A report by Iris van den Boezem

Age of Wonderland
Jan 29, 2018 · 4 min read

Just do it!

Nowadays, society seems to be all about diplomas, about what grades you got at school and about which university you went to. Of course, the quantitative features of these matters makes talking easier when you — say — apply for a job. But what about the knowledge you gain by experience, through Learning by Doing: isn’t that just as important?

Today host Arne Hendriks talks to Daniela Chavarría-Aguilar (designer, Costa Rica), Robert Johnson (designer, finishing his MA Social Design at DAE, The Netherlands), Griet Menschaert (artist and publisher, The Netherlands) Sascha St-Onge Ahmad (Canada/Pakistan) and Sandra Suubi (Uganda). Axel Coumans (student DAE) and Willy Douma (Hivos), also join on stage. The theme they talk about: Learning by Doing.

Opening up: just do it

Gaining knowledge often happens when you’re opening up to others. This is what Costa Rican designer Daniela Chavarría-Aguilar experienced when she explored the Ketelhuisplein audience in Eindhoven, asking the Dutch Design Week visitors about their challenging experiences. “One girl truly touched my heart,” Daniela says, “because she told me about the death of her grandmother and how her life got upside down by that event.” By just listening to the girl’s story, Daniela got to help her process some of the sad emotions haunting her. “For me this was a real eye-opener. I never knew helping someone could be this easy.”

“Designers are creative, so I’m convinced they can help us with these challenges we’re facing.”

Hivos Green Society Programme Officer Willy Douma talked about the open source seed system she helps establish. The project didn’t lift off as easy as she hoped. What to do? She had to come up with a different approach altogether. “As soon as we started the project, we experienced several challenges we didn’t expect before. For instance: it was so difficult to convince the governments of the countries we wanted to reach out to. Farmers and politicians weren’t able to communicate properly at all — they just weren’t used to it.” Recently, Douma got in touch with designers to help her out. “Designers are creative, so I’m convinced they can help us with these challenges we’re facing. But it’s new, I’ve never done this before. Let’s just see what happens!”

“Learning by falling down and picking yourself up again”

Falling down and getting up

Learning by doing is also about showing your weaknesses or vulnerabilities. Learning by falling down and picking yourself up again. In this sense, ironically, designer Robert Johnson, who is having a workshop on improving your storytelling skills, totally ‘fucked up’ his a presentation as a student about ‘Speaking Out Loud’. Not so much fun when it happened, but after a while Robert realised this fuck-up was a big help in his further research. Because he himself had experienced what it was like when you freeze while speaking out load, he could relate to his listeners much easier. Host Arne Hendriks confirms: “Your presentation that day was maybe the worst of the day, but it convinced me. By showing your humanity, I knew that you’re true with what you talked about and that you’re sincere and honest while doing so.”

To ask people what it is that they can learn others is such a personal question, Hivos-trainee and DAE student ‘Man and Food’, Axel concludes. “Your personal experiences and what you can give to others, that’s in everything you do. It’s not only relevant to you as a professional, or to you in private life. It’s an attitude, a way you live. If you ask me, it’s pretty revolutionary to work together in this kind of way.”


This Day of Learning was part of Age of Wonderland’s Daily Talks.
At the core of World Design Event, People’s Pavilion at Eindhoven’s Strijp-S, Age of Wonderland hosted a daily talk show. Each day focused on a specific topic: Activism, Energy, Ecology, Learning by doing, Sense of self, Community, Intimacy, Empathy and Empowerment.

visit www.ageofwonderland.nl to find out more about this program.

100 DAYS OF LEARNING

A journey from knowledge to wisdom — turning lessons into action

Age of Wonderland

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100 DAYS OF LEARNING

A journey from knowledge to wisdom — turning lessons into action

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