Category Archives: This blog

This blog in 2018

The end of the year is here, a great moment to look back with two top 5’s.

These are the posts written in 2018 that were read the most:

  1. Double meta-analysis on Growth Mindset: how big are the effects really?
  2. Great video on Tuesday: Alternative Math (did I mention that it it is a great video?
  3.  A small review of the new book by Andreas Schleicher: World Class
  4. Are most classic theories on education fundamentally flawed? Meet the Puer Educatione
  5. A new study on learning styles and guess what?

The second top 5 are older posts that were read the most the post year, with the number one still being read over 7000 times!

  1. Science myths: did Einstein fail his fourth grade math class?
  2. Famous psychology study ‘killed by replication’: does a pencil in your mouth make you feel happy?
  3. Devil’s advocate. A plea against Prince Ea (Casper Hulshof)
  4. So you want to compare educational systems from different countries? Where to start?
  5. What are the differences between TIMSS and PISA?

What to expect for next year? More posts, more research and… more books! The Ingredients for Great Teaching is still forcing me to travel the world, but in February the Dutch version of the second installment of our Urban Myths book will be published, with the English version due to be published world wide near the end of 2019!

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Out of office

Dear readers,

tomorrow I’m flying to DC to be part of the CTTL-academy and after that – finally – some time off.

This means I will try no to blog for 2 weeks. The past has thought me that this will be difficult, but who knows. Maybe I’l succeed this time.

In the meantime, do check what I did last year in when I tied to forget education for a while. Check our album on Spotify or check the live video of the openings track of Edward:


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This was my 2017 in 4 tweets and a bit more

2017 was a special year for a lot of people. I know that there are lot of reasons to have mixed feelings. I do have to admit that for me it has been a year filled with incredible stuff. I want to summarize my year in a couple of tweets, but the best news I received wasn’t tweeted.

This is the second best thing that happened to me this year:

Yes, I became a Dr. June 9th, but the months before my PhD-defense my grandmother who in part raised me, was diagnosed with cancer – again –  and it was very uncertain if my grandmother could be present at my defense – or even worse. But my grandparents were able to attend and a few months ago the best news of 2017 came: the chemo had worked even better than the doctors had expected and my grandmother survived the cancer.

After these numbers 1 and 2, the next tweets tell 2 stories that shook my little world:

But there was much, much more. I’ve got the chance to meet great people in the UK, Sweden, the USA, Scandinavia,… I learned so much and still was able to spent a lot of time with my family.

2018 sounds promising… In January I’m starting with a new research project at the University of Leiden. I’ll also be visiting among other places: Haninge, Wellington, Pretoria, Toronto, DC and my solo debut will be published in English in March. Oh, and there will also be a new album by my band – I know, this sounds the least important thing on the list, but trust me: it isn’t.

I want to wish you all happy holidays and looking forward to meet you all on the road in 2018!


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Post 2000 on The Economy Of Meaning!

Wow, this is it: post 2000 on The Economy Of Meaning.

This means:

  • 188 Funny on Sundays,
  • Over 400.000 views,
  • A still growing amount of daily visitors,
  • international translations of our work,
  • and much, much more.

What have been the most popular posts, you ask?

Thank you all very much for visiting this blog so often, to inspire me, to challenge me and to share fun!

It’s a pleasure and an honor!

Cu down the road,


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A personale note on the US today

I have something to admit: I love being in America. I’ve been a couple of times in NY, I drove from Chicago to LA with my wife on our honeymoon with unforgettable detours via Memphis and Nashville. 2 years ago we drove on route 1 with our sons, 10 years after our honeymoon and I’m afraid they’ve fallen in love too.

When I started to think how much the United States have influenced my life, I found out very quickly that there is no end. From the classic movies I watched as a child with my grandfather, the Fender guitars that I use for my own music that is heavily influenced by the blues, jazz and country, heck my overweight is largely due to Coca Cola. Last year I was so honored to be able to have a first talk in DC, and you can’t imagine the big honor it was to be published by an American publisher and to have an article published in American Educator. I still have to make it in NY, because you if you can make it there… But it all goes much deeper. The first time I visited Ellis Island, the first I did check were the immigration-records for the brothers of my great grandfather Herman and my dear great uncle Clement who left Flanders to live in Detroit. They were a couple of the many, many immigrants leaving on the Red Star Line.

My wife knows that when my head is getting overcrowded, I only long for one thing: a wide open road, somewhere between the two coasts.

Now I don’t want to tell stupid things about politics and how wrong they are. Who am I to tell a country something? I don’t want to make comparisons as many do with the Thirties, it only reminds us how many mistakes we’ve made in Europe too.

The only thing I want to share, is this: damned, many news stories I read and hear today hurt.

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2016 and The Economy Of Meaning

The end of a year is always a great moment to look back at what were the most popular 2016-posts on this blog:

  1. Second funny on Sunday because too funny: a science paper written by Donald J Trump (no comment)
  2.  Devil’s advocate. A plea against Prince Ea (Casper Hulshof)
  3. Gartner’s hype cycle for education 2016
  4. Howard Gardner on his ‘multiple intelligences’: the theory is no longer current!
  5. Famous psychology study ‘killed by replication’: does a pencil in your mouth make you feel happy?
  6. Why the Myers-Briggs test is totally meaningless (video)
  7. Maybe the most relevant Figure from PISA, imho

But there are also classics, posts from before 2016 that remain very popular:

And what to expect for 2017? Many more blog posts, a Swedish translation and Chinese translation of our book, and hopefully a lot of nice people to meet along the road! Have a great New Year, dear readers and friends!

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Just an idea for Microsoft: put a factcheck-button on LinkedIn

The past 2 years I’ve seen a steady rise of people using LinkedIn. I receive daily invites to connect and I also noticed that a lot of people visit this blog via this social media platform. In my experience LinkedIn is the more serious, older brother in the social media landscape. This is of course because the clear focus on professional connections.

At the same time people want to look smart and sharp because of this function, so more and more people start to share stuff. And that’s where things can become a bit nasty. The past months I was dragged into several LinkedIn-discussions because people where sharing again that +*%666*% learning pyramid.

Maybe it could be an idea – now that Microsoft bought LinkedIn – to introduce a factcheck-button answering the question: ‘is this claim or advice correct’.

But while waiting for this button, if you see somebody mentioning that pyramid, the 70-20-10-rule or learning styles on LinkedIn, tell them to get their story checked and feel free to share these links (or to tell them to buy our book 🙂 ):


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2 days ago… #Brussels

I returned from the fabulous ResearchED Scandinavia in Gothenburg. I landed in Zaventem, run for my car to see my loved ones asap. Today I see the images of the place were I come so very often. Scattered, ruined with lots of people in pain, many people killed. It’s a stupid thing to say, but we all knew that it wasn’t a question if an attack would come, the questions were when and where.

Now we know.

I’m at home because our institute asked – due to a question of our government – not to come to our school. So, while I wanted to discuss what’s happening with my students, I’m at work at home. We received a mail from the school of our kids, that they will inform our sons about what has happened. They will have many questions and I know that it will difficult to convince them in a few weeks tile to go to Zaventem to take a plane for a holiday together.

And what’s next?

Well, I don’t know.

I’m afraid this will have a long impact on our lives. Just like 9/11 and all those iconic dates that followed.

I’ve seen it in concert halls after the Bataclan, the mood has changed.

But we still need to go to concerts, we still need to have fun, we still need to show our kids that the world can be a great place.

It’s therefor also hearth warming to see how much solidarity there is at this dark moment in our little country by the Canal.

Btw, hope to see you all soon here, we still have the surrealism, the great good, beer and chocolates.

(image found via this tweet)

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My keynote at #MandL16: Media, learning and Urban Myths

This is the keynote I gave at the Media & Learning conference, Brussels, March 11th, 2016.
Parts were based on our book ‘Urban Myths about Learning and Education”, by myself, Paul Kirschner & Casper Hulshof

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A bit of a different post: let’s talk about Belgium for a minute

I’ve been blogging for quite a while in a sometimes very personal version of English. If I look at my visitor stats, a lot of people visit this blog from throughout the world. I’m living in Belgium and we have been receiving some bad press lately. Now, it’s not typical for someone coming from Belgium to be chauvinistic. I always say jokingly that it’s no surprise that Magritte – master of surrealism – lived here.

Do we have issues? Of course, show me a country who doesn’t. I could list up a lot of things that need some action but while we have seen a lockdown because of the terrifying things that happened in Paris, we all still live in a great country:

  • with the best national football team in the world according to FIFA (and no, we didn’t bribe them)
  • we definitely have the best beer and chocolate
  • we have one of the best health care systems in the world

The first time that I guided foreign students – I remember they came from Canada – through the city of Ghent, I fell in love with this city because of the reactions of those students. They asked me if I felt privileged to be able to walk through history on a daily basis. I admitted that I didn’t noticed it. Now I feel privileged. Not only when I visit Ghent, but also when I’m in Brussels – no mr Trump, not a hell hole – for work or another great concert.

Since that day many students and colleagues followed. They do mention that we’re not the most easy people to connect with. We’re a bit reserved, some say even a bit shy. But they all agree we have great food and that when you take your time to get to now us you’ll see we still have a great sense of humor. Remember the cats?

And now back to business, the next post will be again about education and learning, trust me!


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