University of Antwerp  -
Project of Learning Enhancement and Inclusion




 Pedagogy and medicine?



 Contact us



The Project of Learning Enhancement and Inclusion grew out of a PhD research project "You are more than your brain" by Dr. Jo Lebeer. In the late eighties and early nineties, he was involved at the Centre of Health Science of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Antwerp, researching healing processes of children and adults with serious neurological disturbances, having special interest for the "ecology", biography and experiences of people living in a psychological context. Out of intense contact with the "field" and numerous interviews with parents and caregivers of children with disabilities or learning problems, the importance of learning experiences emerged, showing the influence of " a good field" for the child, i.e. how people really interact with the child, without being a victim of deterministic opinions and prejudice about the possibilities of the child; also the importance of how people (child and adults) view themselves (as someone potentially able or someone dis-able). This raised a need to respond to their needs: the need for coaching in the sector of people with learning and developmental difficulties is indeed enormous.

Inspiration was found in various training courses: first the training in "Ecological Health Care" (first at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, later in the Centre for Ecological Health Care at Capelle a/d Ijssel) offered a new vision on health and healing processes linked to inner experience and awareness-development; then the training in Feuerstein's Structural Cognitive Modifiability, Mediated Learning Experience, Instrumental Enrichment and Learning Potential Assessment Device at the International Centre for the Enhancement of Learning Potential in Jerusalem non only brought an advanced vision on learning and development in the context of a person's cultural ecology, but they also offered a hands-on set of instruments to improve prerequisites of learning.

Starting from these training a number of projects have been initiated with diverse target groups who are threatened with social exclusion or who are socially disadvantaged: children and adolescents with learning or developmental disabilities, low-schooled adults, behaviourally disturbed youngsters under probation

return to top



 Professional training in Feuerstein's Structural Cognitive Modifiability, Mediated Learning Experience, Instrumental Enrichment, both at the University of Antwerp and elsewhere, recognised by the International Centre for the Enhancement of Learning Potential in Jerusalem

 In-service training of teachers and educators of children, adolescents and adults with learning difficulties (of all degrees)

  Courses in Mediated Learning Experience for parents of children with learning or developmental difficulties

  Awareness raising activities about "learning enhancement and inclusion"


  Development of didactic materials for teaching learning prerequisites

  Developing trajectories for training educators of children, adolescents and adults with learning difficulties

  Developing training manuals


opsommingsteken Pilotproject inclusive education for including children with developmental difficulties in mainstream schools
opsommingsteken Help transforming schools or training institutions to become an inclusive, living and learning organisation


opsommingsteken Ecology of development: qualitative research into processes of man and his environment in relation to development of children with neurological impairments 
opsommingsteken Qualitative research into the influence of inclusive education
opsommingsteken Dynamic assessment of cognitive functioning


 International: Inclues Network for Inclusive & Cognitive Education. co-founder of the European Association for Mediated Learning and Cognitive Modifiability

 National: co-founder of the Support Network for Cognitive Learning Enhancement and Mediation - member of the Ministry of Education's Steering Group Special Needs and Mainstream Education

return to top

Pedagogy and Medicine?

Why a project on Learning Enhancement and Inclusion within a Department of Medicine? This can be partly explained by historical coincidence. But there is a logical link as well. There are famous predecessors, who were medical doctors and pedagogues: Itard, Montessori, and Petö. A large part of health and disease has to do with life-style and living conditions. These can be outer behaviours or conditions (e.g. what you eat, movement, driving style, hygiene, working situation, way of living, rituals, amount of stress all influence health or disease). But also inner experiences are very (even more) important when understanding health and disease: how do people experience their situation, do they see possibilities of change, or do they experience themselves as powerless victims? What about responsibility, quality of relationships? Awareness, lack of meaningfulness? All this has a lot to do with how someone uses his mental faculties These are "shaped" by the "ecology" (family, school, etc.) until someone is free enough to decide for oneself. It is not a coincidence that almost all diseases have a higher prevalence in people with so-called "lower" SES (socio-economic status). One cannot look at these correlations in a deterministic way. An answer to this situation could be that, in order to reach a higher level of health, maybe more should be invested in pedagogy than in health care: raising awareness, enlarging mental faculties, flexibility of thinking, teaching how to deal with circumstances, empowerment…

return to top


 1993-94: Project CREDIT (EU - Horizon D.G.V Social Affairs) intervention with adolescents and adults with learning disabilities due to neurological or social causes, with the objective of: improving general thinking skills, autonomy, working attitudes and finding mainstream jobs. Training of staff at schools and vocational training centres (Nivo Brussel, Centrum Geestelijke Gezondheidszorg Papenvest Brussel). Partnership with The Binoh Centre, London, OASI M.S.,Istituto per la ricerca sul ritardo mentale e l'involuzione cerebrale, Troina, Sicilia, Technical University of Lisbon (Faculdade de Motricidade Humana dir. Prof. V.Da Fonseca) and the Centro de Formaçao Profissional Montemor (Portugal)

 During 1993-96 the EAMC (Eur. Ass. For Mediated Learning and Cognitive Modifiability) organised a series of conferences & seminars (with the support of the EU Commission- HELIOS D.G.V Social Affairs) in Antwerp, Paris, Madrid, Bordeaux, Utrecht

 1995-96: Project Smile (Dutch Ministry of Welfare + Sardes Foundation, The Netherlands): training, development of a course in mediated learning and in-service training

 1997-99: Project SMILEGH (EU-Leonardo D.G.XXII): training of teachers of adolescents and adults with learning disabilities of various schools and vocational training centres of the City of Rome

 1998-99: Project MENTOR (EU- D.G.V Equal Opportunities): intervention, training and research, together with the parents association Family and Disability -Family and Handicap: to improve inclusion of children with disability in schools and social life; establishing a resource centre, training professionals and parents, a library and raising political awareness

 1998-99: Project Just a minute let me think (Flemish Ministry of Education): training teachers in cognitive learning enhancement and mediating teaching style

 1998-2001: Project INSIDE (EU- COMENIUS D.G.XXII): developing and testing modules and materials for teachers, about the theme of cognitive learning enhancement. Partners: University of Portsmouth & Down Syndrome Educational Trust (Dep. Psychology, Prof. Sue Buckley), Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj of Romania (Dep. Social Work & Education, Prof. Maria Roth), University of Oslo (Dep Psychology, Turyd Lingstad) & Institute for Applied Pedagogy, Voss (Norway)

2003-2006 Project INCLUES ( EU-Comenius Network): setting up a European network to promote inclusive and cognitive education, to exchange models of good practice, which find a synthesis between inclusive education and learning enhancement

return to top


 Books or chapters

De Jager M. & Lebeer J. (1994) Denken kun je leren. Den Haag: Sardes (in Dutch)

Garbo R., Lebeer J (Eds.), (1994) In search of learning potential. Proceedings of the first European Conference on Instrumental Enrichment and Mediated Learning, Antwerpen 4-6 December 1993, Antwerpen/ Den Haag: Sardes-UIA ( multilingual publication English-Français+ summaries)

Lebeer J. & Sasson D. (1997) Instrumental enrichment. In: Hamers JHM & Overtoom MT (Eds) Teaching Thinking in Europe; Inventory of European Programmes. Utrecht: Sardes, p.97-104

Lebeer J. & Garbo R. (1997), Ecological influences in development of brain-impaired children:
a multi-dimensional approach, in: Kozulin A. (Ed.), The Ontogeny of Cognitive Modifiability Jerusalem: Int. centre for the Enhancement of Learning Potential, 239-258

Martínez-Beltrán JM, Lebeer J, Garbo R. (Eds.) (1997) ¿Es modificabile la inteligencia? Madrid: Editorial Bruño. 240pp. (also in French and English)

Lebeer J (1998) Développer les processus d'apprentissage de chacun: un enjeu européen face à l'exclusion sociale- Developing individual learning processes: the european challenge against social exclusion Actes du Séminaire européen de l'EAMC à Bordeaux, 7-9 Décembre 1996. Antwerpen: University of Antwerp UIA Press

Lebeer J, Garbo R, Engels P & De Vroey A (1999), Advocacy, Self-advocacy and inclusive action: a concluding perspective, in Daniels H & Garner P (1999), Inclusive Education. World Yearbook of Education. London/ Sterling: Kogan Page , pp. 252-265

Lebeer, J. (Ed.), In-clues. Clues to inclusive and cognitive education. Antwerpen/Apeldoorn: Garant


 Didactic materials

Lebeer J & Ruijters, M. (1996), Denkmiddelen-kit, Utrecht: Sardes ((in Dutch)

 Teachers' guides

Lebeer J & Ruijters M. (1996), Stimuleren van Mediërende Interacties en LeerErvaringen(SMILE)- losbladige uitgave, Utrecht: Sardes (in Dutch)

Lebeer J & Roth M (Eds.),( 2000)Com putem ridica performantele cognitive ale copiilor cu situatii defavorizante si a celor cu tulburari de dezvoltare in cadrul unui invâtâmânt inclusiv, Cluj: Universitatea Babes-Bolyai (in Romanian and Hungarian)

Lebeer J (Ed.), INSIDE (2001) How to activate
cognitive development of children with or at risk of developmental or learning problems inside the educational system?
Portsmouth & Antwerpen


Lafaille R, Debaene L & Lebeer J (1989), The Center of health Science at the University of Antwerp
Health Promotion
, 4 (4), 349-353

Lafaille R. & Lebeer J. (1991) The relevance of life histories for understanding health and healing Advances, the Journal of Mind-body Health, 7 (4): 16-32

Lebeer J (1992) Families with a handicapped child : dealing with pain is essential in the healing process, in : Kaplun A(Ed.), Health Promotion and chronic illness. Discovering a new quality of health, , 297-301, Kopenhagen, World Health Organisation Regional Publications Series ,No 44

Lebeer J (1990), Biographical research of children with a good development in spite of a severe brain or spine damage, in Hari M. (Ed.) Preparing for the Future. Proceedings of the first world congress on conductive Education, Budapest , 61-64

Lebeer J (1995) Conductive Education and the Mediated Learning Experience Theory of Feuerstein, European Journal of Special Needs Education, 10 (2), 124-137

Lebeer J (1998), Touching the intangible: eliciting optimal learning potential in The Change starts with me, Rädda Barn Conference, Mangalia, Romania 28-31st October 1998

Lebeer J (1998) How much brain does a mind need? Scientific, Clinical and Educational Implications of ecological Plasticity Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 40: 352-357

Lebeer J, Garbo R, Engels P & De Vroey A (1999), Advocacy, Self-advocacy and inclusive action: a concluding perspective, in Daniels H & Garner P (1999), Inclusive Education. World Yearbook of Education. London/ Sterling: Kogan Page , pp. 252-265

Lebeer, J. (2005), Shifting perspective: dynamic assessment of learning processes in children with developmental disabilities, Erdélyi Pszichológiai Szemle (Transsylvanian Journal of Psychology), Special Issue on Dynamic Assessment, 1,55-85

 Lebeer, J. (2006), Clues to inclusive and cognitive education: reconciling needs to integrate and to activate learning processes, in Erdélyi Pszichológiai Szemle (Transsylvanian Journal of Psychology), special issue on inclusive and cognitive education, 2006 Supplement, pp.31-66


Back to homepage return to top