Y'all Ready for This? (Part 4)

Design thinking is the new project-based learning... and it's in the curriculum!

Yes, ‘Design Thinking’ is now officially a real thing for every student, in every school, in all stages of learning.

So to all of those outstanding and successful PBL teachers/believers out there  you now have an even bigger reason/excuse/justification to keep on doing what you love doing. Great news for those happy campers!

But what about the rest of us mere mortals who are yet to dip our toe into the dark and mysterious waters of teaching this Design Thinking. No one likes to be pushed into something... even if it's mandated by the curriculum.

When I ask teachers 'what does the term Design Thinking mean to you?' they give a wide range of answers from "fashion" to "inventions" to "coding". Older teachers often think back to the 'design and make' from the old blue Science syllabus or TAS subjects in high school. Younger teachers often say 'it's to do with digital technology' (eg "robotics" and "programming").

All of the above are essentially correct. But there's more to it... much more...

The steps used in the Design Thinking process are to be explicitly taught to all students.

"Design thinking is the thought process involved in understanding and developing solutions to design needs and opportunities."
(NSW Science & Technology K-6 Syllabus, 2018)


2. Authentic PROJECTS
All students are expected to participate in real-world projects where they get to solve real-world problems and actually implement their solutions.

“Design and Technologies involves design thinking and the explicit use of design processes to develop and produce designed solutions for an identified user and purpose usually to fulfil some practical purpose in the wider world.”
(The Australian Curriculum)


3. Collaborative PROBLEM SOLVING
This means students are taught how to solve unstructured (open-ended) problems working in collaboration with other students.

“Australia needs enterprising individuals who can make discerning decisions about the development and use of technologies and who can collaboratively develop solutions to complex challenges.” 
(The Australian Curriculum)


Yep, "project management" is now a real thing for all 5-15 year olds!

“The Design and Technologies curriculum also focuses on project management. Students are explicitly taught how to manage projects and apply this knowledge in their projects.” 
(The Australian Curriculum)

But there's even more...

For me, Design Thinking is not only a subject that teaches specific skills which students will utilise in Science-related and Technologies subjects. It is a life skill that our young people can use in any learning area at school, in any situation outside of school, and in any job or business beyond school. 

For that reason I call Design Thinking the "8th General Capability".

James Phelps


If you would like to dive into Design Thinking, without feeling like you're being pushed, Minds Wide Open can equip you with the pedagogy, teaching tools and classroom resources to make your first experience easy and enjoyable. We will give you the ‘floaties’ so that you don’t sink when you dive in back at your school!

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