Thoughts on design thinking: Kayla Collins, SPS Lower School Teacher
I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity to go to the Nueva Design Thinking Institute. I have spent the last three years creating and implementing Project Based curriculum and was excited to see how Design Thinking fit into this style of learning.
Within Project Based learning my students always had a driving question as the focus of everything they did. It was a problem that the students would solve using their subject base knowledge as the foundation. For example, one driving question I had for my students was: Design a robot to take back in time for Benjamin Franklin. What problem will it solve?
Within this driving question, I was able to integrate all the subjects in a purposeful way where the students saw the relevance of what they were learning. Everything pointed back to that driving question. The students did research papers on Benjamin Franklin. We studied problems within the colonies day-to-day life. We read books about this time period, and compared and contrasted what we read to the present day. We learned computer programming and robotics, and used what we were learning to solve math problems. By the time we had completed several weeks of building our knowledge in these areas, the students were able to find a problem to solve, build and program a robot that could solve that problem, and then present their robot to the community.
This summer I was very intrigued to see how Design Thinking fit into this process. After my week at the Design Thinking Institute, I discovered that my students were already jumping into Design Thinking without the name, except for one important piece: It should be about the user and not the product. Empathy is the foundation of Design Thinking. The focus is on the user and their needs. Often with Design Thinking, the product is a gift. Students are creating for the better good of someone else, not just to create a product to present. I am excited to pull this important piece into my lessons, and see my students grow in empathy and being problem solvers within their community.
Our world is forever changing around us with the rapid advances in technology, which means that the workplace that our students face someday will look different than it does even right now. To prepare our students, we must give them critical thinking skills and confidence to be problem solvers and designers in any situation.