Thursday, November 11, 2010

Project H

A story of "public education" and how implementing design education, even in a rural community, energizes and reinvigorates schools (see TedTalk on that topic from post link). From Dr. Martin Rayala's andDesign blog:
"Designer Emily Pilloton moved to rural Bertie County, in North Carolina, to engage in a bold experiment of design-led community transformation. She's teaching a design-build class called Studio H that engages high schoolers' minds and bodies while bringing smart design and new opportunities to the poorest county in the state.
Emily Pilloton and her Project H Design initiative are looking at:
(1) Design For Education - the physical construction of improved materials, spaces, and experiences for students and teachers;
(2) Redesigning Education - a systems level look at how education is administered, what is being offered, and to whom;
and (3) Design As Education - actually teaching design in schools by coupling design thinking with real construction and fabrication skills fulfilling an actual, useful community purpose."
cited: Tuesday, November 9, 2010, http://anddesignmagazine.blogspot.com/

So, in my own little way, I have been encouraging "design thinking" with our current 4th grade project (designing robots, rockets, or translation tessellations) and I have found a recurring issue: students sometimes confuse "design" with "decoration". Even after showing pinboards, having reference books of inventions/rockets/robots, drawing samples, demonstration, and discussions about DESIGNS REFLECTING THEIR FUNCTION. (I put that in caps, not to show frustration, merely emphasis). I know some students have construction/build toys, at least some of them, so this was a surprise for me. Next year, I need to extend the unit by at least two weeks to allow some scaffolding of that concept---that there is a huge difference between "design" and "decoration".

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