This is the first in a promised gloss on each of the 11 THINGS INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS MUST BE THINKING ABOUT featured in my previous post. (I recap the entire list below the body of this post.)
#1. Design Thinking. What-ing?
Creativity. People keep talking about this, but how can it be taught? Is it just for art rooms and senior electives in fiction writing—or your most gifted soccer players?
Not hardly. For a few years now educators and some of the more intellectually far-ranging entrepreneurs who pay attention to learning environments have been working on ways to harness the potential of the design studio—with its essential focus on problem-solving, divergent thinking, skills, and often collaboration—to real-world problems that require original, outside the box analysis and the kinds of cross-disciplinary synthesizing that are what we want to see in all of our students.
A few models exist, and they are worth knowing about: IDEO, a top-level design company, offers a “Design Thinking Toolkit for Educators” through the Design Thinking for Educators website. Stanford’s d.school (Hasso Plattner Institute of Design) has partnered with public and private schools to take design thinking to schools. NuVu Studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts, runs an amazing term-away program (no residence facilities, at least yet) entirely built around this model.
You may not find easy ways to incorporate design-thinking or the studio model of learning into your curriculum (beyond your art classes, for whom some of these concepts are likely to be old news), but you should understand how it works. If you want a quick primer, watch Project Runway or an old episode of Junkyard Wars through your best innovative-educator glasses, imagining the show not as competition but as a creative learning experience; think Tim Gunn as coach and Michael Kors as assessor. Or read the terrific NuVu blog; students are often the main contributors.
So, who is thinking about design thinking at your school?
The 11 Things:
- Design Thinking. What-ing? DONE
- Data-informed decision-making
- Collaborative learning and (related issue) project design
- Smart assessment of student learning
- Social media—for advancement
- Social media—in the classroom
- New directions for your library
- Online learning
- Strategic professional
- Shorter horizons for strategic thinking
- Being Green