Interview with Chris Sigaloff – Crowdsourcing education: creating room for the unusual suspects

Interview with Chris Sigaloff – Crowdsourcing education: creating room for the unusual suspects


Chris Sigaloff is director at Kennisland, a think tank geared towards promoting social innovation. Besides exploring new themes, developing new methods and interventions, she advises governments and organisations on matters concerning innovation strategies, social innovation and policymaking. She also gives presentations on these subjects in the Netherlands and abroad. Aside from her activities at Kennisland, she is a board member of the Kafka Brigade and the Kriterion Foundation as well as a member of the international network SIX (Social Innovation Exchange). Chris is one of the speakers on the 20th of April so we asked her a few questions.

What does #BorntoLearn mean to you?
Learning is something completely natural. Living and learning are like one. For me, the ability to grow, to learn, is essential. I once asked someone, “Would you rather walk up the stairs or be carried up?” It hadn’t occurred to me that there was a third option: to not go up the stairs at all. This for me is never an option: I always want to go up those stairs, walk up those stairs!

What motivated you to get involved with learning/education?
Innovation is my job. Kennisland is all about innovation. To me, innovation is not a finished product. It is not a goal in itself. However, without it we become extinct. Innovation gives us the tools to deal with the future; to innovate is to learn.
Our world is increasingly complicated and unpredictable, but we can learn how to deal with the changes we encounter. We can learn how to anticipate. This belief has been a recurring theme throughout my career. I used to think it’s all about the subject matter, about what we encounter and about what we learn. But I have come to see that it mostly isn’t about the subject matter. It is about how people deal with that subject matter. Development, learning and innovation make us better-equipped and prepared to deal with the world around us.
Vital herein is how we learn, how we adapt and how we are able to learn from each other. This has always interested me and I will definitely address this in my Talk!

What’s the last thing you’ve learnt?
This isn’t something very recent, but the most important thing I have learnt over recent years is this: it matters where you start innovating, from which logic or perspective you begin. My Talk will focus on the practical implication of this: I have found it truly helps to learn from the outside in.
In the case of education this means that to affect change, you don’t start with policy makers, you start with the “end user”: the students, their parents. Listen to them: what are their wants and needs, their hopes for the future of education? This makes it possible to come up with really new solutions and approaches.

What do you hope to learn on the day of the event?
I hope to acquire three new insights and to meet three new interesting people.

Can you give a one sentence summary of your talk?
Opening up education: Let the outsider in.

Can you share a quote or a person that has inspired you in the field of education?
Ivan Illich was a radical thinker. His book Deschooling Society is a critique on the role of institutionalised education in society, which is still current and relevant today.

“Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful setting. Most people learn best by being “with it,” yet school makes them identify their personal, cognitive growth with elaborate planning and manipulation.” – Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *