“Design Thinking” for K-12 education

David Kelley, founder of the global design firm, IDEO, is a legend.  I remember visiting the firm while at Stanford and being mesmerized by the creative and innovative energy that oozed from its environment, people, and products.  (IDEO developed the computer mouse as we know it.)  Public School Insights presented an interview with David Kelley, focusing on the integration of “design thinking” in K-12 schools.  It’s a quick read and quite interesting.

Kelley basically defines “design thinking” as “… a methodology that allows people to have confidence in their creative ability”.  He describes design thinking as a framework to help people be “more routinely creative” or “routinely innovative”.  Powerful!  I remember being in elementary school and teachers saying, “let’s put our creative thinking hats on” when really they should always be on (at least according to Kelley).  Kelley explains that it is “integrative thinking” and requires empathy, intuition, and synthesis.  A complement to analytical thinking.

He and his team of Stanford design graduate students are working with teachers, inspiring them to create fresh learning environments, looking for feasible ways to infuse design thinking into the curriculum.  He acknowledges that while teachers value his approach, many struggle to find the time to integrate it into their practices.  He states, “So I think that the thing to do in K-12 to get design thinking in the curriculum is to find little ways, little cracks in the system to put it in.  Put it in afterschool.  Put it in the way kids do their homework… once you get in, people really resonate with the social, emotional, empathy-based, project-based, storytelling-based skills that we think are important.”  The key?  “…figure out a way to get some of these concepts – empathy, prototyping, synthesis – included.”  Do you include these concepts in your teaching practices?

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