A South African native now working as a Team Leader at Kaospilot, William is responsible for designing and planning learning processes, leading the learning space in terms of creating the red thread, and guiding and supporting the students – individually as well as collectively.

He is now about to lead 36 students from the Danish Kaospilots, and 11 students from our sister-school in Bern, Switzerland, on the legendary Outpost.


KP: You are about to lead 46 students on the legendary KP outpost- how do you feel?


W: Very excited and … I can tell you I have a spinning head with thousands of details and plans.. it takes a lot to get everything organized and ready. But I have faith we will succeed. However I do feel like we are running out of time, suddenly times goes by very fast.


KP: As a Team Leader Could you explain what the Outpost is?


W: Its the fourth semester of the three year education, its 20 weeks of living and working abroad with the purpose that the students get to experiment with their current tools, methods and theories -and practice all of it in a new environment.  We want to take them away from the familiar and put them into the unfamiliar and then test their ability to apply and obtain knowledge and skills. This year we are going to Cape Town and we are going to work with the locals – we are going to learn with them, we are NOT going to teach them or help them. We are going with the intention of creating value and positive impact.


One might say we go with an empathic ear- to listen to what is called for and to ask great questions in order for us to get to actual need. Often its asking a question that surprises people, a question they weren’t expecting, that generates new outcomes.


KP: Why Cape Town?


W: Well that’s a good question… it’s a complex city – on many levels; socially, culturally, politically and economically – it’s a very fertile platform for learning.


KP: Could you tell us a little bit about the history and the scope of the outpost-it appears to be an important element in the self-understanding of the school?


W: It started 16 years ago, so it didn’t originate with the beginning of the school, it came along a little later in 1996. It started with the students going to San Francisco – the purpose of which was to leave the comfort of the school and thus challenge themselves. Back then it was a lot less structured than it is today, people were literally dropped off in the middle of nowhere and told to meet up later at a specific place. Since then we have been to Havanna, Durban, Bogota, Vancouver and Shanghai.


KP: Could you explain the set-up; is there a specific theme? What kind of projects will the students work with and how do they choose them?


W: Every outpost has a theme, this years its fiber to fabric; this metaphor or analogy is about taking the different fibers of society, that have different characteristics or traits and when you knit them together they create a new fabric even more valuable…  apartheid caused a lot of fractures between the fibers, i.e. the races, of South Africa. We wish to create something bigger the sum of its parts.


From previous projects we have learned that the complexity of understanding different cultures can be a lot more challenging then we expect. The beauty of the Outpost is that we navigate with what emerges and in the unknown…  basically we are piloting kaos.


KP: What is it that you want the students to gain by experiencing the outpost? Personally as well as educationally


W: The openness to understanding different perspectives… to become aware of what you take for granted in your own context. To fully emerge themselves in their new context – by which I mean, get to know the society in all its facets and complexity. I inspire them to reflect and to crave a deeper understanding, I hope.


But speaking in terms of the curriculum, we want them to use existing tools, the competencies from the 4 disciplines and to develop new competencies.


KP: How does the students react?


W: Its deeply personally to be thrown into the unknown and that connects to what we call personal leadership … the weather is usually a pleasant surprise.  However the biggest realization is often when they realise what the taken for granted concept of freedom really means, and the different definitions of freedoms that exist.

Some struggle with giving up personal freedom, because they are part of a team and they are also expected to become more aware of their surroundings..


The students usually arrive with great expectations of adventure, hard work, openness to learning and a keen sense of curiosity and probably a fair amount of assumptions. The change that occurs happens through interaction with local clients, participation in local events, and by actively becoming part of life in Cape Town. They are not tourists viewing from the window- they become part of daily life.


KP: Can you tell us about the clients?


W: The projects that we work on are offered to us by real clients and this year they are focused on urban farming, African economy, new education i.e. new methods of learning and design.


The theme project this year is called “Open Tables”, which means to share stories. The students create a project-based organization so the format is not a team  but an organization, the aim of which is to successfully execute 9 projects for external clients and 11 internal projects about the organization all in 8 weeks. Each student is expected to do a minimum of 3 external projects.


KP: In your opinion -and as a very experienced teacher- what is it that distinguishes the KaosPilot schools from other education?


W: The biggest difference is the focus on the individual – the students are becoming aware of who they are, also in relation to others, and in the context of the Kaospilot culture.

The Kaospilot culture is people-focused; it doesn’t subscribe to big abstract mission statements.

There are three pillars on which the education rests; which refers to the head, the heart and the hand.  Head meaning to think or contemplate, the hand meaning you do action or take action and the heart meaning you feel, you become aware – you love!

We trust in students’ abilities and in practice we get them a key to the school the very first day they arrive and they have 24 hours access, they don’t get student cards but business cards, which immediately invites them into the culture.


KP: And why should young people apply -what are you as teachers looking for?


W: They should apply if they are unwilling to accept the status quo..  we address education in a broader sense …we address learning and thus the possibility of growing and changing. There is an expectation of growth personally and professionally. You could say it’s a high expectation. It’s a school that demands a lot from the head, hand and heart.

As Martin Luther King Jr. Said; “Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” – I believe this quote characterizes us  -and what we aim for very well.