Creating the best school for the Netherlands and the world

I met Marcel Kampman recently. He was born, lives and works in a small town, 130 kms from Amsterdam, Meppel. This week I learned that Marcel is a father of two. His dream is that his children will be inspired to achieve brilliance by the teachers that teach them, the curriculum that they are taught and by the schools that they attend. A dream that I share for children around the world. But he also realises that this may be a pipe dream since it’s a scientific fact that children are far more creative at the age of 4, a whopping 98%; than at the age of 18, a depressing 2%. Sir Ken Robinson’s book, The Element: How finding your passion changes everything and TED talks reveal that schools actually stifle creativity instead of nurturing it. Seemingly, when we start school, we’re at our fullest potential but, each time we make choices, we leave ourselves fewer and fewer opportunities, which slims down our potential when we finally complete our education. “The more you choose, the more you lose.”

With this in mind, what if you could reinvent a school from scratch? What would you change? How would the technologies that reinvent education impact the construction and design of the building? How and what would you teach? Unlike many before him, Marcel Kampman has stood up to the challenge and Dreamschool Foundation and Project DreamSchool was born in the Netherlands. He’s now spreading the word at Lift and TED, gathering opinions and ideas and reinventing schools. Watch his presentation at Lift.

And, let’s face it, creating anything new in schools is a scary task. There’s that break with tradition and everything that’s governmental and bureaucratic. The project innovators of Dreamschool are ‘making it up as they go along’, since very little they think about, has been done before. They do have help from brilliant minds around the world though e.g. Sir Ken Robinson.

Am I curious as to where it will end up? Yes, sure I am! Do I believe it can work? Yes, I do. The biggest dreams start with the most ordinary people. What makes these people different, is that they dare to try. The stone age didn’t end due to a lack of stones you know. So, perhaps the age of classical education ends here! You can follow Marcel and the activities of Project Dreamschool on his website or you can follow him on twitter.

Teaching 9 year olds about Social Media

This week, Fair Chance Foundation hosted its annual Impact Day. This is when every Deloitte employee around the world gets to trade 8 hours of regular work to volunteer in the community. In the Netherlands, we hosted Impact Day on Wednesday, 28th September. We facilitated 38 educational projects with a reach of over 2000 students. All made possible by more than 400 Deloitte employees and excellent community partners. Click here for an impression of the day.

I visited 3 projects on Impact Day, but I have only one favourite and admittedly it’s a project which I wrote about in August. Linda Vonhoff and Thijs van de Reep of Social MediaWijs hosted a social media boot camp for 9 and 10 year olds along with my social media colleagues, Roos van Vugt and Jochem Koole and an enthusiast from our recruiting department, Berend Buitink. The boot camp teaches young kids all the fun things that they can do with social media and the internet as well as highlighting some of the evils.

The primary school, at which this social media boot camp was held, is situated in a less privileged neighbourhood of Amsterdam. The kids that attend the school don’t all own computers at home and they were absolutely thrilled to be able to use an ipad ‘of their own’ for the morning.

What an experience! A classroom full of extremely eager children, learning about the use of Twitter, Facebook, Hyves, Google and YouTube. With funny animal films and Mr. Bean being the hit of the day! The children not only learned about the good, but also about the ugly on social media sites; that not everyone on the web is good and honest and not everything you read is true.

Congrats to Apple though! Ipad is so totally intuitive that the kids all breezed through the lesson with absolutely no problems at all. Some of the kids quickly realized that it wasn’t even necessary to search for a site through Google since the Apps were available on the homepage.

When I was growing up, I never paid much notice to the neighbourhood that we lived in, the schools that I attended or the ‘other things’ that I probably took for granted. It’s my guess, that these kids don’t either. And, let’s face it, you don’t need ‘things’ to be a really bright kid. And, each and every child in that classroom was an absolute gem.

Thijs and Linda are back at the school next week to run through the next module, I have a feeling that the atmosphere may be slightly more subdued since the lessons are sans Apple. However, I’m sure the content will keep them mesmerized. If you want to learn more about Thijs and Linda’s techniques, please contact them through twitter or through their website Although their program is in Dutch, I’m sure they’d be thrilled to roll it out in English for you.

Many, many thanks go to Anne-Marie de Jeu, the Manager of Fair Chance Foundation. What a project manager!  Due to her total professionalism, Impact Day 2011 was an enormous success again this year. Thank you!

Speeding through life with Social Media

The year I was born, the world was a different place. There was no Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook or Linked-in. Let’s face it, computers weren’t even being used and we’re not even talking about the dark ages.

The top selling movie was Mary Poppins. Remember, that was before VHS or DVDs. People were watching movies in the cinema, and not downloading them online. Imagine the packed seats, the laughter and the excitement. And, all of that without 3D computer effects.

Books were still popularly read on paper, not on digital devices. Trees were felled to get the word out. The technology available today would have blown our minds. Do you know what was invented in the year I was born? The Solid-state Electronic Calculator.

I share my birthyear with people like Russell Crowe, Nicolas Cage, Sandra Bullock and Tim Owen. With Sandra on the list, somehow I feel in good company.

It’s 2011 and the world is a different place, but no less exciting. I love the idea that I can keep in contact with my family, friends, acquaintances and total strangers online.

On July 21st I made a pact with myself on Twitter. I love listening to dance music and the louder, the better. But, that’s only part of my problem. The real problem is that when I listen to loud music, I tend to drive too fast. Not fast enough to be reckless. But, just fast enough to get little traffic fines of 10 – 50 euros a pop. Amounts that I can pay with ease, so I don’t seem to learn my lesson. The pact with myself is that from now on, any time I get a traffic fine, I pay the fine and, I also pay the same amount to a charity. In this way, at least if I don’t learn to drive slower, I feel I’m doing something good.

In the past month, two charities that I heard about via Twitter, have been the lucky beneficiaries of my small donations. Jana Sanchez is running a 15km marathon this month to raise funds for the Stroke Association. Check out Jana’s fund-raising initiative on Just Giving. Heather Taylor is raising money for those who have lost everything in the recent riots in the UK, to cleanup, rebuild and look to the future of the communities she lives in and loves. Check out Heather’s #riotremedy activities on Just Giving. Remember, a little donation goes a long way.

I had fun growing up, watching movies in cinema’s, chatting on our family telephone with my girlfriends and pumping up the volume of pop music on the radio. Nothing really changes. I don’t know whether I’ll ever grow up and stop listening to loud music, so, I guess I’ll continue speeding through life. The only difference is, is that social media now helps me find worthy causes to support.

Check out what happened in your birthyear