Design Thinking and 21st-Century Skills

January 20, 2010 1 min read

Over at Public School Insights, Claus von Zastrow has an interesting interview with technology and design guru David Kelley related to 21st-century skills.

Kelley, a professor at Stanford’s Institute of Design and founder of the design company IDEO, is working to push more design principles into K-12 education as a way of engaging students, creating environments that inspire learning, enhancing instruction, and bringing relevance to the curriculum. My story in a recent issue of Education Week Digital Directions touched on some of these design ideas.

The push for 21st-century skills has fueled a pretty vigorous debate in the field, as Stephen Sawchuk described in this Edweek piece. Kelley describes design thinking as closely aligned with 21st-century skills, so his ideas might not win universal acceptance. But he says that teachers are generally accepting of the concept, just skeptical of its practical application in the classroom.

“When you talk to teachers, they tell you, ‘I love your ideas and it was a great workshop, but I don’t have a minute to put this in my curriculum,’” he tells von Zastrow. “So I think that the thing to do in K-12 to get design thinking in the curriculum is to find little ways, little cracks in the system to put it in. Put it in after school. Put it in the way kids do their homework.”

Once schools see how it can work in those areas, he adds, they can start to see its value. Does he make a good case?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.