Bluff Journal Education Running Free

What Enables People to Do Amazing Things?

May 7, 2015
Click-through to Ivo's TEDxBarcelonaED talk

Click-through to Ivo’s TEDxBarcelonaED talk

Every day we hear about people that do amazing things. But what do all those people have in common? They are people who believed it was possible. Many of us have visions and dreams but we need to have the ability to not be blinded by the obstacles in our path but have confidence to take the appropriate steps in order to turns these visions and dreams into a reality.

In February I had the pleasure of listening to a young man, Ivo Degn, speak about his experiences and visions at TedxBarcelonaEducation. I found his talk uplifting and inspiring and I recently contacted him to find out more…

Ivo Degn has transformed from a lonely and lost young man who struggled to integrate into society, to a confident visionary about to embark on a new and exciting project; starting his own school in Sevilla, Spain. The school is based on the same concepts and principles of the business school Knowmads in Amsterdam, which he attended for a year. His time at Knowmads ultimately proved to be the turning point in his life.

The Next Step

After finishing high school Ivo, like many others, was told that university was the next step on his journey, but he didn’t particularly agree. Ivo felt that university was not the right place for him to discover who he was and who he wanted to be. So he decided to travel. Seeing the world opened his eyes and he gained a whole new perspective. The downside, many of those that accompanied him on his travels were in the same position as he was, lost. He realized he needed guidance.


On a weekend excursion to Amsterdam Ivo stumbled across Knowmads, an innovative business school. The school has no exams, gives no grades, and upon completion there are no diplomas, the staff there believe it is their job is to “enable, facilitate, empower and inspire” their students to become change makers. Ivo decided to enroll in their fulltime one-year program. He believes that traditional schools are inefficient and that students’ lack of motivation often stems from the fact that the school is not catering to their individual needs. But is instead focused on teaching the information contained in textbooks.

At Knowmads, workshops are led by successful business men and women and the faculty aims to ask the students questions that will foster their development. Questions like: What are you dreaming of? What do you need to become this? What do you need to learn in order to create this? Ivo feels that his time at Knowmads has prepared him for whatever challenges the world throws at him. Knowmads emphasizes the importance of interpersonal skills and relationships and Ivo says that student’s feel that they can be honest, real and vulnerable. This was a very stimulating environment for Ivo, one that he hadn’t previously experienced.

After Knowmads

Ivo says that at Knowmads he became himself, he is now able to express his needs and emotions and is capable to take action. He has realized that there are things worth fighting for and that he is willing to make an effort. He now feels like he is part of a community and has gained many new connections. But the change in Ivo didn’t go unnoticed by others. One of the founders of the schools commented that when Ivo first joined the program he was an angry boy, mad at the world and that now he is a grown man that possesses the skills to be successful.

The Future

Ivo wants the children of the future to be educated in free schools where human-centered systems are in place. Where children have the freedom to have a say in what they want to learn. “Too many schools believe they know what’s right for you and think they know who you should be. That approach is too systematic for me.” He also feels it is very important to teach children effective communication skills.

In two years time he hopes to see Knowmads as an open platform that focuses on more than just education. He wants Knowmads, Sevilla to become not only a lighthouse, but also an incubator. He wants to show people that there is hope, and that so many things are possible. He is also interested in agriculture, solar energy and eco-villages. With the platform he plans to make some of his projects a reality together with other hopefuls.

‘There’s a lot of work to do and we can use crazy people to do it. There are lots of ideas but we need hard work.”



Knowmads Lab Sevilla June 2015


For those people unable to attend Knowmads or similar institutions

  1. Get out of the toxic environment you might be in. You need good uplifting energy
  2. Connect with yourself – do that in your own way. Through sports, meditation, art…
  3. Find some guidance, someone that can support you. Maybe that is a mentor, coach, a guru or a psychologist.
  4. Find a place or person that inspires you

Eager for more?

Knowmads Sevilla Knowmads Amsterdam 

You Might Also Like

1 Comment

  • Reply Tea Cup 2 with Duy – Camp Bluff August 4, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    […] man who I had the pleasure of interviewing for Camp Bluff a number of months ago regarding his educational journey, tagged three names in a comment under my #30dayjobhunt post on Facebook. 24hours later I was […]

  • Leave a Reply