Alumni Profile: Lance King and The Art of Learning

7 December 2016 

Waikato Alumnus, Lance King, always knew he could change the world if he put his mind to it, and that’s exactly what he’s doing today. Lance is an internationally recognized author, teacher and workshop facilitator.

Lance is the CEO and Founder of The Art of Learning through which he has worked with over 200,000 students. Lance’s first degree was in Food Technology from Massey Palmerston North (graduated 1977), and early in his career he worked as a Food Technologist, taught Food Technology and worked in professional development at Waikato Polytechnic. In 1995 Lance left the institution and set up the Art of Learning through which he was able to pursue his passion for helping children of all ages to improve their academic performance. In 2005, in order to gain academic credibility in his chosen field he attended Waikato University where he studied a post graduate diploma in Education and educational psychology, and in 2008 he graduated with 1st class honours from Waikato with a Masters of Education focused on teaching of the gifted and talented.

Today Lance King travels the world teaching the principles and strategies of effective learning to schools, universities, and private businesses. He delivers his message to educational establishments in 28 countries and has recently published his book ‘The Importance of Failing Well’ a book about how to succeed, use failure positively, and how to fail well or fail badly.

As you’ll read below, Lance has dedicated his life to the teaching and informing educational establishments about the real art of learning.

What are you doing now?

Running my education business. Delivering courses in thinking and learning skills for students, teachers and parents. Over 200,000 students in 28 countries have been through my courses to date.

Is what you’re doing now what you always wanted to do growing up?

I had no idea what I wanted to do when I was growing up but I always had the feeling I could change the world if I put my mind to it.

What have been the highlights and achievements for you so far – personally and professionally?

A good marriage, 4 great kids, a fabulous house in Raglan, a job that I love which takes me all over the world. Being asked by the International Baccalaureate to design their Approaches to Learning programme which I did and which is now being rolled out in over 4000 schools in more than 150 countries.

What have been some challenges for you that you’ve overcome – either in your work or home life?

When I started my business there was no one else doing what I set out to do anywhere in the world, as far as I could tell. I set out to run courses in schools teaching children how to learn effectively. It was very hard for the first few years because it was a great unknown. Once I got established in New Zealand the next challenge was to expand overseas. The UK was my first overseas contract – in 2001 I was asked to come and work in the 10 worst state schools in London in the Greenwich borough, and managed to make a measurable improvement in all 10 schools in terms of GCSE results. This success gave me the references I needed to move onto other schools and I have been coming back to London once a year ever since. All the work I do in other countries these days stems from my initial work in London.

In what ways do you feel the University of Waikato has prepared you for your future?

The University of Waikato gave me the opportunity and the means to research and write my Masters thesis – “The Importance of Failing Well” which has informed all my work ever since and has given me academic respect and ongoing work world-wide ever since.

Outside of your career and study, what do you enjoy doing?

Fishing, hanging out with my kids, lazing around in Raglan, reading.

What’s your favourite book/movie of all time and why did it speak to you so much?

Don’t really have a favourite book but anything by Alan Watts (the British/American philosopher of the 60s & 70s) would do as I have read them all. He showed me what was important in life. He said “smart people get paid to play”.

What do you ponder when you’re by yourself?

Which country I would like to explore next and how I can generate some work there.

What do you see yourself doing over the next five years? How do you see your career progressing?

Business as usual. More courses, more countries, more travel. Although now I have written three books of my own and contributed to three others I am planning on being away from home a bit less, doing a bit more writing and going fishing a bit more.

What advice would you offer to your 25 year old self?

Stop doing what everyone else expects you to do and do what you want to do. Find your passion and go for it 100%!

If you are interested in post graduate study and interested in a qualification such as the Master of Education, come along to one of our information sessions or enquire online.