Chide Groenouwe

Chide Groenouwe (left) and Jan Visser (right) meeting at a conference in Strasbourg, France, March 2003.


At elementary school, the teacher said: "1+1= 2". I responded: "why?" I wouldn't learn it before I understood why that was the case.

At secondary school I decided that I wanted to be a "homo universalis", as soon as I came in contact with that term. I didn't understand precisely why people would restrict themselves to particular categories.

I've always learned with devotion and have had a natural interest in the context and origin of the things I learnt. For me, learning is a journey. Just reading a book, or acquiring a skill, can bring you into contact with a borderless and beautiful world of insights and experiences, in which you soon find out that everything is somehow connected. I could never understand why reflective and contextual elements were left out of the course material of many subjects taught at school, and even at university.

I studied mathematics at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, and graduated within the field of mathematical logic (with distinction). While doing so, I followed my own path, and composed my curriculum of subjects from several universities. For me, studying mathematics was never separated from the discovery of life itself, so studying and discovering theorems were also an emotional experience. A central theorem in mathematical logic - Gödel's incompleteness theorem - was an almost spiritual turning point in my thinking about mathematics and intuition in general. Although I was already philosophically convinced of the relativity of science, it "proved" to me that the world cannot be reduced to one way of looking at things, not even from the perspective of one of the most fundamental sciences. Mathematics cannot be founded within itself. Every way of looking at the world, exists in something that is greater than that way of looking itself. But the magic is, that the borders can be discovered within the perspective itself. Most of the time they are hidden and easily overlooked, but if you look closely, you'll find them. From the day I made that discovery, I've been asking myself: when will the perspective, that I'm now living in, break down? When will I find the borders of the way of looking in which there exists a "Chide" and the "world"?

In 2001 I accepted a position as a lecturer in computer technology at a college in Utrecht. One of my main motives was to refine insights in learning processes through real experience, so that I could later apply them in the realization and design of generic environments for learning and creating. Another reason was that I liked to be socially engaged with people, to be in an inspiring environment where people stimulate each other to learn and create the things they want to learn, to enjoy the outcomes, and to refine the process while it is taking place.

The process of being educated and being an educator myself, gave rise to many inspiring and critical questions, e.g.:

I found out that many educational institutions have a strong practical and short-term approach. They are primarily, and sometimes exclusively, focused on keeping things up and running. Subtle dimensions and insights to be discovered when going through a learning or creation process are left unexplored.

To my surprise it has been very difficult to find an institute that is trying to develop insights in learning processes (and environments) from an integral and multi-disciplinary perspective. I saw a world that was fragmented in many respects. This feeling changed when I found the Learning Development Institute, which is developing insights from a perspective that even transcends the notion of multidisciplinarity: transdisciplinarity. This was a new term for me, but an immediate recognition occurred. I decided to attend a symposium in Strasbourg, France, where I met Jan Visser, the director of the institute, for the first time.

My current focus is on the development of reflective self-similar learning communities that are not designed, but grow through an evolutionary process. For this purpose, the organisation Network Universalis ( was founded .