When I served on the Board of a project based school I tried to convince teachers to use the Human Design Tool Kit as a framework for projects. They were reluctant but I think that teachers who did this would change the world.
There is a lot of talk in the K-12 world about project-based learning, and IDEO's Human Centered Design Tool Kit and Field Guide are among the best resources available for anyone considering project based learning. If applied to education, this methodology would encourage both students and teachers to look at the world through multiple lens. It would also serve as a primer in design thinking.
When my daughter attended the aforementioned school, we used this framework for our own projects. At her age, we really focused on the "Hear" stage. I thought it was important for her to be able to gather data and have ways of expressing stories.
We will again use this framework when considering TEDxYouthDayVegas, an event I am working to create. I want children to be part of the management and conception of their own event.
While design thinking came easily to the kids, we found it was harder for teachers (in my sample size, which was admittedly small). They got stuck on "Hear" because they thought that validating student ideas undermined authority. They were focused on controlling a classroom and moving through state standards, so they unfortunately viewed this as a huge waste of time.
Part of the problem with project-based schools is that conventionally-trained teachers rarely understand how projects work in the real world, especially creative projects that add corporate value. Often, a school that calls itself "project-based" is simply one that assigns banal show-and-tell projects without ever delving into the mechanisms of an actual project. In addition, they fail to foster the collaborative environment required for projects to work, nor do they have any experience dealing with and mediating the debate of disruptive ideas which push the envelope. The result is that students end up modelling self-evident, trite projects as presented, rather than anything that engages their minds.
What does it all mean? I think there is a tremendous opportunity to build a game-changing school (Design Thinking School). I think IDEO has already written the curriculum. What is missing are educators who can implement it. Personally, I would not hire teachers based on state credentials; instead, I would hire graphic designers, artists, creatives, engineers, hackers, scientists, makers, and like-minded people. There would need to be a radical rethinking of the educational timeline.
I envision this school empowering kids with the field kit to develop their own math program. We present the needs. By the end of the design processes the student body will need to understand the fundamental operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. This will be the focus of the year. The first step would be taking in data, what do these operations mean, why are they important, who are the stake holders. How can knowing this information help us and our community? How are these items taught now? How do we wish they were taught?
Prototype classes. Have the students teach other students addition, what works? What did not work? What materials would have made the classes easier? How could we improve? Should we look at more methodology? Can we write math stories? How do we make math more friendly?
At the end you would have a master presentation to stakeholders (parents/mentors) of math program. Students will explain their own mastery of the operations and how the design process helped motivate their own education. Maybe they take their student designed program to other schools as part of a community tutoring program.
Next year they cover Grammar.