Jan Visser

Publication Date



The David Kinsey Dialogue Series was established in memory of our beloved colleague, David Chapin Kinsey. David touched countless lives in the course of his 40 years as a dedicated, brilliant and outstanding educator, helping people everywhere to inquire, explore and discover the world and themselves. Since 1975, David Kinsey served as a faculty member of the School of Education in the Center for International Education at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. It is our hope that the Kinsey Dialogue series will uphold his legacy, keeping alive his passionate vision for a better world.


I am going to use the opportunity presented by the 2001 David Kinsey Lecture to bring together some of the ideas expressed in my recent work, and to reflect on my decades-long experience in creating the conditions for the development of learning in an international context that experience, and my reflections on it, has led me to recognize that learning is an immensely more complex phenomenon than most of our current practice to promote and facilitate it would have us believe. Consequently, I have come to the conclusion that the complex human mind is poorly at home in much of the environment supposedly created to nurture it. Neglect of the essential conditions for its sustenance and growth has led the mind to lose its natural habitat, putting it at risk of becoming extinct. My emphasis will therefor be on what should be done to landscape the learning environment in such a way that the complex mind can find a home in it. I shall develop my ideas and raise questions about this issue, while calling attention to a number of key concepts.




Center for International Education