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Passion-Based Learning

Passion-Based Learning

Photographer:Fotograaf: Joey Roberts/Simone Golob

Jonathan van Tilburg inspired by Ken Robinson

Jonathan van Tilburg, senior lecturer at Human Biology and Movement Sciences feels that everyone should see the TED talks by Sir Ken Robinson, emeritus professor of Didactics at the University of Warwick. “I can’t imagine anyone not getting inspired.”

In the TED talks – there are three, the first has been watched more than 36 million times – Robinson shares his vision on education. “The way he does so, the way he words it, is really beautiful. It really touches me,” says Van Tilburg. “Robinson believes that the type of education that we have now, destroys the creative part in people. He promotes non-conformist thinking. Everyone can do it, we are born with it, but it disappears because of the education system. If you ask a child of four what you can do with a paperclip, you get all kinds of answers. If you ask an adult he/she will say: it is a paperclip. Done.”

That is a result, according to Robinson, of the way schoolchildren learn. “We say that there is one answer to a question. While there are several ways to ask a question and therefore many ways to answer it. I notice it in first-year students. As their teacher, I try to inspire them. I tell them that they can find knowledge everywhere, from all books. Okay, but what is the standard book, they then ask. There isn’t one. But that is the way they have been conditioned. Education is very much geared towards exams, so they want to know what they should learn.”

Van Tilburg feels that the whole education system should be given an overhaul. “From pre-school upwards.” Together with colleagues, he has already started to adapt the bachelor’s programme of Biomedical Sciences. “We don’t only want to look at what students know, but also how competent they are in other areas of Problem-Based Learning such as chairmanship, giving presentations, et cetera. Maybe some of them discover that they can easily make science accessible. Robinson believes that education should be aimed at discovering passions. That is when you get the most out of people. That is what we are trying to do here. Passion-Based instead of Problem-Based Learning.”

Van Tilburg doesn’t just admire Robinson’s vision, but also his qualities as a speaker. “He is enthusiastic, driven, brings anything and everything into the mix. I wish I could give lectures as well as he does.” He has never seen him speak in real life. “Unfortunately not, I would love to meet him. If he comes to the Netherlands, I will go and see him.”

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