For students I am usually the last resort, the final chance to get their study (back) on track. It often concerns young adults who have “extra bagage”. They have a disability, diagnosis, sickness, trauma or some factor that has a significant impact on their study activities. But they all share the common desire to get things “back on track”. With this desire they come to me. As the last chance, my coaching either has succes or they will most likely have to leave the university. For this reason the students tend to be very open and honest about themselves. They give me access to how they really experience their study in general and themselves as students in particular. And so I believe that, thru the years, I have gotten a very good idea of thet factors that help and hinder them in their learning process.
I’ve become fascinated by the tenacity of certain, seemingly simple, learning problems. By this I’m not referring to the “classical” learning problems like people with dyslexia, autism or mental limitations can experience. I don’t consider these “afflications” to be learning problems at all for the simple reason that they cannot be “learned away”. The limitations connected to the affliction remain whatever we do.
The learning problem lies in how we cope with our limitations. These are problems we all face independent of background, social status or giftedness. They have to do with our fears, frustrations and doubts that hinder us when confronted with difficult choices, annoying assignments and unexpected setbacks. How we cope with these situations is the field in which I operate.
Standard educational theories helped me too little in coaching students with tenacious learning problems that were aggravated by frustrations and fears. I was perplexed by the fact that I could help some students but others, with seemingly identical problems, I could not. I have spent years trying to understand this because it touches the core of my work. As a result I have developed a view of learning, teaching and coaching by analysing my work with students. I have sought theoretical explanations for my experiences and tested them in the field. In 2009 I put my ideas in a book (Studieproblemen). Since then I regularly write essays about my endeavours and insights in my Blog.
The past years my activities have evolved in two specific ways that have led me to develope my ideas further. In the first place more and more “special” cases are sent to me at the university. These are students, for example, with dyslexia, autism and AD(H)D. In the second place I’ve expanded my workfield to giving lectures, workshops and courses to teachers and other professionals at educational institutions outside the RU. Think of middle- and highschools, colleges and universities and so on. (see Portfolio)
My ideas have been tested to the limits in both places. It was a challenge to see if my methods would hold with students with specials needs as well as with other experienced professionals who have seen it all and are not interested in a beautiful theory but in workable and effective methods in their dialy struggles with students. My experiences have been very positive and so I feel confident that my ideas are valid and methods usable.
Since 2011 I have reduced my activities at the RU to offer my expertise to educational institutions outside the university.