Fostering New Thought Processes

Lakshmi VishwanathanBy Lakshmi Vishwanathan, Next Education India Pvt Ltd

The purpose of education is not just grooming students to score high marks, but to create strong individuals and professionals who will be eligible to contribute to the corporate world. The effort to groom them for a successful rewarding career and to shape them into capable individuals starts at the time of their schooling.
Design thinking is all about having an inter-disciplinary approach to create able individuals who can make complex decisions in the future. This is to make students think on many planes and look at an issue from various angles. When they grow up to be opinion-makers or leaders in the society, they will be confident individuals capable of making decisions.

Design teaching specifically helps students in delving into unknown academic and scientific arena with élan and to test hypothesis effectively


Design process phases
There are three phases in the design process: Discover, Design and Deliver. A student first discovers the possibility to explore a new concept. Then designs a plan along with the team members and decides to use the most suitable tool to learn the concept. Later, the team delivers a model which shows the concept in action.
In a nutshell, schools are gradually beginning to realise that it is time to make education updated and relevant to the 21st century. So, pioneer schools in India today are fast implementing something called ‘investigative learning’ where students discover concepts by themselves across disciplines through problem-solving exercises, projects, and team-building activities. Some rojects aim to take students through the entire design-thinking process.
Hands-on activities are a good way to develop creative thinking and experience concepts learnt in a textbook first hand. Primary school children are being introduced to education in a holistic way where they learn basic concepts like phonetics, counting, colours and science in a story-telling format and through simple experiments.
Design teaching helps students specifically in delving into unknown academic and scientific arena with élan and to test hypothesis effectively. It also develops life skills and EQ because students learn through hands-on experience that requires him or her to work in a team. Educationists and child care experts find that these exercises help students develop empathy, curiosity and ability to think out of the box.
They also help develop openness and flexibility of ideas. After all, in a corporate environment one needs to adapt to the changing dynamics at the workplace and the external market spaces.

Inter-changing roles
What is most interesting about this new mode of education is that design teaching and experiential education interchange the role of a teacher and a student. In such a system and learning environment there is no way a teacher can design a predictable teaching plan. He/She has to be willing go with the flow and in effect, she becomes an active learner too.
Teachers experiment together with their students, reflecting upon the learning activities they have designed, and responding to their students’ reactions to the activities. In this way, teachers themselves become more active; they come to view themselves as more than just recipients of school district policy and curriculum decisions.
Do you think school teachers in the Indian context are ready for this change? Will school management embrace and support this change? Although India has hopped onto the contemporary learning bandwagon, it remains to be seen if it is sustainable in a country where education system still demands high marks, and where ‘A’ grades are on the priority list.