input from readers and other interesting sources.
  • Connect (bring together likeminded people) & Shape (define the ideal world, put a stick in the ground)
  • Operation Education: create massive awareness of the above in a ‘big bang’ on mass media titles in spring 2013.

Next to this, I will speak at conferences and events as a means to finance myself. You can book me via The Next Speaker

What can YOU do? Share & discuss!

If this story resonates, please join me on my journey. This is what I think you can do:

  • If you are a parent: don’t force the status ladder on your children – look at them and help them discover their own value.
  • Talk to others about this subject. Share this manifesto, join the Facebook page, start exploring other interesting sources.
  • Add your comments or click one of the links in the action plan to see how you can contribute!

Together we can change the world, and use ourselves as a tool to make things better!

Claire Boonstra

Published by

Claire Boonstra

Claire Boonstra, founder of Operation Education - feeding the movement to revolutionize education. I have lived many different roles in life - as a student, engineer, corporate employee, wintersports-blogger, strategic marketing manager, mobile future event organizer, augmented reality startup co-founder and now an education reformer and public speaker. But I am also a mother of three young children, a daughter, wife, sister, utopist dreamer, asker of difficult questions, visionary, improv dancer, skier, former glider pilot – and most of all a human being in search of how I can best balance my three main priorities in life: my family, my personal wellbeing and my mission to feed the movement to revolutionize education.

60 thoughts on “A Manifesto for change in Education”

  1. I like!! Congrats on this nice manifesto. I recognize especially the part about the status ladder. I experience it with friends but also with myself. If you aren’t on a certain “level” you’re behind or a ‘failure’. Which is very difficult because for example the economic crisis and all the choices in life. Do you know the documentary BV IK? http://www.hollanddoc.nl/kijk-luister/documentaire/b/vpro-thema-de-bv-ik-.html Nice example of people who are dealing with the ladder.

      1. Taught Montessori elementary/middle school for about seven years and Montessori teachers for about two years in Canada. Once you look past the structured curriculum materials which are comprehensive and mostly brilliantly designed, it’s a very student-driven education system, which prizes independent thinking, study, action, time management, originality and projects which affect the real world. Montessori’s concept of “Going Out”, or scheduling field trips to people and places which are an extension of a student’s independent study is the natural way people work. The Google founders attended Montessori.

        1. Thanks, B. Sutherland. I do agree that Montessori is very student-focused, but it is still a method or a system. And it is fully described how it should be done. Which causes almost by definition a set of rules. What if the context asks for different rules – can they be changed? And, at least in the Netherlands, all of such systems are also caught in the standardization-system. Which makes them unable to even execute on their own beliefs. How is that in your part of the world?

          In general, I am not preaching for a new system or belief to be implemented, I am asking for less, or at least different rules – those who are putting the full development of the child at the center, not ‘complying to the system’.

  2. I really enjoyed Reading your manifesto and see a lot truth in it. Unfortunately when looking at thresholds, I think the current corporate environment is a huge player.
    I have always been dedicated to my passion, I am smart and very driven. However I did not have an Msc, and with my bachelor I was not good enough to work for Ahold, Philips, Apple or whatever company I would apply. Although I had written articles, could proof that I had more than enough knowledge, because it is my passion. They did not care; I need to have a master. It is disappointing to see, I have grown up with a sustainability expert in my life (my father) and knew so much. They actually told me: Just go get your master and then we will hire you. Seriously? I do not even want to work for them anymore. Truth is: it is discouraging. So what did I do: I got my master, I did not learn a thing I didn’t know, but at least I could get the job. I could have done the exact same job 2 years ago, and would probably have been more creative and hands-on. But hey, if they want a Masters degree, than I need to go get it. It’s sad. They should hire for personality, not for skills, those can be trained.

    1. Hi Petra,

      Shame for AH/PH/AP, Its their loss.
      I’m sure If you would have met the founders Albert Heijn, Frits Phillips and Steve Jobs they would have hired you on-tha-spot.
      CEO’s directors etc are most often only concerned with their shareholders e.g. short term. A true entrepreneur is never, Richard Branson went public with Virgin but took it off the stockmarket fairly soon after that to get back in control

      I believe in finding your own masters with whom you share a passion. Without passion there is little energy thus hardly sustainable.
      Besides you didn’t get your master, you already were a master 🙂

      Did you know that 80% of the USA working force is not happy in their job?
      In holland they claim its 35%. I believe its much higher.

      It took me 7 years to get my HAVO and have been doing work that I liked and for which a degree was needed; different positions @ multinationals in education and arts. I have seen many many companies from the inside and more and more I have been asked to lecture and speak about doing this differently. I have several companies and work with children from 4 tot CEO. As far as education and career is concerned we need to get more diverse..and out-of-the-board, http://www.martijntimmermans.nl/1/post/2012/12/onderwijs-keuze-en-ervaringsdeskundigen.html

      So it is possible, even in the Netherlands 🙂
      I believe its about:

      Follow your Ambition: http://www.martijntimmermans.nl/1/post/2012/10/my-lecture-on-innovation.html

      Connecting generations through Storytelling:

      Find a stage and share your passion: http://www.martijntimmermans.nl/1/post/2012/07/performing-live-tedx-binnenhofhow-things-can-go-once-it-flows.html

      So we can forget about these
      Learn from others: Top 5 “regrets” Its USA (again) but I guess


  3. Stil reading, but want you to urge to make axvital change in your text

    The correct expressing is Outside the box thinking O

    Out of te box is = offtheshelf aka readymade

  4. Dear Claire. Nice job.
    Some considerations:
    1) I’m only ambigue in how far we should show a direction of innovation. With only more democratic schools we are not coming there/the needed mass to change the system will not be reached. I agree that there is not enough space for such schools and a good system should have that. On the other side self/peer/teacher assessment could help us to value broader learning targets.
    2) we need parents to be able to change. But i’m afraid to many parents will agree that more innovation is needed. But when it come towards accountability/gouvernance, a large portion of the same parents will ask for accountability requirements. Which will reverse their support for change. That has to be elaborated more.
    3) everywhere there are mission statements about talent development. But if we will not be able to support talent development via horizontal connections in the curriculum these will remain for most part a nice but empty promise except for a bit more music/artisticiteit/ICT/sports in the curriculum or for the very special gifted. I have tried to show the perspective for this in The sight of talentdevelopment. Beyond the promises. But that is in Dutch and tough material. You can find it on http://www.o4nt.nl under 15th of June.
    Kind regards Marco Matthijsen

    1. Thanks for your considerations, Marco.
      1) I’m not pledging for ‘only’ more democratic schools. But the fact that they exist is already great – and more people should at least be aware of such alternatives, which is often not the case at this moment.
      2) I do agree wrt parent involvement & accountability requirements. This is not easily going to change if you are so familiar with an accountability system. The only thing that will help is lots and lots of discussion and reflection about it. If people start to question their own behaviour, that will provide a lot of room for change.
      3) I am familiar with o4nt, will look at your article.

      Thanks for sharing and please continue to spread the word, discuss and reflect!

  5. Ugh, I just wrote a long comment and deleted it! Claire, I would love to talk more about this. I am in my eighth year of teaching and I think I could bring a lot to this conversation for you. I have been on many ends of this- worked as a scientist before teaching, have taught in “urban” and “suburban” public schools, yet both my daughters are in private (Quaker and Catholic). I am also National Board Certified and have received many grants for all different types of projects and have served on a Charter School Board. I think your ideas are great but my concerns are 1) many of the things you mention are in place right now, so it’s not clear what direction this should take, 2) doesn’t address socioeconomic and cultural differences that result in multiple problems in education today (low parent involvement, language barriers, segregated schools). That’s just what comes to mind right now, I’d love to talk more. You’re welcome to visit my classroom any day.

  6. Very interesting. What I can add is the following:

    1. You mention the notion “knowledge is power” as being outdated. What comes to mind: in the Netherlands we’ve had the introduction of the “Tweede fase” approx. 12 years ago (http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tweede_fase). I’m not sure if it was a misinterpretation by some, but it often came down to the notion that there was no need to stamp facts any more, since you could look anything up on the internet. To me this seems linked to our cultural aversion to authority. My point: knowing facts by heart stays important. If somebody told you his parents were born right after the second world war, it’s handy to know the war ended in 1945. If somebody manipulates you by telling lies, it’s handy to know facts. Knowing facts by heart will always remain important, IMHO.

    2. I think it’s great to give schools more freedom and space and agree with you that things can and should change. Furthermore schools are often pressed to focus on “numbers”, instead of actual results. I agree there should be a culture of trust and self-responsibility. It does remain necessary however to somehow asses how a school is doing. And to check if tax money is well spent.. Season 4 of HBO-series The Wire (http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wire#Seizoen_4) shows the complexity of these dynamics fantastically.

    3. As far as I’m aware Dutch Democratische Scholen aren’t exactly the same as Sudbury schools in the way they run things. BTW: the link in your article doesn’t work. Also interesting: http://www.infini.nu

    4. Education has always been closely linked to equal opportunity and the forming of closed elites. A new “system” should remain open for any talent.

    5. The Manifesto could use more grounding, in an ethical, philosophical way. What’s the way you see humans and human behaviour? What drives people?

    I hope this helps. Good luck.

  7. Hi Claire,

    Impressed by your talk, your dreams, high energy, passion and willingness to contribute to the education system.

    I am active in the field of talent-development both in corporate, government and education. I share your expierence in many ways. I am a farher of two wonderfull daughters of 16 and 18 years old. At the age of 10-12 they where full of confidence, creativity, playfullness and openminded. Later in secondary school they lost a lot of it. The youngest went from VWO to HAVO and later to VMBt, she even falies for her exam last summer for 0,15 point. She is bright, creative, open, sensitive, passionate, energetic and smart. She dances at national level, rides the unicycle, bakes wonderfull cookies and cakes, loves to sing, play and act, is good at social media and is a social being who is loved by friends and family. In the last years she learned at school that she is dumb! She even calls herself like that.

    So this is one of the thousand reasons I want to join your action. today!

    Last week I gave workshops, juggling with talents, at an ROC in Eindhoven and it is realy heartwarming to feel and see how talented these young people are. They need people who believe in them like you do. It is the system of education that’s wrong. We need to change that by changing the mindset of the people who work in the field. There are thousands of teachers who share your vision Claire, we need to do this just to support them and let them know we heard them.

    We can connect with Sir Ken Robinson, from the TED-talk School kills creativity, to strengthen our voice.

    It is as with sustainability, we don’t have decades to wait. Let’s start a peacefull revolution for bringing virtues in the education system.

    In my opinion every child has at least 157 talents. Lets aprove these talents and trust on their own uniqueness.

    @ your service Claire

  8. Dear Claire, Thanx for stepping in the field of education as you showed at TEDxED to see what you can make happening there. The other day I met Justo at our school Knowmads and was impressed by him. His TEDx Talk might be inspiring for you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHz5TKJcwMw What goes for kids who do have less chances goes for every kid: Who am I? Who do I want to be ( not what do I wnat to be)? What do I want to bring into this world? goes for everybody and should be the starting point of every education, I believe. Keep up the good work, need any help, let me know.

  9. An interesting manifesto that describes the way you view people in general. Although I fully agree with your analysis of the problem society faces, I only agree partially with the problems you view at school. And, as an experienced teacher, having many connections to ‘the outside world’, I almost completely disagree with your solutions. In fact, your solutions are assumptions which do not match teenagers. Recent scientific research confirms my own experiences that teenagers would rather choose for a short term fun reward instead of a longer term enhancing of the power of ‘the self’. Of course, a good teacher can tap into this reward center and still let the students learn at the same time. But bringing inexperienced guest teachers into the classroom will not solve the problem.

    Their is only one form in which the idealistic (utopian) style of teaching can work: individually. But tax payers refuse to pay for this.

    Therefore, let’s try to balance between the overly idealistic style of teaching and the overly structured way education has developed. A good teacher knows what is important to teach, updates his lessons constantly to make it match the latest scientific insights and also uses various ways of connecting this knowledge and expertise to different groups of students.

    And there’s the real problem with education: the lack of excellence in many educational programmes to create the best teachers. Let’s turn our attention to this.


    Marco Veldman

    1. Thanks for your comments, Marco. I love to have the discussion! With respect to your comment on the short term fun reward: I wonder what is cause (oorzaak) and what is effect (gevolg) in this case.
      Last week, I visited two schools with NO curriculum and FULL responsibility in the hands of the students. They all took complete charge of their education, whereas before, in ‘traditional’ education, they had no initiative whatsoever. So I have seen with my own eyes that this vision is not utopian at all.

      But I can also imagine that not everybody dares (or is able) to take this step and we should definitely seek solutions also for traditional education. And yes, teachers do need the attention they deserve.

      1. Hello Claire,

        I was fortunate that your video was posted by a friend on Facebook. Your Tedx talk was moving to me in many ways. In particular, I was moved at how transparent you were in disclosing you sense of “vocation” in to a public audience, and via the Internet. Not only did you put yourself out there, but you opened yourself up to the opinions of the audience, and now through your website. I wonder if others realize just how courageous your move, and decision was and is.

        As many others, I have done the corporate ladder climb only to find that I didn’t fit into the box. Eventually, I was able to return to school at midlife and become a teacher, which is what I am doing today. I love teaching, and am striving to extend the learning experience with technology, or “real life” experiences. Even corporate educational culture limits the ability of those who want true “authenticity” in student learning.

        Your comment on corporate culture limiting the talents/gifts of its managers/employees is very disturbing to me, as I see that successful solutions allow for diverse interactions within and without organizations of all types.

        Good luck with your vision. I will be sharing your talk/manifesto with other educators.

        On a final note, if you need a Canadian contact please do not hesitate to connect with me.

        Scott Townley

  10. Mensenlieve Claire, ik wens je een fantastische reis met de stap die je zet en wat het mag gaan brengen. Het verwachtingspatroon is zo geconditioneerd waar we de werkelijkheid van de personen niet meer zien. Hierdoor ontstaat dat kinderen op jonge leeftijd al door score bekeken worden en ingedeeld. Als je uitgaat van de kracht van het kind, het inzicht en daarmee kunt gaan spelen, creëert er een nieuwe wereld waarin geluk van elk persoon in hen zelf, de waarde van hen zelf omhoog gaat. Hierdoor ontstaat ook dan kinderen leren tot zelfliefde. Alles staat en hangt er mee samen. Dank je wel voor jou verhaal. Duidelijk en wat een reis ga je maken. Heel veel geluk gewenst het is meer dan waardevol.

    Zegen, Willemijn

  11. Hello Claire.

    Three and a half years ago I started my study, to become a Primary school teacher, on the Pabo InHolland in Alkmaar. Our teacher ‘beeldende vorming’ showed us in the second year an animation which I would like to share. Please watch it and get inspiration to go on with your fantasic mission. I have to write my vision on ‘teaching during my coming career as a teacher’. I want to share your vision with everyone. If only the world was ready to see and understand. And if only the Inspection was ready to see…
    Have you invited them for the 21st?

    1. Hello Bor,
      Sir Ken Robinson is the most important inspirator for all people involved in changing paradigms in education. His TED talk is the most watched TED talk ever. We are trying to get him to the Netherlands (not for the 21st though) but that is not easy, to put it mildly. But do spread (and discuss) this video amongst your own network, as it is extremely powerful!

  12. Beste Claire,
    Ik werd door een pabo-student geattendeerd op jouw speech. Wat een prachtig verhaal! Ik ga jouw speech gebruiken in mijn lessen waarin ik studenten stimuleer een visie op goed onderwijs te formuleren. Ik ga het ook gebruiken in de nascholing die ik aan leerkrachten geef.
    Dank je wel!

  13. A different aspect then, and my experience is throughout higher education, at HBO level. I feel it is time to challenge teachers/lecturers to enhance their level of resilience, and work towards being FIT for what the organisational future asks of each of them. No more routine working, no more being protected by a multiple year contract. Instead, an active invite to get ready to be your future . It is time: and all collective labour agreements ( CAO) provide ample space to do this. It is time to start organising at the level where it counts: student and teacher.

  14. Hi Claire,

    Interesting manifesto! But don’t you think this only applies to public education and not to private schools or education in general? In a free market where people have a choice no educational program or system can be forced upon anyone.

    “The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all, it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.” ~ Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

    1. Hi Claire
      This is in reaction to Petra’s comment, thanks for sharing

      Hi Petra,

      Shame for AH/PH/AP, Its their loss.
      I’m sure If you would have met the founders Albert Heijn, Frits Phillips and Steve Jobs they would have hired you on-tha-spot.
      CEO’s directors etc are most often only concerned with their shareholders e.g. short term. A true entrepreneur is never, Richard Branson went public with Virgin but took it off the stockmarket fairly soon after that to get back in control

      I believe in finding your own masters with whom you share a passion. Without passion there is little energy thus hardly sustainable.
      Besides you didn’t get your master, you already were a master 🙂

      Did you know that 80% of the USA working force is not happy in their job?
      In holland they claim its 35%. I believe its much higher.

      It took me 7 years to get my HAVO and have been doing work that I liked and for which a degree was needed; different positions @ multinationals in education and arts. I have seen many many companies from the inside and more and more I have been asked to lecture and speak about doing this differently. I have several companies and work with children from 4 tot CEO. As far as education and career is concerned we need to get more diverse..and out-of-the-board, http://www.martijntimmermans.nl/1/post/2012/12/onderwijs-keuze-en-ervaringsdeskundigen.html

      So it is possible, even in the Netherlands 🙂
      I believe its about:

      Follow your Ambition: http://www.martijntimmermans.nl/1/post/2012/10/my-lecture-on-innovation.html

      Connecting generations through Storytelling:

      Find a stage and share your passion: http://www.martijntimmermans.nl/1/post/2012/07/performing-live-tedx-binnenhofhow-things-can-go-once-it-flows.html

      So we can forget about these
      Learn from others: Top 5 “regrets” Its USA (again) but I guess

  15. You say that you don’t want to explore areas that you don’t know (teaching and education), but change starts from the front-line…particularly teachers.

    Even though schools have systems, in the US, the teachers can do “almost” anything they want within their four walls. You convince them, you impact generations.

    I’m glad you are taking on this challenge. Let me know if you ever want to connect to my future and current teachers (over 100 each semester), for feedback, to discuss, or any other issues.

  16. Thanks for taking action on this Claire, its inspiring to see! I”m glad you’re talking about this as change that’s needed both in education and in society at large, because I think much of what is wrong in schools is related to what is wrong in society. Looking at these things from america I see some differences in how status is perceived here from how I think it is in europe. I don’t think test scores and “official” accolades have quite as much sway in the US and it may be that the almighty dollar matters more. Sadly, this means that people who are good at negotiating get all the perks of society while people who are better at lots of other things don’t. Its completely true that you find leadership all up and down the status latter, and all up and down the income scale, and anyone who really thinks about it knows that your bank account and your value to society are not necessarily correlated — and yet, i think most of american society operates as if that were true.

    I’m really not sure what the best way to improve education is, or what the best way to change how people are valued in society is, but i’m sure they are connected. I think they’re also connected, at least in america which doesn’t have the kind of social safety net that europe has, with making the consequences of electing NOT to purely pursue money as your highest goal, less potentially risky for oneself and one’s children. There’s a long way to fall if you drop out of the rat race, it’d be easier if that distance could be shorter.

  17. The fundamental problem of education and personal development is that people are taught to look for answers and fixes outside themselves, where the truth is that people live the lives exactly the way they created it themselves. In other words people are fully responsible for everything that happens in their life. There is no other fix to this then teaching people to take full responsibility for their lives. Viewed from a power perspective, making people believe they have no power over their circumstances, is the ultimate form of suppression. Our society is build upon this paradigm. If we don’t change this paradigm, nothing will change. Everything else is just window dressing.

    Will your ideas truly transform the paradigm or will it just be a reshuffle of the old and known?

    1. In the end we don’t have power over our circumstances. Only God does… people always think they are the center, but God is. That is why how much we try we can’t get full control over our lives, and if we think we do, in most cases we have to disrespect control of other people to do that. I is a myth that you can take full control of your live because you have to live with other people and if everybody thinks that way the society will become less social.

  18. This development is essential. The overpower of the hierarchy is the key disturbing factor. Processes that influences me and I influence can only be atuned on places where we can correct each other in an equivalent way (not equal). That tension must be atuned otherwise I ignore my context or v.v. . The sociocratic decisionmaking in a hiërachy of circles makes correction possible. Democratic schools are an example. The ‘Sociocratic School in Zandvoort is a public school and another experiment in the Netherlands.

  19. Hello Claire,

    I have a friend training managers in Australia. She takes these managers to India to sit on mud floors and listen to women (many illiterate) who are out their realizing their dreams. They dream of a clean source of water for their village and make it happen, dream of a school and make it happen. The managers return learning that it is about their own passion and doing something with it. Being a leader is not about being told what to do but by initiating what you think needs to be done, how you would like to make a difference, make the world a better place.

    You have a dream and you are out there! And I’m loving it!

    I also have a dream and it’s also about education. I’m training to be a teacher (I’m a trained architect with 25 years experience in the field). I definitely think education could be a lot more inspiring and creative.

    I see the climbing of the status ladder as part of a materialistic dream (apparently we haven’t reached the top yet…). I was never really interested in it and have also not really been hindered by it; I went about doing my thing. As I am doing now. I have two teenagers and see the limitations of the Dutch education system. An inspiration for me to go into education (because I see possibilities), see what change I can bring about from the inside. I would love to help children explore their talents, help them realize they are the creators of their own lives, that they have choices. Life to me is not about limitations but possibilities. In the hope they will grow up to see what they and others can contribute instead of what they lack.

    Thank you for sharing your dream! An inspiration and fuel for thought…

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