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Rotterdam, 29th of July 2014

"Education of the Heart."

In the third year of my bachelor studies I was asked the question ‘What do you want to learn’ for the first time in the 18 years I had been attending school. I was following a course without a predetermined curriculum, where we as a group of interdisciplinary students were given the task by the board of the university to create a new minor for honour students: one that corresponded with the needs of the student and with the needs of society. This experience formed the beginning of my own learning journey towards meaningful education: education that encompasses all aspects that define us as human beings and that develops a capacity to cope with the complex challenges of our present time. During the last two years this journey has led me to Sweden (Masters Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability), Berlin, Budapest, Denmark and Seattle – and eventually to Rotterdam, as part of a team that organised the ‘Education of the Heart’ symposium on May 12 of this year.

The foundation Bezoek Dalai Lama Nederland organized this day together with the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Almost 600 people from the education sector, the business sector and the government were invited to consider and address the question ‘What kind of education is needed in the Netherlands to create a more compassionate society and sustainable economy?’

Various speakers, amongst them Daniel Siegel (Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain), Ian Gilbert (The Little Book of Thunks), Richard Gerver (Creating Tomorrow’s Schools Today), Marga Hoek (Doing Business in the New Economy) and Rob van Tulder (Skills Sheet) shared their vision of the future of education. Thirteen inspiring examples – schools and independent initiatives – presented their story and best practices on stage, and it was striking to see the significance placed on compassion and interconnection.

During the day there was attention for the capacities of our heart and time to let her speak out, amongst others through the beautiful music of the band Plezant. The presence of the Dalai Lama, who reminded us of the pleasure of learning and who answered the many questions of the audience with wisdom and humour, greatly contributed to this.

Compassion – one of the core qualities of our heart – plays an important role in Education of the Heart. The (further) development of compassion forms an essential part in the transition to a more sustainable society and economy. We are therefore grateful that the Unda Foundation accepted our invitation to bring the Flag of Compassion and attend this symposium and hereby supported the message that education needs a more compassionate and holistic approach.

On behalf of the organization committee,

Maaike Boumans





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