How design thinking makes for better prepared students

How design thinking makes for better prepared students
What is student-friendly design process thinking?

According to John Spencer, student-friendly design thinking follows a cycle that he calls the LAUNCH cycle. Students look, listen, and learn. Then they ask tons of questions. They understand the process or problem through deeper research which leads them to navigate ideas and create a prototype. Finally they highlight what is working and fix what is failing.

Another key characteristic of design thinking is giving equal value to the process as to the product. It’s not about the destination. This can be tough in any field where you often are judged by the tangible results of your work, such as standardized evaluations where the number on the page is the end all and be all. But, much of the learning children do is totally invisible. It isn’t all about the facts kids recite or the number of books they read in a semester. It’s about the kind of person they are becoming.

Nurtures Greater Resourcefulness

Design thinking is the key to navigating the maze of jobs and problems of real life after school. According to Spencer, design thinking teaches students determination, workarounds, good citizenship, and adaptability. The old model of getting good grades, graduating college, and climbing a corporate ladder simply is no longer a reality.

A great example is Abby Schukei’s article about how art education can foster better digital citizens in which she shares actual tools and lessons that teachers can use.  Like Spencer says, design process thinking “doesn’t show up on the test, but it shows up in life!”


Develops Resilience and Skills for Real World Situations

Many teachers will be able to tell you that kids practice design process thinking already if you let them; they play. Research such as Dr. Peter Gray’s has shown just how essential play is in reducing student depression and anxiety. According to Gray, increasingly product-driven schooling give students the sense that they don’t have any control over their futures.

Unfortunately for students, play is often cast aside as a waste of time, but it is essential to practicing for real world situations. If we let students self-direct, they develop the resilience and skills they need. This is true for learners of all ages. Tim Brown’s TED Talk Tales of Creativity and Play is full of fun examples about the relationship between play and creativity.

Adaptability and Open-Mindedness Encourages Creative Life-Long Learning

“Teachers are content experts, but they’re also kid experts,” says Spencer. They know what kids need and should be given space to design learning processes around their students’ needs. Design process thinking brings together structured problem solving and student-driven play, but it only works if teachers and students are given space to take risks. Spencer’s LAUNCH cycle is a great framework but he also says, “the beautiful thing about frameworks is you can modify them.” Creative life-long learning is all about being adaptable and open-minded in the ways we teach and learn.

Learn more:

For you busy bees who want to learn more but don’t have time to wander around the internet searching and reading, this 30 minute long podcast episode, Design process thinking with John Spencer produced by Bedley Bros Edchat is perfect for your commute or doing dishes.

Check out these concrete examples of how to integrate design thinking for students in the classroom in eight steps and download the Design Thinking Toolkit for Educators from IDEO.


How to Cut The Clutter and Gain More Focus

How to Cut The Clutter and Gain More Focus

The beginning of a new school year is a great time start anew but sometimes it also brings in a little chaos. Parents are hustling to get extra supplies for their kids, the city has an extra bustle to it, and even the park squirrels are busy getting plump. Taking the time to pare down and make space for what is to come can help.

(Fun fact: The word pare comes from the Latin parare, to prepare.)

Clutter distracts our mind

With years of experience dealing with complicated or down-right shocking situations with kids, teachers and parents have mastered multitasking. With long work weeks, children to raise, and bills to pay, we could all use a little more clarity and a little less distraction. You know what I’m talking about – the stack of unread books on your nightstand, the old clothing you keep meaning to donate, and those receipts you thought you could claim on your tax return in 2012.

Sherrie Bourg Carter Psy.D’s writes in Psychology Today, “clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary or important.” Among all the things that distract us , clutter is relatively easy to fix, on our desks and in our digital lives. Computers, apps, cloud storage and everything in between are great tools meant to simplify your life; however, if they aren’t managed mindfully, they can also bog you down.

Aside from the more obvious roadblocks of clutter such as not being able to find documents or losing track of meetings, according to Bourg Carter, clutter also fills up the physical and mental space that we need for creative brainstorming and focused problem-solving.

There are three key steps you can take to clear your desk and your mind.

  1. Decide what you really need

Imagine what you would absolutely need if you lived in a 100 sq ft apartment. What can’t you live without? You’d probably keep your smartphone and not those Disney VHS’s from the 80s. Life Hacker’s Alan Henry recommends day dreaming. Sit in the park or in a café (not at home or at work) to write out those essentials objects that you absolutely need.

Not everything can be reduced to its usefulness. Make another list of things with which you have an important emotional attachment. It‘s a good idea to keep that little ceramic pot your niece made for you when she was five if you love it, but not the card from that weird guy that no one knew at your last holiday party.

  1. Sort and purge

Now is the time to sort. Take your time. Go room by room, or inch by inch depending on how wild your desk has grown. Start by dividing your things into four categories: keep, donate, trash, and store. If you’re finding it hard to let go of something, give it a second life by donating it. Henry also suggests digitizing photos, paperwork, books, and music. There are plenty of cloud storage solutions like Google Drive or Dropbox to help you out.

Once you’ve sorted, check back in with that list you imagined earlier. Do you really need the things that weren’t on that first draft? Are you are keeping them because you can’t decide if you need them? Be honest with yourself.

  1. Put things away immediately

Sherrie Bourg Carter Psy.D. emphasizes that clutter is also about habit. “When you take something out of its designated space, put it back immediately after you’re finished. Sounds simple, but it actually takes practice and commitment.” Always leave a place better than you found it. We teach this to kindergarteners, but sometimes forget to apply it in our personal work spaces, both digital and physical. You’ll be less stressed and less distracted as a result.