Education specialist, connoisseur of the arts, radio presenter, writer, entrepreneur – there are few professional hats that Johan van Lill does not don with style.
“I have a restless mind,” he laughs when you ask him the secret to his success.
“Just like some people read five books at the same time, I like to have five projects on the go at the same time.
“I’m always looking for stimulation and I’m attracted to a wide variety of subjects. This is why, for example, my radio documentaries are so diverse, ranging from the arts and history to parenthood and religion.”
While other children were playing with toy cars, he was apparently spending his childhood already designing gadgets to ‘play school’ with.
“I never wanted to be a teacher though. But child and brain development, together with the kind of adults children become, fascinated me.”
Today Van Lill is one of few men in South Africa with foundation-phase teaching qualifications. He is also the author of several educational series and a developer of curriculum material for both primary and secondary schools.
One of his areas of expertise is the training of parents and teachers to prepare children optimally for school and formal learning.
“A child’s bruises and callouses and scrapes tell me how often she or he had fun playing outside and interacted with others,” he explains.
“Playing is an excellent way for a child to learn. You can see it immediately in how well developed physically a child is or how well a child communicates with you as an adult.”
Over the past few years, Johan has also begun to establish himself as a radio presenter at Fine Music Radio and RSG. It is here where he can express his love for the arts and culture.
“Interviews that have stood out over the years for me were with people like Amanda Strydom, David Kramer, Sandra Prinsloo and Marius Weyers.”
The programme on the dance legend Christopher Kindo was also a highlight.
“We recorded it three months after his death and I interviewed 20 people who had known him. It was quite an experience having to look through all the raw pain to be able to meet the man behind it.”
What with radio documentaries and theatre panels and the like, what else is there for Johan?
“I’m planning on becoming a Matie again next year! I had wonderful lecturers in the history department and it’s always been a dream of mine to come back to complete my honours . . .”
- By Steyn du Toit -