While the maker and design thinking activities were excellent, the highlight for me was our field trip to Ponce City Market. In my recent post, #ILOVEMYSCHOOL I mentioned that one of our strategic questions is, “How might we empower all learners to be seekers and explorers?”.
Once we arrived at the market we split up into two groups but people were free to go wherever the wanted. The time together helped us build relationships and we had FUN. Not exactly what most people are used to during an orientations session.
Let’s see what comes of trips like this. Who knows how it may transfer to our students.
This summer I have had three amazing learning experiences that were each very different, yet they connect to our mission at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School. Here is my first pass at a brief overview of the takeaways.
Using the local environment for learning – Right from the start we were working with John Weiss from Human Design to consult on their Social Action Machine Project. Starting out on a non-educational project was the perfect way to get the creative juices flowing. This was also a reminder that we need to search for projects for our students that are outside the realm of our walls.
Baking human into everything you do. John Weiss
Project-based learning – Nicole Martin and I joined the Integrating Disciplines Through Real-World Learning session. We were immediately put on a bus and traveled to visit the site of a 6th grade project that involved ecology, economics, government, sociology and many other disciplines. After the group listed their community problems Nicole and I latched on to transportation and traffic in our area. More to come later on our ideas for a schoolwide project on this problem.
Disciplines legitimize each other.
Entrepreneurship – We learned about Startup Weekend, a program for teenagers that is held in cities around the country. Our task was to study the organic food market and pitch a start up. The highlight was our visit to a Whole Foods. We observed and interviewed shoppers in the store. We got a taste of immersing ourselves in the research and empathy process.
The best part of the entire experience was learning the DEEPDT process while working with Refuge Coffee. Refuge is an amazing social business that strives to create community for Clarkston residents. In doing so the company also allows for newly immigrated refugees to earn a living wage and develop skills, including English language. Clarkston has the reputation for being the most diverse square mile in the world. The learning was fantastic and the relationships that we built with the Refuge team were moving.
Imagine a network of educators and organizations that is focused on transforming education by creating a new paradigm. This is what Education Reimagined is trying to do by organizing educators from around the country to participate in their Pioneer Labs. I was invited to attend the second session of training to prepare for a September gathering. The learning was two fold:
Education Reimagined has created a vision, a new paradigm, for the for the future of education that is Learner Centered and the five elements are listed below.
The second piece of learning was around the change process. It’s fascinating to understand how extremely difficult it is for people to move from one paradigm to another. The most telling example was how medical professionals believed, for 2000 years, that bloodletting was the only way to cure diseases. It took new scientific knowledge and extensive research for medical professionals to shift this paradigm.
Today while reading Thomas Friedman’s post entitled, Clinton’s Fibs, and Her Opponents’ Double Whoppers, I was struck by an assignment for students to tackle. While I respect Mr. Friedman, the idea came from one of the 488 comments that the article generated. The majority of the commenters were either in favor or against Friedman’s position.
It was Clement Kwong’s comment that really challenged me.
“That point is – it’s not about Trump or his obvious fallacies. The outrage and indignation at his comments should not be directed through media channels that are currently being used to do so, nor in the form (your article exemplary thereof) that these reactions are being communicated. To have any significant impact on Trump’s supporters, any message revealing his lies, idiocy, mean-ness, ignorance should be sent through channels which reach such supporters and in a form which can appeal to their social attitudes, language ability and literacy, preferably without demeaning their social status.
That language that you write in, this newspaper you express yourself in, even the complexity of the ideas, however warranted, in the message that is this article completely miss the mark. In this paper, you largely preach to the converted, as a Catholic priest might have done so in Latin in the medieval era.
Wake up. Find a way to say you want to say to the people who should hear this message. This is not it.”
There seems to be quite a bit of shouting going on in politics right now and most of the arguments are missing the mark with opponents. Since working at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School I’ve learned a ton about design thinking and the importance of using empathy in the process. The design thinking process can be very effective when teaching students to craft arguments that are targeted to a certain audience. Instead of totally disregarding the opponent, what if we taught them to study them to learn more about what is important to them? Through the DEEP DT process, students can produce more effective means of communication to sway their audience.
I can imagine how powerful the interviews that students will conduct will be. They will truly gain a better understanding of the other person’s views and then tailor their argument based on this knowledge.
As a school of “inquiry, innovation and impact” Mount Vernon Presbyterian School prides itself on connecting students with as many community multipliers as possible. (One of my past posts lists just a few of the individuals who have met with our students this year alone). The community was introduced the Multiplier concept earlier this year by our Head of School Dr. Brett Jacobsen and this past week, Trey Boden, arranged for Kitti Murray to speak at our weekly chapel.
Kitti’s not-for profit venture, Refuge Coffee is working to meet the needs of the Clarkston, GA community. CNN has called Clarkston the “most diverse square mile in the United States.” This diversity stems from the nearly 2,000 refugees who join every year. The Mount Vernon Presbyterian Upper School students heard her story, along with stories of refugees who have settled in Clarkston. Kitti took it upon herself to start a mobile coffee shop that provides Clarkston residents with a place to gather, socialize and have a cup of coffee during the week. The coffee truck allows the team to generate income by contracting out their services to corporations and individuals. These outside “gigs” allow them to discount their prices for members of the Clarkston community. The business also serves as a training ground for residents who want to work and develop skills in the food and restaurant industry. Check out The CREATE REFUGE CAMPAIGN from Kitti Murray on Vimeo.
By connecting our students with so many different multipliers, we hope to stimulate their curiosity and explore possibilities for making an impact in their worlds. Our hope is that there are 50 – 100 future multipliers, like Kitti Murray, in our student body who are just waiting to take action.
School Principal at Graded I helped get our Makerspace up and running. I’ve built scribble bots and used conductive paint to create light-up cards and seen kids tinker with circuits, magnets, 3D printing and programming. I’m also fascinated how drones can be used in learning.
At Mount Vernon our Hive is about to open and TJ Edwards has been working with Parker Thomas to develop a Maker curriculum that all of our students will take advantage of in the near future. TJ has also written about making a maker community.
Sadly I have enjoyed watching others tinker and make more that actually doing it myself. I have also been questioning how the Maker Movement fits in with subjects other than math and science. Well, on Thursday night I was actually hooked, engaged and fired up about creating a personal brand. Wait, how does a personal brand fit with the maker movement? The design exercise incorporated a tool that allows you to make vinyl stickers. Now I had seen kids creating stickers around campus but I had no idea how COOL it actually would be.
Here’s how the two hour session, including dinner, was organized.
We answered the following questions on sticky notes and these answers would later be used to help us develop our personal brand.
Today a small group of us were able to experience a 1 hour workshop from the d.school on design thinking. If you’re interested in a primer on design thinking, this is the one for you. It’s so easy to organize because you just need the video, a partner and some materials to use for prototyping.
Today’s group experienced the following:
The pace is fast which is just part of the process. This workshop is an abbreviated process but in general, the pace is fast when you’re designing.
You have to really learn about your partner during the process. You’re forced to study his/her process for giving gifts and learning as much about them and the process in a very short amount of time. At one point the facilitators tell you that the session should get emotional and people may cry.
Prototyping can be quick and dirty and you need to share unfinished work to test out your solution. It’s somewhat strange to build a 3D item that shows a process.
The process does lead you to test something and then make revisions. In this workshop you just don’t have much time to revise.
You can really become engaged quickly when your working on a design challenge.
I see many ways that our organization can use these principles when we are looking for solutions. There is less talk and more doing and testing out concepts and you’re really focused on the users. I’m looking forward to finishing up the our trip project and starting something new.