The purpose of education

Registration of my TED talk at TEDxErasmusUniversity on October 24th 2015. The talk is also set out in the story below.

I have spent the first 30 years of my life trying to fit the mold.

  • In school, I tried to cope with the social norms of my year class – but I never really fitted in. Which made me feel very insecure.
  • In university, studying to become a TU Delft Civil Engineer, my interests were broader than the available curriculum – which made me think that I wasn’t a very good engineer.
  • In my corporate career at KPN and Unilever, I didn’t meet the nicely rounded profile of the ideal manager. So I had to do less of what I was too good at and was continuously working to improve my weak, or so called development points.


I tried to aim as high as I could – because higher is always better, right? I was listening very strongly to all the good advice that others in my “system” gave me: parents, educators, study advisors, mentors, managers, society – all advice given out of love, and best intentions. Because this is the way it works. This is the system. We don’t know any better.

Looking back, the mold or the norm was not, or only in a limited part, in line with my natural strengths. And my natural strengths were not acknowledged and not developed – not by myself and not by others.
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