My first-born started her school journey this autumn. It’s the same school that I attended 30 years ago, a respected and multicultural school, back then quite a traditional one – discipline based, classroom centric, the teacher standing in front of the class, the pupils listening. It still is a good school, but I already have come to notice some important changes.
The first graders’ theme for the first weeks has been their hometown Helsinki. They have already made many excursions (e.g. Children’s town at the City Museum), spent time outside of school moving and observing their environment (e.g. how many cyclists use helmets) and learnt through their own experience (e.g. mapping how they travel to school). Currently, they are building in teams a city block, which involves planning, discussing different alternatives, making decisions together and executing their plans. The number one hit has been the intelligent carpet, a huge iPad as my daughter says, for doing math exercises, memory games and other cool stuff with your feet. A big thank you goes out to the progressive thinking and creativity of the class teacher. She acts rather as a facilitator and coach in the knowledge creation process than as the knowledge provider, like in the traditional teaching approach.
Whether the school’s management and teachers are talking about Design Thinking when planning the curriculum or teaching methods is secondary. Most important is what they are doing and how they are doing it. The fact is that the school’s teaching approach celebrates the ideology and values of Design Thinking, such as human-centricity, empathy, multidisciplinary thinking, holistic approach, creativity, collaboration, playfulness and visualization of thoughts. Also the phases and methods are similar to those used in Design Thinking, such as the design process introduced by IDEO for educators: discovery, interpretation, ideation, experimentation and evolution. Most importantly, the pupils are taught to think on their own and exercise analytical thinking, mixing facts and rational thinking with feelings and emotions. I truly hope they also learn to tolerate uncertainty and risk-taking and accept that doing mistakes and failures is an important part of the process. This wasn’t self-evident when I went to school.
I also started a new study journey this autumn in Service Innovation and Design (SID) at Laurea University of Applied Sciences. I am full of excitement and motivation! It is very different from that excitement as a freshman at University 20 years ago. After working intensively for the past decade I really know what interests me, I can draw from my own and others’ experiences, I am able to take different perspectives and I truly am ready to learn new things.
During our first course and intensive study weekend on Design Thinking we worked on a real-time challenge/opportunity, “Studying at Laurea”, using methods and steps of Mindshake’s Evolution 62 Design Thinking Model.
With our team “Wrinkle Girls” we
- Used in the Emergence phase opportunity mind mapping in order to identify our intent statement “Service Design Popup Community”,
- Drew a stakeholder map and carried out image interviews to come up with a moodboard in the Empathy phase,
- Did brainwriting and insight clustering in the Experimentation phase to build a desktop walkthrough – here we got to play with legos (!),
- Drew a service blueprint in the Elaboration phase to describe the service interactions of our idea and
- Developed finally in the Exposition phase a visual business model to image our first solution and concept of the “Service Busters”, a service tool helping current and former SID students and third parties in their design efforts.
What struck me during our two days of intensive working is how quickly we came up with a viable business model using Design Thinking tools – together with people prior unknown to each other, drawing on the thoughts of one another, what in the beginning seemed like a big mess but in the end got formulated into a structured service idea. And we had fun doing it!
My Daughter + Me = We
Reflecting back on the first weeks of my daughter going to school and my own studies, it’s funny how we are learning new things with quite the same methods, she unconsciously and me more theoretically. We are both preparing ourselves to deal with the uncertain future and the continuously changing world – we are on our way to becoming the Design Thinkers of Tomorrow, together!
Written by: Kristina Noor-Ilander
TSCHIMMEL, Katja et al. (2015). Research Report D-Think. Design Thinking Applied to Education and Training. ERASMUS+. KA2 Strategic Partnerships. http://www.d-think.eu/food-for-thought.html
Riverdale & IDEO (2012). Design Thinking for Educators. http://www.designthinkingforeducators.com/
Mindshake Design Thinking Principles and Design Thinking Model Evolution 62 http://www.mindshake.pt/design_thinking (25 Sept, 2016)
Harvard Business Review (September 2015). Spotlight on the Evolution of Design Thinking, p. 55-85.