Meet Wilfried Thijs. Dutch teacher, bike builder and artist. Has a lot changed in the classroom over the last 20 years? ‘The language! Twenty years ago, 90% of the students in my class were Dutch-speakers, whereas 80% of them are now from other countries. Some students can speak good Dutch within a short space of time, while others manage to communicate but fail when it comes to the language of the course. I have to adapt and give more thought to how I present things. When I used to say the truth is a lie it used to raise a smile. Because the sentence does have something in it but they are becoming less and less able to recognise the paradoxical side of this.’
People cycling along the Leuven-Brussels high-speed train line sometimes see him. A thin, grey-pigtailed man on a racing bike, a retro bike or a self-constructed, open reclining bicycle. From Herent to the Royal Athenaeum School in Zaventem and back, peddling furiously to cover 50 km a day.