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Design Thinking for Reinvigorating Schools

This past winter I taught a MOOC called Design Thinking for Leading and Learning. One of participants was a new teacher from Worcester, Massachusetts, Jed Lindnholm. Jed moved to teaching after 20 years in human resources, and he's a strong advocate for the efforts underway to revitalize teaching and learning in Worcester and Southbridge. In a recent Op-Ed in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, Jed shares his vision for how "high performing schools and successful students just don't happen, they are built by design" and by using design thinking: 

"Design Thinking: this new approach to teaching captures the energy of a start-up and the discipline of engineers solving a design problem. Engineers use a six-step iterative approach - identify the problem, research and brainstorm, design a solution, build a prototype, test and modify, and finally communicate and share. Design thinking uses this structure in a hopeful, positive approach to learning that allows risk and failure to happen as a natural part of achieving goals. Design thinking fosters creativity and innovation by creating a safe space for students and teachers to learn through failure.

Professor Justin Reich from the Teaching System Lab at MIT highlights two fundamental reasons why schools should use design thinking. He explains "1. Design thinking is a fun, optimistic, hopeful way for teachers and administrators to work together to make their schools even better, and 2. Students learn more from who we are than what we tell them." Design thinking encourages teachers, administrators, students, and parents to actively and openly work together to solve problems. Teachers use design thinking with students by helping them apply the skills being taught to solve problems or present information in ways that make sense for students. Design thinking gives students a deeper experience in their classroom work."

Read the full op-ed at the Worcester Telegram and Gazette. and check out our Design Thinking for Leading and Learning course. 

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