“Design Thinking”, Unblocking Children’s Creative Abilities
The classroom has traditionally been a place where the teacher is in front and students spend their time listening and repeating. This has changed today, with the student being placed in the center, and effective way for this to happen is for the student to experiment. This is what is known as “Design Thinking”, which in summary is the development of solutions to problems or challenges through a deliberate, cyclical process that begins with empathizing with the person experiencing the challenge to clearly identify that challenge, followed by a deliberate evaluation of the success of the solution. “Design Thinking’s” concern is not limited to results themselves, but rather considers the importance of the journey, and how the student confronts the problem and solves it through trial, testing and error.
The most interesting thing about this form of learning is that the process is cyclical: it begins with a problem or a need, later develops into a proposal or draft response for the problem, after which progress is evaluated and finally the proposal is adjusted to begin the cycle anew.
The “Design Thinking” process can be performed by children of all ages given that this methodology allows students to make real connections with learning at any given time, as it promotes reflection on the learning process.
At Academia Cotopaxi, we begin working on “Design Thinking” with students in the third grade; however, beginning at the preschool level we develop the motivation needed for students to develop the most important skill of all: an inquisitive mind.
The main skills developed through this technique are: critical thinking, reflexivity and proactivity. Depending on the Project, youth can also develop other skills such as communications or motor skills, meaning that this is an interdisciplinary development.
Some examples of such “Design Thinking” projects are: creation of a musical garden of instruments made with reclaimed materials, film festivals with stop-motion movies created by students, and solutions that will make a difference in their learning environment such as soundproofing classrooms that are too noisy with recycled materials, or installing vertical gardens watered with rainwater.
The advantage to working with projects is that students can develop a deeper level of learning as the process impacts them at the emotional level, providing added value.
The idea that a teacher’s job is limited to pointing out a page in a book for students to complete is in the past. Methodologies like “Design Thinking” demonstrate that the educator’s true role goes even further than books and involves motivating youth to take on problem solving through exploration with creative ideas.
Educational Benefits of Design Thinking:
1) Creates a modern learning experience adapted to real environments
2) Redesigns educational spaces with the involvement of student projects.
3) Students work in their very own collaborative environments
4) Promotes interdisciplinary studies
5) Generates meaningful learning
6) Uses student interests to help motivate them
7) Students develop critical thinking and empathy
What do you think about the projects that Academia Cotopaxi has developed with this methodology? Have your children taken part in similar activities? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section.