Why Design Thinking In Schools Loses Power When It’s Reduced To A Checklist
Why Design Thinking In Schools Loses Power When It’s Reduced To A Checklist originally appeared on Quora – the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
Why are we so opposed to Design Thinking as a solution for in-school learning?
Design Thinking is a philosophy of thinking. Design Thinking fosters ways of thinking about how things work in the world around us – versus making things in the world – for a few core thinking activities. My work with the TED Fellows puts Design Thinking into schools across the US and Canada. The TED Fellows and TED team are putting this into most high schools and some middle schools.
Given that Design Thinking starts with a think-experience about the world, how can we avoid designing new or simple activities around the same flawed model?
We have a very old school approach of designing activities from a check list of what the teacher says, or the parent in the back of the classroom, or a standard time framework, or even going with the flow of a group project or project request. Design Thinking is starting to edge out of all this, but it still fits well in familiar areas and isn’t more methodical than these. In fact Design Thinking acts as a bridge between the old school and the new school.
Design thinking does a great job with new tasks that go outside of the box (i.e. in the craziness of many current assignments or school tasks). Design Thinking is still effective as a new task. That is, it works with a lot of new tasks we have never thought of before, and often with the limited space of existing activity systems. In a nutshell, Design Thinking makes new task easier, though not to the level it solves for everything.
However, this approach is restrictive to fix problems and an inadequate solution to the problems we are facing.
We need the explosion of alternative activities, using new techniques. We need to get past thinking about the same old things, more frequently, of our own choosing. Design Thinking is limited and limited ways of thinking is the way we are proceeding through the school system.
Let’s explore some thoughts about how we can do more with this approach…
How do we leverage Design Thinking to shift the structure of learning?
One way Design Thinking might work is to make people’s choices instead of having them do less of the work or managing their own self-interests. Design Thinking asks students to think for themselves, rather than do the work already done by another adult. It looks at making people take responsibility for their thinking in the world and take more effort.
Let’s move to changing the whole set of activity system with Design Thinking so everyone is working together. When you have more opportunities for people to act, solving problems is a lot easier.
What kind of activity tools can we use?
How do we re-frame and reform how we find activity?
The idea of competing for work – in the little world or the big world – is very broken. If you’re competing with other students in grades, going into school, or trying to get better grades, then that’s not how to be creative and most activities are not creative, and your performance in them is less effective in the world.
How do we encourage the growth of students’ cognitive skills?
Design Thinking can also support children in developing skills and abilities they don’t currently have. In some instances, they just need to continue to pursue things or be more adventurous and solve for new challenges.
In many cases, you can tap into the learning potential that teachers are working so hard to cultivate. Maybe there is a part of learning you need to look at that isn’t captured or is disrupted by the structure or rules around learning.
Design Thinking can work through data about students to help you find effective activities that fit together.
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