THNK School: MineCraft for Grown Ups.

What is THNK ? It’s a new postgraduate program in Amsterdam, called the School for Creative Leadership. It’s a school with an ambitious mission: to positively impact society at scale.

And Minecraft ? Minecraft is a sandbox game about placing blocks to build anything you can imagine. If you haven’t come across it yet you probably will soon via an 11-year-old in your network. It’s like Lego 2.0

So back to THNK, I have just finished my second, 10 day long, on-campus module, at THNK with a feeling of having been turned inside out, upside down, while on a roller coaster and all in a good way.

Some of the novel moments on this roller coaster included: meeting fab people such as Esther Wojcicki a new role model for me, the fiercely engaged Princess Maxima and the charming Ravi Naidoo; gaining deep insights into my accelerator project during a session of meditation, then hands-on creation; and best of all getting to know the fabulous group of people known as the THNK participants.

A typical day at THNK, if there is such a thing, is a feast for a Learn-o-holic like me. It starts with Andra’s ‘Body and Mind’ lesson, which is kind of like playing with magic, the magic of the invisible field of energy between people and how to influence and change it. After that – and it’s only 9 o’clock – we either work on our challenge project or the Quest team may have some other surprise in store for us. During the Challenge we work on one of two themes: ‘The Future of Education’ or Carbon Reduction using M2M technologies using tools, which are a mash-up of Design thinking and Socratic questioning. In the evening we have a ‘Forum’ where we get to meet wonderful people and question them in-depth.


VIsual concepting by one of the ‘Future of Education’ teams, photo by Jason Hsu

The 10 days were further sprinkled with ‘Quest’ activities, which included amongst others, a number of high energy improv sessions;  making a 1-minute video with another participant on your top three achievements; an active workshop on the art of storytelling and reflecting on your Accelerator Project. Personally I love the Quest parts the best. The total THNK program being largely directed towards facilitating the growth of each participants accelerator project, it is a fabulous platform of playful investigation which perfectly suits the stage I am at.

Not that everything is perfect in the program design, yet, I guess you could say that THNK is in beta, there are some hiccups in the program delivery and design, which we get to chance to give feedback on (or vent on as the case may be) via the daily feedback forms. And that’s something I really appreciate about THNK, the faculty want to learn and improve the program, so open discussion is ongoing.

So what’s this got to do with Minecraft? Well, both THNK and Minecraft have a number of building blocks, some instructions and an ‘Interesting Form of Freedom’ for you to create your own fantasy in. And grown-ups basically don’t play enough (at least this one). At Thnk we get to do this with a group of people who hail from every part of the world, bringing a wealth of cultures, experiences and curiosity with them.  I love for example watching Ellen joyously investigating, or Sharon pondering quietly before sharing her broad wisdom or Gunter throwing sand in the machine. I’ve already worked in Team Holland-Taiwan and Team Dodgy whose motto was ‘If’s it’s not Dodgy it’s not Real’ and had a singsong that would do the Irish proud.

Before this all sounds too cult like, I’ll stop here.
 Check out THNK here.
My next post will probably be on my Accelerator project.

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