Design thinking: an important tool for school children
May 23rd, 2020
We interrogate the world by making.” Bill Burnett
Design thinking is a long process that involves many stages of understanding people, identifying their concerns and then building solutions to deftly solve them. It is a human centred approach to decision making, aproblem solving methodologywhich can be used to craft impactful solutions. As school children, especially in India where the education system emphasises rote learning, you can definitely benefit fromlearning a methodologythat is so exploratory and iterative. As per Stanford education professor Shelley Goldman, the significant thing about design thinking is that everyone can do it. She thinks of creativity as a muscle that can be trained.Let’slook at the ways school children in India can benefit by learning then exercising design thinkingskills.
One of the major takeaways if you are a child learning design thinking in school is the emphasis on empathy andexperiential learningin the process. A design thinking approach to anything means that as a first step, you would have to put yourself in another person’s shoes to understand their context and where they are comingfrom.Only then can that person’s problems be understood for the process to goahead.
This is a valuable skill for you to have, and will help you grow into an adult who is kinder, more caring and willing to shoulder other people’s problems in order to find solutions.
Absorbing the basics of design and design thinking
While school programs are evolving now faster than ever before, even incorporatingsummer programs for high school students, the Indian education system could use more of a shift towards a design based approach. Especially with the evolution of the world to a more visual and iterative way of life, design skills and learning the ins and outs of design thinking can push you to learn more about how the world works during your student life and how you can use design to improve the world, your own life and the lives of others.
A problem solving approach to life
With design thinking,projects for school studentswill encourage you to broaden your horizons and look for problems and then go beyond yourself to seek solutions. It is an empowering approach to life, making sure that you are equipped with the tools to tackle any hurdles in your way right from childhood. As children, you are often unworried by cynicism and have a hopeful outlook to life. This can be harnessed to have you think practically about how to deal with real world scenarios where solutions are sought. Definitely a much better use of your time than leaning on information-heavy exam-writing models ofeducation.
Learning to iterate solutions
As children, you have impressionable minds and are also more idealistic. Once you are equipped with design thinking tools, teaching you to iterate solutions for problem statements will lead to wonderful results andhands-on learning. As children, you are also very accepting of challenges, looking at them in fun, interesting ways. You are eager to hunt for solutions, or failing that, to build them. Equipping you with the tools to iterate versions of solutions and test out the best ones right from school, will help you grow into a generation of problem solvers ready to test your boundaries and push your limits.
Learning to incorporate feedback
As children, you are often hungry for feedback. Quite often, if matters are explained well, you will accept any failures or critique and try to improve yourself or your processes, refining yourhigher order thinking skills. Honing and harnessing these behaviours to shape a generation who are unafraid of feedback will be extremely rewarding. From here, you will emerge scientists, designers, architects, engineers, thinkers who are willing to see other perspectives and improve yourselves.
Developing critical thinking skills
Critical thinking is the ability to analyse a situation with an objective perspective and form judgements accordingly. However, to become a critical thinker, you have to let go of ego. This is something that you as children can learn early on. It will help you go beyond yourself and reach for horizons that others can only dream about. All of this rests on your ability to think and reason without attachment, while searching for the best answers and solutions. Design thinking is an important asset in developing this ability. Creating an environment ofproject based learningfor you when you are young will help you to create a better world for yourself and for others while being the best versions of yourself.
Developing curiosity about the world
The bedrock of design thinking is having a sense of curiosity about the world and a thirst to learn more.Student summer internshipsoften fill up fast because of this fact. As a child, you have an inborn inquisitiveness that makes you question everything and you want to learn as much as you can. This is something that can be carefully cultivated with the help of design thinking tools. When you are curious and you come up against problems, you can be encouraged to look for solutions that can be developed and implemented to solve those problems. In this way, your curiosity can be the conduit towards learning more about the world and its problems, while underscoring that they you find answers or create your own.
Developing a mind-set of helping people
People and their problems are at the heart of design thinking. You are often very perceptive and also more motivated to help during childhood. If encouraged in the right way, you can also have a strong moral core from childhood which can help you advocate better for the people you want to help. It could be something as simple aslearning IOTto help your parents by creating IOT enabled solutions around the house. Thus,design thinking schoolscan facilitate children to lend a hand to people. The process will make you into young individuals who have concern and care for your fellow people, who will shape the world into a more compassionate place.
Refining people skills
One of the major skills that must be refined on a journey in design thinking is the ability to interact with various kinds of people. Design thinking is a people centred approach to problem solving and can be of use to people working across various industries. For example, quite a fewSTEM projectscan benefit from the design thinking approach. If you learn about the role of people in any process when you are in school, you will learn how to empathize at an early age and with different people in various contexts. Once you learn design thinking as a methodology, you will naturally begin to hone your people skills. This has a cascading impact on life and, since humans are social animals, it will only lead to a richer and more rewarding life.
Children who develop this skill will grow into trustworthy individuals who can thrive in any environment and across a cross section of people. You will always feel at home anywhere in the world.
Developing a human centred approach to life
Involving the human perspective at all stages is the key to design thinking processes. The outcome is entirely dependent on how much and how well you can interact with people and how you can build solutions that help them. Once this is inculcated deep in your lives as school children, you will always emerge looking for ways they can add value to people. If you are a child who thinks like this, you are much more likely to go beyond existing parameters to envision a world where all solutions are human centred. In this way, we can lay the foundation for a better future.
In short,design thinking courseshave a plethora of benefits for growing school going children. It is an enormous value add and can shape young minds into potential shining stars of the future. This will ensure you grow into good, sound human beings ready to solve problems and create new avenues for the world to progress upon.
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