Design thinking | An approach for our world

I was lucky to be invited to facilitate a design thinking workshop at the Emerging Leaders Summit with 55 stunning educators – and with another session coming up in a few days focused on inquiry for future-focussed learning, I thought I’d capture some of the ‘why’ here.

Both sessions adopt creative/design thinking as a dynamic approach to prompting us – teachers, students, leaders – to think, ponder, explore, question and create in ways that are unconstrained.

At the Summit, we designed a learning space for a partner’s needs; next week, we’ll use the process to drive rich student inquiry, enabled by digital technologies. I have used it unpack problems of practice and develop an inquiry focus for professional learning.

There are some great programmes already running around the world that have been inspiring starting points for me: The Stanford d school, NoTosh and Design Thinking for Educators are all recommended.

Here’s the skinny…

…on why it suits future-focused learning – and the New Zealand curriculum, in particular.

1. User-driven approach

Inclusion is important. Knowing our learners is crucial. Personalised learning that motivates each one of us is an approach to aspire to. Understanding our colleagues and our communities must drive our decisions. Design thinking puts them at the heart. Empathy drives evolving ideas. Design thinking not only drives the process, it is itself driven by one’s own needs, choice and preference.

2. Questions beyond the usual

How often do we fall back on what we already know? A unit we have taught, a teaching approach that seemed to work in the past, tried and true professional learning, decision-making at the leadership level. Design thinking gives us space to dream big, think wide, generate ideas and iterate fresh thinking. The ability to ask deep, probing questions is at the heart.

3. Create and critique

From consultation to drafting writing, testing thinking to prototyping scenarios, this approach provides a framework to test, create, fail and re-design.  The action cycle – such as inquiry into teaching practice – supports evolving processes, refined over time.

4. hands-on & (whisper it!) fun!

Authentic learning, practice based inquiry, evolving models of pedagogy. Tackle real world problems of teaching design. Invite students into the process to develop learning driven by social action. Get your hands dirty. Glue guns at fifty paces.

But don’t take my word for it….

Check out the slideshow here and a selection of the tweets below

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Design thinking makes it safe to fly. People, you are cleared for take off.

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