What are your 1st graders doing today? Heck, what are your high school seniors doing today? Is it as engaging and full of enthusiasm for learning as what you will see on these short videos from Mary Cantwell and Mt. Vernon Presbyterian School? Is the time your students and teachers are spending in their classes and seats today preparing them for real world challenges as well as this exercise in empathy and design?
You don’t have to watch all 12 minutes of these videos; a snip or two from each and you get it. Design thinking starts with empathy; understanding the needs of the user, of “the other”. These 1st graders will remember that key because they are learning-by-doing, and it does not cost a penny more than learning-by-sitting-and-listening. Does it work? When I visited MVP in the fall, one of their 2nd graders started lecturing me on the power of design, imagining, prototyping, risk, failing forward. His words, not mine. Yes, it works.
How easy is it to get ideas like this that you can leverage into your own program? I saw a tweet from Bo Adams (@boadams1)about the story on Mary’s (@scitechyEDU) site. Just so happens I have a call scheduled with Mary later today, hopefully to confirm that she will present at the Martin Conference in June. Follow their blogs and tweets, and those will lead to a wealth of other sources, and on and on. Go to Mary’s blog site and look at what MVP is doing in their design lab, which is just a room full of ideas and imagination. Share those with your colleagues and have a department meeting chat about them. We don’t all have to invent these ourselves; we just have to open our eyes and ears, and go where the excitement in student eyes takes us.