Rhizomes, Design Thinking, and Learning

This week has been a true learning curve for me.  And I say that after 26 years in the classroom.  I still have much to learn.

Extraordinaires Design Characters Banner (1)

We began the week by finishing up our design sprint using the Extraordinaires Design Studio.  Students completed a run-through of the Design Thinking (DT) cycle and sketched a potential solution.  This wasn’t something new to me.  I’d done it before (see this lesson plan), but in different contexts, and with different audiences.  So I felt confident going in.

Oh!  Confidence.  You cruel mistress.  I skipped some key context building and, while I did model the process, I didn’t check for total understanding.  So, in the end, the student feedback on the process that DT define, and this activity in general was less than stellar.

Design Thinking Process--IDEO

That’s troubling as DT is one of the cornerstones of NOVA Lab.  The way I’ve envisioned the class relies on DT as a methodology for problem finding and solving.  that means that the students have to understand the mindset of DT and employ it.

But let’s say that the failure here is mine.  I’m mired in self-doubt and perhaps the notion that this was a failure is mostly mine.  What’s more important is where we go from here, and how.

rhizomatic-learningI’ve been doing a great deal of reading over the past few weeks on Co-Authoring and Co-Designing classes with students.  The impacts of providing such agency are not only tangible, the method itself is forwarded by numerous recent studies.  David Cormier’s work with “rhizomatic learning”  is foundational in the kind of self-determined, heutagogy I’m after.  Further, the work of these designers in bringing a designerly mindset to the act of learning of teaching certainly reveals an affinity between rhizomatic learning and the methodologies of DT.  In the end, the work of Doris Wells-Papanek and Luigi Pecoraro tie both these structures together through a use of a design-inspired managerial system for learning.

Design squiggle to project--creative processThus, while my students and I may be mired in the squiggled middle of the design process, we cannot forget that the ends we are designing for necessitate a “messy middle.”  While we/I may have a definite “north star” for the class, the journey that gets us there is not clear, set, or definitive.  Like a hero’s journey, we have numerous trials to overcome before we realize the potential each of us possesses.

And that is as it should be.

Trust the process.

Published by Garreth Heidt

Designerly Minded High School Humanities and Liberal Studies Teacher Faculty Mentor FIRST Robotics Team #7414--PV Retrobotics. Constantly learning, trying to be more a maker and less a consumer of culture. I believe in the infinite value of a liberal education and the power of design thinking to help make the world a better place.

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