K-12 Spaces

What’s Up With All the Design-Focused Schools?

Article By: Tom Vander Ark

"Design thinking, a mindset and methodology popularized by Stanford’s d.School,  starts with understanding the problem, that includes building empathy and understanding of the people involved –a combination of research skills and a way of thinking. Once the problem is identified, an iterative approach to solution development follows; prototypes are tested and refined."

"Schools that embrace design as a core aspect of their model are finding success not only in student outcomes but also in recruiting and keeping exceptional educators. Why? Because design unleashes the creative potential in each student and taps into the passions of educators they may or may not even realize they have."

The growing number of design-based schools exhibit three trends:

  • Integration over isolation. Not limited to a makerspace, leading schools incorporate design thinking across the curriculum.
  • Extended challenges around big issues. Students work in extended challenges that address global goals. Teachers ask students to work on problems with no answers.
  • Supported by skill building. Leading schools support design by teaching research strategies, prototyping skills, and project management (see HQPBL).
Maegan Slowakiewicz