Everybody can be somebody
Education to build lives that have meaning and purpose.
After my last post, I deep-dived into the education system. I wanted to understand the trends, the reasons and how it is done today, and also some opinions of design educators.
Through this post, I will talk about the problem and a brief idea of the methodology, I would like to follow for this project.
Taking a systemic view
Figure 01, is my first iteration of the system map. Here I have tried to map out the existing players of the education ecosystem and have made some interconnections. The purpose of this map is to help me see a bigger picture and try to identify wicked problems. Although the system is vast and involves a lot more interconnections, I managed to identify 3 problems:
1. The government policies — directly have a huge impact on the system and hence if we have a top-down approach it might bring a change
2. The system of evaluation — the system of evaluation has its connections to the counselor because grading leads to a competition and not everyone is prepared to participate in one.
3. The current system is divided into boxes, the curriculum is just a bunch of subjects that students are exposed to, they are not interconnected and work in silos.
I intend to refine this map at regular intervals during the course of the project.
Our current education system, built on the Industrial Revolution model, focuses on IQ, in particular memorization and standardization — skills that will be easily and efficiently supplanted by artificial and augmented intelligence (AI), where IQ alone isn’t sufficient. A good blend of IQ (intelligence) + EQ (emotional intelligence) + RQ (resilience) is critical to unleashing a student’s potential. (Our education system is losing relevance. Here’s how to update it, 2021)
This statement clearly represents a gap between what we are taught and what is actually needed by the world.
How can schools be designed to prepare young people for a fast-changing world with increased needs for circular and systems thinking along with skills for a future that will be very different from the industrial age of the past?
Research shows that the top four competencies required for students to approach complex challenges were found to be critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration. (World Economic Forum Report)
This very much validates my assumptions about attaining a balance between art, design, and science, calculus to solve problems.
Coming from India, I feel we still follow the traditional approach of theoretical subjects and quarterly examinations. Most of the creative subjects are present early in the education in the form of ART or pursued separately — out of the school from external tutors depending upon the interest. This was again completely optional and considered as extracurricular/hobbies. In fact, that’s exactly how we mention it in our CV. But is it really a hobby? Why do we need to visit separate tutors for this? Why the separate treatment?
In the Book Creative Schools by Sir Ken Robinson, he mentions that one of the main aims of testing is to increase competition between students, teachers, and schools. In this new environment, students compete with each other, teachers are judged mainly on their student’s test results, and schools and districts go head to head to win resources (Creative schools Pg — 12). From this, we have created a race from benches for students to win. The problem is that not all want to, need to, or are rather prepared for that race. This sometimes leads to a loss of confidence and affects self-esteem. In the journey of competing, children often lose their sense of identity and their talents or interests.
So, given that every child has their own interests and talents, why do we all have to go through the default set of subjects? What happens to non-academic students?
When our communities require a diversity of talents, how do we achieve them?
Is evaluation the best means to motivate students to study? Does it help the students or the school?
All of this boils down to the question of how are modern schools building knowledge and capacity for the children, or are they just reinforcing the same old industrial model which was designed to prepare the workforce.? And how will this knowledge help the children who have to deal with a future that is constantly changing and riddled with complex problems?
Study to build your CV
Most of the education focuses upon a career goal. Obviously, our parents want the best for us and want to see us independent and successful and so do our teachers and the school. So we participate in this race to achieve success. Now we have various means or rather agencies apart from schools that also help in this journey of career-building — “career councilors”. But my problem is that how can they help when you yourself haven’t found your interest yet?
It's like dividing the education system into boxes of career roles and then helping the students chose one rather than letting the students identify or discover their own role. And between all of this how do we encourage innovation or entrepreneurs?
60% of future jobs haven’t been developed yet and 40% of nursery-age children (kindergarteners) in schools today will need to be self-employed to have any form of income. (Our education system is losing relevance. Here’s how to update it, 2021)
This indicates that there is a clear gap between skills learned in schools and the demand for job opportunities.
The rising need
In reality, most of the things we learn in life come from the act of living — we learn through experiences while interacting with the outside world.
This means that we are in clear need to redesign the system that incorporates the thinking of the future and outbreaks the linear and dominant model of today. To accommodate this we need creative and cultural education that can motivate students to think outside of the boxes, look at problems and identify opportunities. Creativity helps children find what they are good at and help them embrace it. To address this there is a need to blend academics and creativity to raise academic standards. This process will raise self-confidence and self-esteem leading to the rise of the overall performance of children.
“Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up”- Pablo Picasso.
How do we encourage creativity?
It is very simple. It’s an inbuilt talent, everyone is born with the only problem is that you lose it with time. Our job is to ensure that we build upon children’s current skills and understandings and expand this by providing new opportunities that can develop their attitudes, skills, and knowledge across a broad range of experiences. This will require educators to tweak their current teaching methods and processes and adopt a more creative approach to teach the same subjects which will lead to better engagement and make the topics more relatable especially for the students who struggle with academics.
As a designer, this is where I would like to step in. I would like to understand and explore various ways of creative learning and how we can tie it into the current education system.
What if there was no separation between Creative and academic subjects
What if learning was made more project-based rather than knowledge-based
What if teachers could learn new ways of teaching that could make education more informal and less competitive
What if we inculcate learning through collaboration by sharing knowledge and experiences
One important thing I have learned from my design journey and past projects is collaborating with stakeholders and learning through failing. Learning through collaboration not only brought efficiency but also made the process fun and interesting. I realized that there are many ways you can look at collaborating- one is obviously the knowledge and experience you gain through project work and on a personal level it made me patient, understanding, a good listener, and most importantly, taught me some team management skills.
If you want to go fast, go alone… If you want to go far, go together — African Proverb
Failing always meant that there is a better answer to this problem and motivated me to go find it. In my current program, where I have interacted with diverse people, I have understood the importance of culture and collaboration. Building trust and sharing knowledge is a skill that comes in handy while problem-solving and the world has far too many problems to be solved.
So how do we equip the young generation with these skills?
“All of us do not have equal talent, but all of us should have an equal opportunity to develop those talents.” — US president John F. Kennedy in 1963
I would like to take a human-centered design approach using the double diamond structure to plan out my project. However, I would like to use Research Through Design as an approach for my discovery phase since I plan for co-design workshops with important stakeholders of the project which will help me gain a better understanding of the system and areas of opportunities.
Why RTD- because it is the process of continuous ideation, prototyping, and testing while researching and improvising. It will be important to interact and co-design at the early stage of the project to do critical thinking. I feel RTD as an approach fits in best as its flexible structure would help me identify problems and test solutions at various stages leaving room for iterations and redefining the concepts.
I would like to focus upon the 3 key elements during my design process
- Co-design workshops — I believe that workshopping will help me see the bigger picture and also build trust with the stakeholders.
- Rapid prototyping and Gorilla testing — Since I want to use RTD at the initial stages, I would like to build quick prototypes/concepts and show them to stakeholders to get their views and opinions.
- Testing to evidence the impact — From my initial research, I gathered that Creative learning or creative education is not a new topic, in fact, a lot of conversations, development, and improvements have already started to happen in this area. I would like to use this opportunity in my favor. How — I would like to thoroughly test my concepts with various stakeholders and try to demonstrate the evidence or
I would also like to approach this subject from the perspective of Indian education where the current education system is still traditional, encouraging the students to be glued to their seats for hours in schools followed by extra tuition at home.
Potential topics I would like to explore under education
Learning through collaboration/ buddy system
Throughout my school, I have done individual studies followed by tests. The projects also were largely individual so much so that finding resources was also a competition. But, when I started to work, I was given teams, I was asked to collaborate and share and trust my team members. This took time for me, time to open up, to divide the work, and trust your colleagues that it will be done. But with collaboration came efficiency and I realized that a lot of learning happens when you collaborate because it's a process of continuous sharing and explaining. It not only builds stronger relationships with your team but also gives you a chance to choose work according to your interest, build upon each other strengths and weaknesses, and also provide feedback for improvements.
Changing the approach from Knowledge-based to problem-based learning
Problem-solving is now a key skill in education. Developing young people’s abilities to solve problems is fundamental to preparing them for an independent life. Creative education can contribute directly to problem-solving abilities in all disciplines and fields of work. (2021)
New teaching models
Teachers can adapt new models of teaching the same subjects creatively. It could be storytelling, problem-solving, or role-playing. The crux is that every child learns things differently and teachers need to be equipped enough to apply them as and when the need arises.
Through this project, I intend to explore the realms of creative learning and some new teaching models. I plan to interact with some design educators, teachers, parents, and children to identify gaps and pockets of opportunities in the existing system. Since it’s an individual project, it is time to implement all of my learning from the program and reflect upon some of the mistakes. Education is a vast system and as a designer, I would like to create a simple solution because by creating something simple, you create opportunities.
Stay tuned for more posts on the progress of my project and some of my learnings.
Sirkenrobinson.com. 2021. [online] Available at: <http://sirkenrobinson.com/pdf/allourfutures.pdf> [Accessed 11 June 2021].
Interview, T., 2021. Sir Ken Robinson (still) wants an education revolution. [online] Ted.com. Available at: <https://www.ted.com/talks/the_ted_interview_sir_ken_robinson_still_wants_an_education_revolution> [Accessed 11 June 2021].
Book — Creative Schools by Ken Robinson.