Pieterjan van Wijngaarden
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Pieterjan van Wijngaarden

Netherlands, UK

Curiosity drives learning

There have been a number of crucial moments in my learning career. The first of these was during my time as a student, when I was actively involved in the Student Union at the University of Twente. We launched a major international study into the question of how to provide a place in the academic curriculum for student activism (being active as a student, for example in a student board. Fascinated by its contents, I discovered that as a consultant to the executive I could have a great deal of influence. I made the conscious decision at that time not to become a board member, but to remain a project leader in Education. My first experience as a consultant...


Another important moment came during my research into the learning careers of successful, early school-leavers. One of the people I was interviewing burst into tears - my questions obviously unleashed everything. I discovered that being asked questions does something to people. The interview had an almost therapeutic effect.


I experienced another crucial moment during Kessels & Smit working days on Schiermonnikoog. I had organised the days with three colleagues. We wanted to take as much advantage as possible of the Frisian island’s environment. One of the activities started on the beach, from where we were going to wander around the island in small groups. We began the activity with a poem about beach and sea. The conversations in the small groups were about people’s professional direction. It all fell into place and I thought it was wonderful, it was pure beauty. I realised that as a designer I could make this happen.


At the moment I see myself as a designer. I create moments and set up meetings that fuel people’s curiosity. Curiosity drives learning. The creativity in the design process appeals to me, I am affected by beauty and play. I want to learn much from the way that children play. Our work can be nicer and more pleasurable. It’s contagious.