The next generation will need to be more and more comfortable with problems of dizzying complexity. And design thinking can teach them that.
You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it. — Albert Einstein
The test scores are out again. And once again, American kids aren’t doing so well.
You can choose any of the international standardized tests and on average, American children will always be stuck in the middle, compared with their peers in other countries. Leading the pack in test scores are the students in Scandinavian countries, China, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore, with American students always trailing behind. And every time a new batch of test scores are published, you can hear the tapping of keyboards as various authorities opine about the dire state of the American education system.
We all recognize a need for massive change in American education, but is our ultimate goal to outrank other countries in assessment tests and to beat the Chinese in math scores? We need to look at the world around us and consider what global problems modern society will need our children to solve.
We need new minds equipped with new ways of thinking.
Our world desperately needs leadership in achieving sustainable social justice, not simply learning the answer to a test question. America needs massive change in our understanding of the learning experience, not simply in our exam results. Simply put, to change the world, we need a generation of new minds equipped with new ways of thinking. We need to drastically shift our conception of education and then completely transform how we facilitate learning.
Future generations will be called to solve some of the most challenging problems ever created and faced by man. Our children must master systems-thinking to envision multiple methods for addressing complex challenges like renewable energy, world hunger, climate change, and ultimately, the design of a better world. They must also possess the compassion to recognize the rising human population and create a world that is inclusive, rather than exclusive.
To find a new set of solutions for our education system, let’s begin by asking the generation that is most affected by the current state of education. Prototype Design Camp was created by Christian Long, a visionary educator, to introduce and infuse design thinking skills into the K-12 landscape.
Students learned collaboration rather than information consumption.
“Last February, in the middle of an historic winter storm across the US, 30 high school students from 14 different schools in Ohio trekked their ways through the snow and ice to participate in the first Prototype Design Camp. They came fully engaged in helping the world answer one of the most perplexing challenges facing them: How do I engage and navigate through this fast changing world?”—Christian Long
As described on the website, Prototype Design Camp was an “innovative three day design camp [that] brought together…students and professional mentors to collaborate in an intense design challenge to address real world problems.”
The students—from public schools, private schools, and a career-technical high school—worked in groups with other students that they had never met before. Mentors worked with the groups, allowing students to learn through behavior modeling and collaboration rather than information consumption.
The results were a creative array of news networks, school designs, and student movements, but the most compelling outcome was the student experience itself. Reflections at the end of the conference from students included tremendous gratitude, a deep interest in the design process, and most importantly, a motivation to thoroughly create change.
According to the mysterious and beautiful properties of Quantum Entanglement, if you take any two objects and entangle them, you create an inseparable relationship between them. If you were to separate two entangled electrons, even sequester them at opposite sides of the universe, measuring one electron will instantaneously affect the other.
The Prototype Design Camp experience left us with the conviction that together, we can entangle design and learning and thus invent a new literal, visual, and spatial language. This language will give us the lexicon to support a radically new map and experience for learning and teaching. As we stand at the threshold decade of the third millennium, generations of world-changing minds are at stake.
[Photo courtesy of Christian Long]
Trung Le is a principal education designer at Cannon Design. Over the past two years he has helped lead an interdisciplinary group of designers and educators from the U.S., U…. Read more