Webpage of Jan Claes | Vision

Vision on education

Learning consists of an alternation of acquiring (hearing, seeing) and processing (practising, studying). Learning is optimal with repetition over time and with variation. There is no point in practicing the same things over and over, learning requires deliberate practice, with a focus on gaps. Teaching theory is a crucial part of education, since most people will not create a helicopter view, abstracting from concrete cases and building structure themselves. Making mistakes is also a crucial part of learning. Sufficient and regular sleep and rest ensures the best fixation.

Learning takes place in our memory through a collaboration of, among other things, the working memory, the long-term memory and the hippocampus. Working memory is responsible for the conscious processing of learning material. Knowledge is stored in long-term memory as facts (semantic), skills (procedural), memories (episodic), and habits (attitudes) in the form of cognitive schemas. These schemas are built, expanded, enhanced and/or automated during processing. The better the schemes, the easier the knowledge can be used. Repetition and targeted variation allow for fine tuning. During your sleep, the knowledge will be further optimized and fixed via the hippocampus. In deep sleep the schemas are cleaned up, integrated and restructured, in dream sleep the schemas are supplemented and integrated.

Learning is optimal in a context of motivation and at a level where there is enough challenge, but not too much. Intrinsic motivation takes precedence over extrinsic. After all, extrinsic motivation stands in the way of intrinsic motivation, has only a limited effect, reduces creativity and disrupts the moral compass REF. Motivation is enhanced by (1) autonomy, (2) relatedness, and (3) competence REF. Give students a say (autonomy) and responsibility (competence). Know what you are talking about (competence) and think about how they experience your lessons (relatedness).

Learning requires a good learning climate. This is achieved with clear communication, a lot of patience and a high tolerance for mistakes. Communication is best as short and as little as possible, although repetition can sometimes be desirable. Expectation management helps to avoid disappointment and excuses. Rewarding works better than punishment (eg verbally, with compliments), because it creates a more positive learning climate. For the same reason, preventing problems is also more effective than solving them.

Vision on society

A major problem of our Western society is that deception is not only allowed, but it has become the norm. Deceive customers, deceive suppliers, deceive your boss, deceive your employees, deceive voters, deceive readers and viewers, deceive friends and family. It has become the most natural thing and anyone who still allows themselves to be misled is considered naive. This is wrong. Let's give responsibility to each other and hold each other accountable. Let us take responsibility again and prioritize ethical considerations over financial or power considerations. Giving trust should lead to getting trust and getting trustworthiness back!

A second major problem is liability. Government and insurance have created liability with the illusion of control. In practice, many problems are due to liability, especially forms of waste. Food surpluses from shops and restaurants are wasted. Companies leave lights on when they are not needed. Doctors prescribe useless medication. People cover themselves in the most idiotic ways. A paper reality of unfollowed rules, non-existent procedures, and ineffective controls coexists with the real reality and leads to unprecedented frustrations and problems for all involved.

A third problem is our government. Belgium is one of the richest countries in the world with a high tax burden. Besides a very affordable education and social benefits (for which I am very grateful), I also expect an effective government. Not me, but they have the means to collect objective information and carry out checks when it comes to health, safety, working conditions, or sustainability, to make nuanced and well-considered choices. I don't want to feel guilty about every purchase, when I find out what's supposedly wrong with it. Regulate, raise awareness, control, certify. Independent and scientifically well-founded. Because I get too much conflicting information and I feel like I'm a plaything for media and commerce.

Speaking of education, why do we learn so few crucial things in school? Why don't we learn about insurances, taxes, how sleep and exercise impact our bodies, how to handle money? Or about techniques for breathing, use of voice, concentration, coping with grief, emotional release, and so on?