HMW Rethink…* the Classroom for the Imagination Age? Hint: Design Projects, Autonomy, Salience, Imagination & Play

“The future is not a multiple-choice test, it’s a design challenge. So let’s teach our children to think like designers and prepare them to meet the challenges of designing the future.”


Our current educational model was founded upon the increasingly antiquated industrial economy, with the sole purpose of teaching our children to be efficient workers. That this model is no longer tenable in the “conceptual age”, as Daniel Pink has labeled the emerging contours of our new economy—shaped by the forces of automation, outsourcing and abundance—is a popular trope of the education reform movement. Understanding how to move past producing students who are highly skilled at rote memorization and picking between multiple choice answers, to teaching them, instead, how to make wild leaps of imagination, recognize patterns, cross boundaries between various fields and disciplines to uncover new connections and solutions, is of crucial importance—for them, for us and for future generations. How might we rethink…* our educational models, practices and metaphors to better prepare our students for this new world-order characterized by ambiguity, uncertainty, and the ever changing nature of our technologies?

In this short talk from TEDxCreativeCoast, Drew Davies and educator, Jaime McGrath, echo the growing notion (one that we embrace wholeheartedly within our own team) that design thinking provides a meaningful way to prepare our children for the increasingly complex and messy reality that is the 21st century. According to Davies and McGrath, the classroom of, what they term, the “Imagination Age,” will be based on design projects, which, inherently “accommodate all learning styles. By definition, they integrate projects across the curriculum and they’re inherently differentiated for individual student needs, abilities, and interests.” This twelve-minute talk will walk you through the importance of play, design and creative space in preparing our children for a more nuanced and messy reality, while highlighting a series of delightful and intriguing student design projects.

TEDxTalks on YouTube, published June 1, 2012



You see, when you teach young children, you have the opportunity, every day, to draw back the curtain and reveal to them the workings of the world—those gears turning beneath the surface. You see, children are often well versed in the surfaces of things but they’re unaware of their creative origins. And I want to move my students from passive users of things to becoming active creators.

We don’t need students who are highly skilled at picking A, B, C, or D. See, we moved from that industrial age, through the information age and now into the imagination age.

We learn through acts of imagination.

Building, designing, creating—the idea that learning is playing; to create something is to learn something—and that’s why we think that the classroom of the future isn’t going to teach our kids how to memorize, it’s going to teach them how to think creatively, critically, and playfully.

Design and education complement all the best practices in education today. Design projects accommodate all learning styles. By definition, they integrate projects across the curriculum and they’re inherently differentiated for individual student needs, abilities, and interests.

Design projects can happen every day, in every subject, right here, right now.

 Video: “The Future Will Not Be Multiple Choice” {MindShift KQED}

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