Life Learning - Learning Begins As A Chore, For A Lucky Few It Becomes A Pleasure

We are accustomed to the traditional approach to education as a part of our natural, yet human-planned evolution from being children to becoming adults.

Don't Rest On Your Laurels

Primary, high school and higher education teach young people the skills they will need in their future professional and social lives with different degrees of success, depending on individual predispositions, abilities and even social surroundings, backgrounds and influences.

Sadly, many people decide to “rest on their laurels” after obtaining their degree or diploma. They simply stop investing time and effort in developing their skills or even training their brains at all. Some people get stuck in a rut of their boring or unfulfilling jobs that they hate, not having the skills or guts to make a change.

Stimulate Your Brain

Like any other muscle in the human body, our brain needs stimulation and exercise to serve us well through our lives. Many believe in an old saying claiming that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks, but with the human brain being such a powerful instrument, anything is possible!

Education can come in a bunch of forms that you may not have considered, so we have taken it upon ourselves to enlighten you! ;)  

Street Smarts Count Too

Most people only think that an education can be earned in a university. Nothing could be further from the truth. Others may say that street smarts counts for something. Some of the best experiences in life arise from the “school of hard knocks”. There are ways to find the middle ground here too.

The majority of our friends feel that they’ve learned the most after graduating! For the naturally curious, there are so many mysteries to uncover. If you like developing yourself into a better person, then education is a life-long pursuit. If you think that getting educated only has to do with hitting the books, think again. Some of the best ways to learn involve “hands-on” training or experience-based activities.

Before we examine the numerous options for study in the Netherlands, here is a quick list of the methods of study that are available:

Lectures, Schools, “Hand’s On” Training

The traditional methods of learning are still popular with good reason; by interacting with a teacher and/or students in a classroom setting it is often easier to learn.

Self Study, “LOI”, “NTI”, “NHA”, etc…

There are plenty of options for people who prefer studying at their own pace from home. There are literally thousands of disciplines that are covered. You can sign up, pay a fee and receive a curriculum to follow, complete with exams!

DVD’s and Computer Tutorials

There are lots of topics you can choose to learn about via the computer or television. Make sure you research the feedback and testimonials that have been publicized about the various programmes you have interest in buying. It is important to know if you have the discipline necessary to stay focused and learn new skills before you set about investing your hard earned cash.


So, as you have read, there doesn’t have to be the stereotypical “hitting the books” these days. You can have a great time educating yourself in some exciting and challenging new ways. Consider some of the options:


Physical activities

Sports Courses

For basics like football or jogging, most people just walk outside and give it a go. More complicated sports like skiing need some formal instruction. For dangerous sports like rock climbing, training is mandatory. Even if you have natural talent, being instructed in sports ALWAYS helps. It is easy to get sport instruction for specialized things like sailing, skiing/snowboarding, waterskiing/wakeboarding and so on... you just need to know where to look. Contact Mirjam Verbeek for private climbing classes in Amsterdam.

Dancing Classes

There are more than 100 different dance classes inside the ring. With choices from Tango and Salsa, to the Waltz or Break Dancing, there is a choice for you here. Check out Buenos Aires Tango for details on classes and workshops.

Horse Riding

With hundreds of kilometres of riding trails and even the oldest manger in a city centre* there are plenty of opportunities to learn. Visit De Amsterdamse Manege for riding lessons in the Amsterdamse Bos.


Self-Improvement / Personal development

Cooking Classes

Bored of having frozen pizza and pre-packaged supermarket food every week? Do you want to bake your man a Valentine’s Day cake or finally impress your mother-in-law with a home cooked meal? How about proving to your neighbour that you can also surprise everyone with a fancy sushi party? Visit Sugarlicious for more info about cupcake-making.

Maybe you would like to learn about some less popular diets that your health could benefit from; you feel you need to lose weight but don’t know how to change your eating habits and would like to find a support group? Try some classes raw food workshops at Lekkerraw or the Alchemist Garden.

Whether you just don’t know how to cook because you never had time to learn (hard-boiled eggs are your specialty) or you want to add a few dishes to your repertoire (maybe learn to cook a low-fat version of your favourite dishes) or perhaps you have ambitions to learn how to make some more special dishes like dim-sum or a specific type of cuisine like Italian or Moroccan… Amsterdam has plenty to offer!

From basic cooking classes for kids or adults, to vegetarian or vegan cooking workshops and sushi rolling courses, there is plenty to choose from.

InLivin’ has found the greatest selection of places that will help you deepen your culinary knowledge, no matter what your goal is. Sign up yourself, bring your friends or kids, and start a new culinary adventure! Visit our Food & Drink or Education section for more info, or simply search for 'workshops' in the top right search.


A great way to develop your skills is in your leisure time; those of us lucky to have a backyard, roof terrace or balcony where plants can thrive should be interested in learning about some simple growing techniques. The rewards are numerous; it can be stress-reducing and fun to enjoy the fruits (and veg!) of your labour.


It may be very helpful to learn more about computers, software, home improvement or mechanics. The market is filled with self-help courses.

Personal Finance

In a tighter economy, there is no room for mistakes or being careless with your money. Bookkeeping, budgeting, retirement, investments can be improved by learning from an experienced guide or teacher.


Therapy / Self-help


Is substance abuse a problem for you or someone you care about? Is it increasingly difficult to communicate with your spouse or teen child? If you are feeling angry or depressed then learning about human psychology can help you gain perspective. By working through these problems it is easier to achieve peace and happiness.


Like addictions, there are many things that can start to dominate your life. If you find yourself eating two bags for frites and wanting more, then you should recognize a problem. If you can’t stand touching that tram door without washing your hands five times, then you need to look deeper…

Phobias / Fears

Nearly every person on the planet has a fear of something. It is no surprise in a country as flat as the Netherlands, a fear of heights [NL: hoogtevrees] is the number one fear!*

Stress management

Learning to manage stress and anxiety can be one of the most rewarding lessons a person can learn. Not only will it make your everyday life more manageable but it may even add to your life. Try to reduce stress in your life by learning how to wisely divide time between your professional and private life with OFA Adviesbureau voor Dagindeling.


Career pursuits

Setting the path

Young people must choose a career path when they are in their early teens, often having no clue on what they are good at, without the correct guidance or without having any specific interests or clear talents. For most people, it can take more time and life experience to decide what they like. Skills that may be useful often remain esoteric until it is too late and a path has already been chosen. Or is it too late?

There are many reasons to continue education: To stay up to date in a professional field (sometimes mandatory to maintain a license). To add to existing skill sets in order to get promoted to higher positions or completely prequalifying to another position or profession. To learn a new profession.


Levelling up. Reaching accreditation. Certifications like becoming Yoga Instructor or a Reiki Practitioner.


Job skills are not the only forms of knowledge you can obtain by educating yourself! There are many schools and courses that can educate you in practically any field; in traditional schools or online through tutorials or programs. You may want to educate yourself to get a new degree or certificate, or simply attend courses for your own satisfaction.

Perhaps your company could benefit from teaching your employees some new skills – many educators will offer their services at the location of your choice and you can easily write off those costs! Very professionally fulfilled individuals may feel they are lacking in other skills, such as sports, crafts or activities that would help them relax after a hard week of work, making them even more productive in their professional lives. Many offers are tailor-made to suit the needs of companies, and could be a great addition to your employees’ employment package.


Cultural interests


In Amsterdam you can hear a hundred languages spoken in one day! Why not try to learn just one, even if it is a computer “language” or otherwise; it is surprising how many doors are opened. Visit Molinos de Viento for Spanish classes in Amsterdam.

Arts & Crafts

You don’t have to look around much to know this is a city of art! It is easy to get involved; you can learn from one of the many talented instructors that make their homes here or you can buy a DVD tutorial. Aside from actually learning to paint or draw, you can also learn the history of art. Check out what the museums have to offer; they are always accepting volunteers. Check out Color Me Mine for arts & crafts classes for kids and adults.


Take up an instrument. It can be very relaxing (for people who are playing, at least!) Around town there are several music stores and instrument specialists. They are often a good place to find a quality instructor. For individual music classes, get in touch with Pegasus School For Early Music.


Parenting & family life

New Parents 

Major life-changing experiences like pregnancy, breastfeeding and parenting open up a whole new world for educating yourself. From nutrition and cooking to physical development and parenting techniques, there is much to learn. Young parents that have just discovered that their newborn child has an allergy or a medical condition must learn as much as possible about the problem. To find assistance with pregnancy and birth, visit doula Catharina Ooijens. For personal assistance on breastfeeding, check the Borstvoedingcentrum.


Maybe you’ve made it past the early days of parenting and are now having troubles with your kids during their “terrible teens”! Learning how to deal with the changes in your own family can be well worth the trouble.

Senior Citizens

A retired person who suddenly has too much time on their hands and may feel less useful or lonely may decide to learn a craft, volunteer for a good cause or meet people with similar interests, helping themselves maintain a quality lifestyle.


In Sickness and in Health


Life itself may create situations that make you change suddenly or radically. It can force you to learn about things you never even previously considered.
A medical condition that affects a loved one can motivate you to learn how to help them and force you to learn how to operate simple medical equipment or master CPR skills. Common yet devastating diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s may encourage family members to learn how to care for these sicknesses that makes a family member suffer. Contact a reliable and progressive Amsterdam GP [huisarts] like Huisartsenpraktijk Keizersgracht to search for the best treatment.

Twists of fate

A devastating accident may leave one blind, deaf or paralyzed; forcing one to learn new skills and find new ways of communication. Learning Braille, sign language or rehabilitating your body with physiotherapy are all ways of educating your mind and body to obtain a higher quality of life, or learning to live with life’s new circumstance. Education empowers people.


So, What Have We Learned?


It seems like every stage of life, or unexpected situation reveals new facets for educating yourself. You can either choose to go with the flow and simply accept what life throws at you, or you can get more involved and consciously educate yourself to make the best choices. With the vastness of the internet and countless courses on offer locally, we are always able to find ways to educate ourselves, no matter what our needs are.

A wise old man once said that knowledge is the best thing you can have in life. All material things can be taken away from you, but not your life experience and what is in your mind. You are never too old or too experienced to learn. So go out there, sign up for guitar lessons, learn to drive, rock climb, sew or even speak Italian. Become a yoga teacher, a dog trainer or the best sushi-roller! Learn how to make your surroundings “greener” and more sustainable. It is all up to you! InLivin’ has dedicated a whole Education section to helping you find the best places, offers, companies and individuals that will help you educate yourself.