The highest goal in my life is to get people into learning experiences that have a direct impact on the quality of their life.
It is important to beat ignorance, the cause of most of the world problems.
Surabaya Indonesia 1953
I studied physics and philosophy at the University of Utrecht and the university of Amsterdam. During my study I enjoyed innovative, experimental ways of academic formation from which I still bear the fruits. Reading Einstein was a key experience: it was the bridge from physics to philosophy.
I started teaching at the age of 18 on a low level high school and continued later as a teacher and innovator at high schools, universities and art academies, all in the Netherlands. I discovered by experience that, on the one hand people are dumping themselves down, they think they cannot think, are to stupid for mathematics or physics and are afraid to ask questions; on the other hand you can lift up people enormously. Just by creating a motivational content and linking their level of knowledge to nearby higher levels of more complexity. Complexity motivates people once they have self confidence. Even the so called lowest level of kids can perform superbly.
Most educational contexts try to make things digestible by pre-digestion, which is killing the fun part.
It cost me (with strong friends) two years of my life to get real philosophical thinking in the Dutch curriculum by law. This law (1998) facilitates 400 hours of training in thinking at high schools. We developed a three years philosophy course „Wij denken…” (We think, by Schwab and Boekstal) focused on the act of creating knowledge. We also developed a teacher curriculum directed towards capacities to create such contexts and experiences. This was a coproduction between high schools and universities, an example of practice based academics.I developed a philosophical educational lab, like „future lab” for the high schools in poor districts in Amsterdam and the Eurolabs for European high schools (Italy, UK, NL and Spain), held in Catalonia. (See future lab video)
The value of philosophy
I started as an independent philosopher to help business and government to work according to their good goals and ethics in 2000. My new base became Sant Climent Sescebes, a village in the beautiful area at the Costa Brava. It is a place for good living, aesthetically (nature at its best) and ethically (good strong tradition, also on wine and food).A strong moral in the organisation is the secret of success. A research of the gazelle group showed, that companies that survive, all share a common thing: they have a strong internal ethical code. Also strong character has been linked to good entrepreneurship. Nowadays this is even stronger: we are facing the biggest paradigm shift in the shortest timeframe ever: none can predict what is „on” next year. In these circumstances, the art of „thinking from scratch” gives you the capacity to act and re-act to any reality at any time.
I worked for big and small businesses, for NGO and governments to create strong fertile soil for collaborative creativity. It starts with the art to transform any group into a strong bounding collaborative intelligence. They will create a base of values and from this moral system they can develop further. When we use the Socratic dialogue, everybody can contribute from his or her personal experience to create complete new futures, and leave behind destructive thoughts or modes of thinking. Companies suffer from disturbed communication lines; before anything else, you have to solve this. For business I developed the Socratic design method, we can in a two – to- four days lab, develop a complete new horizon, with a new vocabularies and new procedures. The intelligence produces new products and services thanks to the out-of-the-box, thinking process. This is possible due to two factors, the company unites thanks to the art of listening, this changes the relations between the workers from competitive into empathic ones. In the dialog we also dive into the tacit knowledge of the group. With the personal experience of each we can create new knowledge. What they produce is based on their experience, concrete science we can say.I worked for the government of Holland and Paris to create Socratic designed future scenarios for some real great issues. High ranking people who normally debate against each other, were cooperating in the Socratic design.
In working for big companies like Rabo and Electrabel I realized how important philosophy is for business:
– It can bring to light on which pre assumptions we work (which can be cultural, economical etc.)
– We can connect minds to create a strong empathic collective mind,
– Sharing values and a moral boost energy in the company, creating healthy relations.
– You can imagine new futures and new services and products, by reflecting deeply on the needs of people.