design thinking inside out

The emotional roller coaster of education and design

This is a short introduction to education and design. It is not about design education or design school. It’s about two worlds, which often appear unrelated, but little by little, they are moving forward together as we begin to have some worldwide consensus about the over-riding importance of learning, literacy and life skills over academic achievement and the so-called professions.

We’ll need all our emotions for this journey because education and design are chock-full of them: Joy, Anger, Sadness, Disgust, and Fear! Anybody who works in education, design, or both (!) will know this, and the children and students who attend school experience these emotions every minute, just like 12-year-old Riley Anderson in the 2015 film Inside Out.

The world has, and is, changing rapidly and all systems are trying to keep apace. Education systems all over the world are attempting to respond, with a number of interesting ideas and formulas, but there continues to be much discussion about the best strategy or method.

Inside Out reminds us of the presence of our emotions at all ages and stages of our lives, over and above specific abilities, let alone qualifications. It is therefore a good way to introduce the term design thinking, which is an approach to business, education and if I may advance to say, life (NYT article January 2016), and not a pretty label.

After much joy and sadness, I am positive that design thinking is on its way to a long and happy life in education. It hasn’t quite happened yet, but it will.

Sadness: It’s long term memory… you’ll get lost in there.

Joy: C’mon! Think positive!

Sadness: Okay…


Sadness: I’m positive that you’ll get lost in there!

Getting lost is immensely important to learning, so in the next instalment we’ll go for a deep dive in the language of education and design and create a map of the current flows of thought and systems in action.

Rachel Fincken

Tweetkids Observatory Made in the Playground

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