My experience in the Belgium education system.
I have a lot of opinions on education and what could be different, but I’m leaving those a side for another article. In this article, I want to share my education path with you.
I want to start in December 2007. I was 9 years old and before this point, I had been in the same school my whole life. I’dd never asked myself any questions about life, if this was the right thing to do if this was my only option,… I think you just assume there is nothing else out there and you just live the life you have to live. I didn’t have a problem with that at all until my parents decided to move.
It wasn’t a big move, only 40km (24 miles), but my life totally changed. I still to this day don’t know why this was so hard for me but it was the hardest thing I have been true in my life. The first year went fine, you try to get used to it, you try to fit in,… But in the second year, things got rough. I started running away from school, biking back to my previous house,… They even had to lock me in the classroom during lunch break. Remember I was 10 years old at this point. I really think this was a wrong move from the school’s side but I don’t want to go into that in this article.
We started looking at other schools. My niece went to the Steiner School in Bruges, They have a very different way to looking at education and they expose you to way more different things than other schools. So after the second year in my new school, I started at the Steiner School. Things went a little better, I had some good friends, started a club called Greenteam BVM ( bescherming van milieu, protection of the environment) and things were good. This is also where I discovered woodworking. (http://www.steinerschoolbrugge.be/)
In Belgium High School starts at 12 years old and you can also decide what direction you want to go at that point. So I decided to change schools again to follow a woodworking course. (http://www.vtibrugge.be/dag/index.html)
It was in the same city, Brugges, so the commute didn’t change much, but the school was very different. The first year went without any problems. Grades were well, life was easy, things were good, but in the second year I started asking questions, something teachers don’t always like, in particular, the “why” questions. But I don’t want to get into that now either.
Long story short, at the end of the second year I was so tired of the slowness of the educational system that I dropped out. The first few months I attended Sudbury, A democratically run school in Ghent. In short, they let you do whatever you want and everyone in the school votes if you are allowed to do that thing or not. I’m very oversimplifying here but check out their website if you are interested. (https://www.sudbury.be/)
And four months in I decided together with my parents to go hardcore homeschooling. I had so many woodworking projects at this point that I had more than enough to do without school. I always had the urge to educate myself in my own downtime anyway on things that actually interested me like: woodworking, which I till this day learned everything about by myself, even the Tiny Houses, Astrology, agriculture, climate change, videography, English,…
This went great! I started homeschooling in January 2014, I had an internship with a carpenter for a few months and had my own projects. In September that year, I decided I did want a High school degree, so I signed in for the CEC, central exams commission, and had my degree 6ish months later. This brings us to April 2015, when I had the chance to go to California for the next 3 months and build a Tiny House. After coming back from that adventure I started University in September 2015. I was there for four months.
Again I don’t want to go into all the reasons I quit University here, I will in a lather article. In January 2016 I started building my own Tiny House and in April I started Tiny House Belgium. I had to wait because you can’t start a company before you are 18 in Belgium. which is also something I will write about later.
Want I want to show you with this article is that the best education is in life and in the experiences you have. there is nothing I learned in school that I’m using today, not saying it’s not useful, just saying there are alternatives. Some also recognize a pattern in this, they say that I can not stick to one thing for longer than 2 years. I’m not saying you’re wrong about that. I’m just someone that’s very conscious of what I do and when I do it. I always think about one question: Is this the best thing I could be doing right now? If that answer is no I have to change something.
Just look at the options that are available in your life and decide for yourself what the best way is for you! Not your parents, not your family, not your friends, for you. And I know they have a lot of life experience and they intend to do the best for you but there are 2 problems with that: one, They grew up in a world that’s radically different then the world we live in now and second: You only live once, Like Gary Vaynerchuk said: Everyone is walking around acting like they are coming back! And Steve Jobs looked in the mirror every morning asking himself if what he was going to do that day would make him happy. If the answer to that question was no for to many days in a row he had to change something.
This is the way I want to live my life! And a quick side note: I have been sticking to my real dreams like New York City, something I have been working on for four years and I don’t see that changing any time soon.