Sometimes it just clicks between people, and a brief meeting can lead to great mutual inspiration.
That has been the case with Marike Lammers – Honours Program Manager at Saxion | University of Applied Sciences in Holland – and Kaospilot’ own Simon Kavanagh. They met each other at a conference in Rotterdam 16 month ago, and the brief encounter has already led to some great results: two new programs facilitated, inspired and challenged by Kaospilot’ educational and experience-based design-process. Saxion University has really shown some commitment.  On both occasions leaders, staff and students were brought all the way from The Netherlands to Aarhus, Denmark by train, plane and automobile. The purpose has been to re-think education, move from research to action, and  co-create new inspiring programs across faculties. On the second occasion we were curious to know why they came back for more…





KP: Hi Marike, please tell us a little bit about where you are from. 

Marike: I’m coming from The Netherlands, Saxon University of applied science.  I am a program Manager for honours and excellence educations at this university.



KP: And now you travelled all the way to Aarhus – why is that?


M: Because we found out that Kaospilot probably have something in your education that we need – we think. That is why I have brought now the second interdisciplinary group – comprised of faculty and students, from all around our university, to learn the KP concept and approach and be inspired. Hopefully it will change our future education.



KP: So you are here for the second time already?


M: I organised this. I asked the people to come because I think this will help us make a change. So I am more the organiser – than a program manager, and this is part of getting the change done.



KP: How did you hear about this course – and the Kaospilot?


M: We met Simon Kavanagh in Rotterdam. I travelled around to conferences in our country and abroad.  Simon was at a particular one, and I heard before that there had been a group of Dutch people just visiting the school in Denmark. They were very enthusiastic about Kaospilot. Then we met him in person and we thought: Why just visit – let’s also do something. He then told us that we could participate in a course that was already running, and I said I wanted to have our own private course. I wanted the entire university to change – I needed more than me to get the idea. I can’t do it alone. That is why we are now here with the second group of 20 people, now in total 40 people who have felt how it is to be in a Kaospilot kind of education.



KP: If you should describe that – what is that special feeling?


M: The difference is that it’s more than knowledge. So also skills and attitude is clear. It is a way of “backwards designing” what you want. That it is not only knowledge is to some of us pretty new and what we learned by doing this is also the reflection part – which feels very “soft” to me because I come from a technical background. But I understand that we do need that to learn. So it’s also for me a big learning step that these “soft” things to me you need to do. I explain to the others that by doing these exercises you find out what doesn’t work, so past failures help you have to learn. It comes very close to people so you need to feel very uncomfortable and then step out of it. I hope these people realise now that working together with very different backgrounds is awfully difficult but also makes you learn much more. So what I like to explain them, and what I hope they will do in the future is: search for the difficulties – the multi-disciplinary setting – and don’t just say it’s too difficult. It’s easier to do it the traditional way but it is much richer to do it this way.  So I hope that is what this group take with them back.



KP: What sort of change do you imagine you will see at your institute after this?


M: I hope it will change that the borders we have between the separate disciplines will be more open. And that we will have nice examples that shows it not only nice for learning but a necessity to work together. We are more organised in specialities, what we try to do is work more in different settings. We want to do both. In the future I hope to see that everyone will do both.



KP: As a final question. What has been the most surprising for you coming here?


M: What has surprised me the most is that when we came back the last time the last group had a common experience which was sometime painful because what happens in the group is sometimes very personal and painful, but they have so much energy. Now there is no “walls” to someone else in another department anymore. They see each other a lot more and they share a common language. It surprised me that on such a short notice that could happen. By going over here – Simon also suggested that he could go to our place – but I thought maybe t would be better to take the trip. So we go to a very basic camping site, which also helps to bring us out of our comfort zone – and really focus on having 2-3 days away – what are we going to do? Then you are really open for it I think. So this is all small tricks – but the surprise is that the tricks really works…



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