Designing the Future

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Traditionally, many students are trained in pattern recognition, learning how to use technical skills to solve problems.  While learning pattern recognition is important, many of the problems seen in today’s digital society are complex, adaptive problems which require a new approach to solving them.

More and more design schools are popping up around the world, bringing with them a new way of thinking about problem solving in the modern age.  Design schools offer students a way to channel their passion and creativity into marketable job skills. However, design teaches students more than just technical skills, it teaches them a whole new way of communicating with their peers and solving problems.  

According to Tom Vander Ark at Getting Smart, design thinking begins with understanding what the problem is and empathizing with the people involved.  Making others feel understood helps connect the team and will encourage collaboration and productivity.

The next step is to clearly define the problem and come up with multiple ideas on how to fix it.  Collaboration and relationship building are huge parts of teaching students how to solve these adaptive problems.

Design thinking then asks students to create prototypes and test them, repeating the process until an effective solution is reached.  Perseverance is found when students have to repeatedly try and fail before they find a successful solution.

Design thinking encourages creativity and allows both students and educators to express themselves.  Vander Ark said that design focused schools have an easier time recruiting and retaining students. It is easy for many students to see the intrinsic value in a design education where they will be able to practice practical job skills, while also developing a thought pattern that will help them in every aspect of their lives.


Story via Getting Smart