Dominic Randolph

Head of School, Riverdale Country School


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Use design thinking in schools for educators to improve schools and to improve the process of learning in classrooms

Why can't we use the "design thinking" process as championed by IDEO and the at Stanford to improve the quality of teacher problem-solving in schools and improve the learning process of students in classrooms? It seems such a robust methodology, and yet, the awareness of "design thinking" in schools, even after Dan Pink's book 'A Whole New Mind', is relatively shallow.

It would be great to start a movement of taking the entire process or elements of the process and use them in strong ways in schools and school systems to change the way that schools work: to push more formative assessment processes, to allow every member of a school community to develop "creative confidence", to have teachers and students understand and rely on process as well as product, to give permission to the various stakeholders in school that they can indeed produce change.

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    Mar 8 2011: Yes, Dominic, these are sound ideas. How contrary to the current educational environment, where teachers are commonly viewed as classroom traffic cops and students as empty receptacles. The paradigm you describe is far more inspiring and ultimately productive for producing capable citizens than current rhetoric and planning for teacher accountability through standardized test scores.

    Do we simply begin by lighting fire where tinder is the driest? In communities that are open and asking for this kind of paradigm shift? How do we bring this forth in resistant communities or those with fewer resources?
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    Mar 8 2011: Dominic - It sounds like this is popping up everywhere! I lobbied an agency here (in Australia) about 2 years ago about this to an established client (a board of education in the US) for whom they'd done some spectacular work. The premise was about using a human-centred design approach to explore how students and teachers could actively collaborate and create a more engaging approach. At that time HCD wasn't very well understood here, and Design Thinking is slowly becoming more understood as a term, so hopefully there will be some great examples in the near future to point to.
    TED did feature Emily Pilliton's talk, which is a practical example of the impact of design thinkling on education and is really worth a look:
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    Mar 2 2011: Had an interesting conversation with Marc Hacker of the Rockwell Group who are thinking about how schools can engage designers and students in re-imaging schools.
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    Mar 1 2011: Dominic - I was telling a friend about this exact idea just days ago. After returning from Disney World, I was struck by the fact that the imagineers of Disney have literally choreographed every moment of one's experience at their parks. The result: kids and adults alike walk away from their time there with a newfound sense of idealism, creative genius, and the ideas of possibilities. If this were applied to the school room, I cannot even imagine what would come about. Let's get creative design thinkers to step into the role of school-aged children to manifest what could be into a reality. That way, education could birth more than just good test scores but the next generation of innovators and passion-driven citizens.
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      Mar 2 2011: Lauren, I do think it would be amazing to see if we could bring design and creativity more significantly into all aspects of school life. I think getting the kids involved in the design process of re-imagining schools. I do think that the "design thinking" process offers a flexible but rigorous methodology for groups of adults and children to use to change schools.