Wessel is advisor educational innovation at Kennisland. As an anthropologist, he enjoys connecting different perspectives and worlds, and strongly believes in the power of dialogue. Wessel focuses in particular on the development and well-being of ++Children and young peopleA benchmark in our approach is the living environment and perspective of young people and not the ‘system world’ of policy makers, test designers and method manufacturers. Read here how Kennisland sees society as the ultimate learning environment.. How can the systems that have been set up for this purpose connect even better with each other and with children and youth themselves? How can we build a culture in which learning by doing is the starting point?
At Kennisland, Wessel is involved in the Albeda Innovation Lab, Broedplaats Hoorn and the Hong Kong Education Pioneers. In these projects, pioneering professionals work together on social innovation within their own organisation or sector. As a facilitator Wessel empowers these changemakers to celebrate diversity as a strength and embrace complexity in order to keep moving along with changing needs in society.
Wessel studied Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology at the UvA, followed by a master’s in International Development Studies. For his thesis he spoke to residents of slums in Bangalore, India, about their lives, needs and dreams. He became fascinated by the discrepancy between the good intentions of urban planners and the perception of slum residents. The latter quickly exchanged their newly allocated, beautiful, new apartments for another slum. The new neighbourhoods were not at all in line with the need for low-threshold social contact, self-determination and solidarity. Essential if you live from day to day. A poignant example of how a solution can completely miss the point when the people concerned are not involved in the design process. This happens justWessel is always looking for the right balance between thinking and doing, head and heart, and a human dimension in systems. as well in the Netherlands as in so-called developing countries.
In the Netherlands, Wessel followed a traineeship in human-centered design via Kickstart Your Social Impact, worked at Critical Mass as a trainer at secondary schools to facilitate dialogues about social safety, and facilitated co-creation sessions with children from underprivileged neighbourhoods in Amsterdam for Stichting Move. He eventually landed at the Number 5 Foundation, where he was able to develop himself as an all-round facilitator of participatory projects. He facilitated co-creation sessions on numerous social issues, especially related to children and youth. One such project focussed on the wicked problem of ‘thuiszitters’, the 15,000 children and youth in the Netherlands who cannot find a fitting school and end up staying at home without an education. By building a platform for the voice of this largely invisible group many valuable insights for a more inclusive education system emerged.
As the son of a pastor and a historian, Wessel is always looking for the right balance between thinking and doing, head and heart, and a human dimension in systems. In his spare time he loves climbing, struggles with his book-collecting addiction and is an avid amateur chef.