The use of design thinking by educators across the board is influencing Education in two very distinct ways; students are becoming shapers of knowledge rather than simple receivers of knowledge, and they are also learning to apply design thinking to their everyday lives!

An example of the former method, wherein students are looked upon as active stakeholders of their own education, is of Michael Schurr, a primary teacher from New York. When Michael realized that he had never taken the input of his students with respect to making the class environment more comfortable, he took the time to speak to his students directly. A simple yet powerful feedback that he received was to lower the height of bulletin boards where students could more easily access the material that had been put up for them. Read here about how other educators are using Design Thinking to modify their curriculums, classrooms, communities and culture.

Another example is that of Sara Matlock from Boise High School in Idaho. Her incredible words ring true to the value of Design Thinking:

So let’s imagine a world without limitations. A world where ideas can resonate and make an impact. A world that is accessible to students.

This is where design thinking starts.

Read about her experience of taking ownership of her learning, along with her peers, here.

The second method refers to actually equipping students with the ability to use Design Thinking as a tool to solve problems in the everyday lives of students, thus preparing them to solve larger global issues. A wonderful example was set by New Tech High School Napa and Principal Riley Johnson who kicked off the 2017 academic year with a three day design thinking challenge for students and children alike. Based on progressive principles, the vision of equipping students with skills and tools to succeed in the 21st century, New Tech High School has been at the helm of an educational revolution in Napa and beyond. The design thinking challenge allowed students from different grades and curriculums to come together to work on solving one of the many thematic issues that they most cared about. So for example, a third grade student and a seventh grade student would be put in the same group if they both chose the issue of Human Rights / Water / Violence / Equity etc. The group then worked on workable solutions to these problems and focused on the different aspects of the problem that mattered most to each of the members of the group. You can read more about their experience here.

The use of Design Thinking is paving the way for skills to be learnt and taught with a ‘doing’ approach, as is the requirement of most critical 21st century skills. Educators are being looked upon as agents of change in their own classrooms to foster this novel method of thinking and problem solving and raising the next generation of innovators. Due to the recent urgency of using this approach, Design Thinking tools and modules are being developed for students and teachers simultaneously. We have curated for you some resources to introduce your students and children to Design Thinking in various scenarios:

  1. 45 Design Thinking resources for Educators: https://www.teachthought.com/pedagogy/45-design-thinking-resources-for-educators/
  2. What are the steps to conduct a design thinking session in your classroom: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/design-thinking-betty-ray
  3. IDEO, the organisation that has been working on Design Thinking for quite some time has developed a Design Thinking for Educators toolkit: https://www.ideo.com/post/design-thinking-for-educators
  4. Do you want to see how one individual got students to form an after school Design Club to work on a pilot project to design a mobile app? https://medium.com/design-club/teaching-design-thinking-in-primary-schools-e5e2e7a9ffab
  5. This beginners guide to Design Thinking in the classroom is a quick introduction to some of the basic underlying principles of Design Thinking: http://ajjuliani.com/the-beginners-guide-to-design-thinking-in-the-classroom/
  6. Read this article to know how the Ministry of Education in British Columbia introduced a module of Applied Design, Skills and Technologies (ADST) and are allowing students from Grade K-5 to build solid foundations in this curriculum in their most critical school years: http://westvancouverschools.ca/westbay-elementary/design-thinking-and-making/
  7. These are the 10 essential things to remember when teaching Design Thinking to your child or student: https://blog.edcite.com/2014/08/06/10-essentials-to-design-thinking-in-the-elementary-classroom/

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