Thinking, Doing, Being

The three words in the title above have become a kind of mantra for me.  (Indeed, they are part of this very website’s by-line.)  I first put them together in a paper arguing for design-based learning as one of the best ways to fulfill the full promise of American public education.  The progression I intended at first was that thinking led to action which in turn is the essence of human being (homo faber leads to homo sapiens sapiens), but the progression now seems forced to me.  It suggests a linearity where one does not exist.

Instead, what seems more likely is that these three states are part of our organic nature, part of the growth cycle that is our maturation.  In just over a week I’ll be starting a club that will offer me the chance to delve more deeply into this hypothesis.

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On November 30, along with a cadre of high-school students and a group of willing middle school students, I will embark on the creation of an Extraordinaires Design Thinking Club.

My first exposure to The Extraordinaires Design simulation was when I stumbled upon the “Design Studio Pro” version at my local Barnes and Noble store.  I knew immediately that would be the gift I sought for my birthday.  Luckily my family understands my intense belief in design as a heuristic; a few weeks later the I was opening the box.

Between March and September of this year, my family played with the set, sometimes merely sketching out ideas, and other times actually building out prototypes.  But the true power of this game didn’t hit me until I introduced it to the students in my high-school Design Thinking course.  There, my students dove so deeply into the Extraordinaire characters you would have thought they’d read entire books on their characters.  Such was not the case.  We simply began our exploration of the Extraordinaires character cards by grouping up, making individual observations, and then sharing these observations.

And the results were phenomenal.

A few blogged reflections from a few of my students, and a quick e-mail to “The Creativity Hub” (the makers of the game) and the next thing I knew I was Skyping with Rory O’Connor (one of the co-creators of the game) and John Fiore, the educational consultant working with the company.  Within an hour we’d negotiated a deal that Perkiomen Valley Middle School East would be one of the prototyping sites in the USA for a new, Design Thinking Club with “The Extraordinaires Design Studio” at its heart.

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This club starts in about 10 days, and while I know it will be more work, I also know the rewards that come from introducing young students to Design Thinking.  Eighteen Design Studio Deluxe kits showed up at my classroom door a few weeks ago, and I’ve been itching to get them into the hands of budding designers.  In just four days, we’ve already filled half the spots available for the club.  With the help of a few high school students from my Design Thinking course, I know we’ll find success in short measure, such is the beauty of the project/product.

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