Laura K Spencer, Ed.D.

A colleague asked me for resources on flexible learning spaces. Her goal is for 6th students to use the Design Thinking mindset to redesign their own classroom. Because we know it’s not just about cool chairs and bright walls, it’s important that students and the teacher understand the WHY behind the decisions being made.

Luckily, Twitter hashtag #learningspaces has a treasure trove of resources for teachers looking for a place to start. And attending CUE BOLD in May also provided me with access to amazing presenters and ideas around classroom environment.

So here is the list of resources I curated for the students, in case it helps any of you:

Tips for Designing Amazing Learning Spaces with Dr. Robert Dillon
And here’s a visual for that YouTube video.

Edutopia article showcasing some flexible K-8 classrooms.

Video Series on the book The Space by Dr. Robert Dillon and Rebecca Hare

This tweet may be good to spark a deeper conversation questioning why we need so many desks/chairs/etc in the room.

12 Ways to Upgrade Your Classroom Design takes ideas from The Space and presents them in an easy to read blog post.

Consider adding a Peace Corner to provide quiet spaces for reflection and emotional centering.

Designing Brain Friendly Spaces by Dr. Robert Dillon is a short article with some targeted questions to ask while considering how space is used.

CUE BOLD has made all the presentation slides available for those wanting to learn more. There are quite a few on learning spaces that are worth checking out. Look for Rebecca Hare, Michael Morrison, and Michelle Ho & Danielle Roja for relevant links.

And of course, as you consider all this, please keep in mind that Pinterest is awesome for beautiful wedding decor, scrumptious recipes, and creative Outfits of the Day, but Pinterest-designed classrooms don’t always meet the needs of the learners (and they’re expensive to create!). My original blog post on that topic is still one of my most popular ones.

Please let me know in the comments what else should be added to this list.

 

And hey, if this post made you smile, or think deeply for a moment, or just scratch your head and go HMM… then share it with a friend. Or two. And subscribe to keep the posts coming!

Pickle Hives and Design Thinking

“Babe, I was eating a pickle and it made my feet break out in hives!”

Not quite the greeting I was looking for after an exhausting 14 hour day of work, evening teaching, and traffic, but that’s what welcomed me at home. And sure enough there were giant welts all over his feet.

“Pickles did not give you hives. That’s crazy. You sure you didn’t get bit by an army of baby spiders or something?”

And so it began… the back and forth over the cause, and solution, for the sudden hives.

But I’ll get back to that story in a minute. Because this post is actually about problems. And HMW (How Might We) questions. And goals.

Our leadership team has been digging into culture, and the purpose of school, for a couple years now. Last year was the official first year of our five year plan to transform from a 20th century model of knowledge delivery and compliance to an extraordinary school experience that values the student and his/her inner genius. It was a year filled with first attempts, discoveries, and questions. All of those brought learnings and wonders and even more questions. And through those experiences, we developed a common vision and understanding of the WHY of our five year plan.

While setting the stage for this school year with the superintendent and assistant superintendent, we realized that, in order for the leadership team to dig deeper into the WHAT and the HOW of the plan, the 20th century model of setting goals and yearlong action plans in August wasn’t going to work. That model is based on the premise that the person setting the goals knows the path that needs to be taken, has an understanding of how to reach the destination, and can do so by an arbitrary deadline. Instead, our goal setting process needed to support our learning journey.

After reflecting on the vision of our plan, the purpose of setting goals, and the monumental work that lay ahead of us, we realized this year’s goals needed to center around identifying, understanding, and addressing a problem that was impeding the district vision.

So together, our leadership team identified problems. Some were instructional in nature, while others identified outdated or cumbersome systems and structures that stifled innovative actions.

Once everyone articulated a problem connected to their site and/or department, time was spent developing a HMW statement to begin understanding the problem more deeply. We shared our articulations with each other for feedback, pushback, and refinement.

And then some of us started identifying a problem with our problems.

Turns out, our HMWs had personal hunches embedded within them which was inadvertently skewing them into solution questions instead of problem probing questions. Here’s an example*:

Problem: Lack of student engagement during writing instruction.

HMW: How might teachers provide students with personalized topic choices so as to increase student engagement during writing instruction?

See the hunch?  How do we know personalization is the key to increase the engagement of these identified students? We don’t. It’s a hunch. And that hunch can take us down a road of creating solutions to the wrong problem. Because in reality, personalized topic choices are a potential solution. They could show up on a post-it while ideating. But they shouldn’t have a home in our question.

Once we realized our preconceived solutions sneaking into the problem statement, we pushed more on the problem and the HMW and a second version emerged:

Problem: The Principal has observed a lack of student engagement during writing instruction for a group of 4th grade students.

HMW:How might 4th grade teachers create engaging learning opportunities within the teaching of writing so as to increase students’ active involvement in the writing process?

Now we’re getting somewhere. This question requires empathy-building with the end-user, aka 4th grade students, so as to figure out what may be causing their disengagement. Boredom? Too hard? Too easy? Language barriers? Personal issues? Something else? This version is not based on a hunch, but on a desire to understand and respond accordingly.

This goal-setting approach models a learning-centered culture. One not built on hunches. But on a design thinking mindset, which is pretty darn exciting!

mindset

As for John, we learned, after doing some good ol’ Google research, there actually IS such a thing as pickle hives, although it’s technically an allergy to a preservative used in some pickling methods. So maybe his hunch was correct after all. And maybe I should have stayed in the problem space with him a bit instead of jumping to my own conclusion.

(Although I have to say, I think an army of baby spiders is a much cooler end to his story than 2 Benadryls and some calamine lotion…)

*Not a real problem shared during our collaboration, but used here to illustrate what I was trying to say.

You know what’d make me happy? If you shared the link to this post with two friends. I’d be super happy if one of those two subscribed to my posts. Learning together is way more fun than learning on my own.

Being as my role includes the words “innovation” and “design,” I often talk to parents about shifts in educational practice, and why they are happening. Our district is elementary only, so some parents naturally worry about what will happen to their children after they leave an innovative elementary experience.

The question usually goes something like this:

Are my children going to be prepared for a traditional ______
(middle school, high school, college) experience?

It made me think about my own children, and what I prepared them for, and how I prepared them. I knew there’d be a time when both my girls would have their hearts broken by a love interest. But never did I think to myself, “Perhaps I should break their heart fnow so they are prepared for this moment.”

Instead, I focus on building confidence and independence in my daughters. I model resilience by being open about my own disappointing life experiences. I share books, articles, movies, and songs with positive life messages. And above all else, I encourage open dialogue with them so they see me as a source of support, and not fear.

I didn’t need to break their hearts to prepare them for heartbreak. They have each experienced the woes of teenage angst, and unreturned love, and came out a stronger, more determined woman.

Likewise, I don’t feel children need to be prepared for traditional school experiences by mimicking those experiences. Instead, children should be taught the skills they will need to thrive and find success regardless of the situation in which they are placed. If they learn critical problem finding and solving skills; how to collaborate with a team, even if the team is less than ideal; ways to empathize with others; and how to engage in creative thought and process they will be equipped with the skills to not only get them through the outdated, err traditional, school experience, but they’ll also have the skills to be successful in life.

I suggest we help parents instead pose the question:

Are my children going to be equipped with skills needed for a successful life,
regardless of their _____ (middle school, high school, college) experience?

 

Has It Only Been a Year?

To culminate the school year, my Innovation and Design team published a blog post reflecting on all that we accomplished, and more importantly, all that we LEARNED, this past school year.

It’s crazy to think we’ve only been working together for one school year, and yet in that time, we co-planned with classroom teachers to create 65 design thinking units. There were other design thinking opportunities provided to students that we weren’t directly involved in, too.

Below is an excerpt from that reflection. I share it here because I think the learnings are universal to many. You can view the original blog post as well, which also includes a fun infographic.

*****

When people think and act like a designer, they must be able to see not just what is, but what might be (Berger, Cad Monkeys). The design thinking opportunities teachers facilitated for students this year truly exposed students to what might be by helping students discover their inner genius, and then empowering students to use that genius to advance the world. We watched in awe as students demonstrated sincere empathy and felt a call to action within, and outside of, design thinking experiences. We felt joy when watching the faces of teachers as they saw their students demonstrate their passion for learning. And we enjoyed seeing those proud parents listen to their children present their prototype solutions at packed exhibitions!

And we learned a lot, too! We learned…
– how important it is to always start with why and to know the priorities. When people understand the why and have an opportunity to be a voice in building the how and what, there is a greater success in change efforts.
– that every site and teacher, just like every student, has unique qualities requiring a customized approach to integrate design thinking experiences.
– connecting with industry experts to not only dive deeper into the content standards and relevant application to careers today, but to provide high-quality feedback on student thinking, exponentially increases student learning. And that expeditionary partnerships with local organizations is truly a game changer that leads to extraordinary experiences for students!
– a constant feedback loop is important from all stakeholders. Feedback, or better yet, feedforward, is an art form, and we are all working towards being master artists.
– our beliefs and experiences inform our actions. It is critical to give people an opportunity to experience something new for themselves so that they are empowered to contribute to leading change initiatives.

DMUSD Innovation & Design Team

DMUSD Innovation & Design Team

 

Today I was honored to give a speech at a 6th grade promotion ceremony.

I will admit, I was scared to give a speech. I mean, I give presentations all the time. I consider myself really good at it (like, really!). But a speech? I don’t do speeches. So I struggled for about a week to come up with something to say. Luckily, I was speaking at a school that had embraced design thinking this year. In fact, that was what I was asked to speak to… easy, right?

So after procrastinating for a week, I finally wrote it yesterday. I’ll admit to finding inspiration in the pages of Cad Monkeys by Warren Berger. (Thanks, Warren!) I decided to share it here, as I think there are a couple decent nuggets inside.

*****

Good morning everyone and welcome to today’s event. I’m honored to have been invited to speak on what I know is a very special day for both the students and families here today. My name is Dr. Laura Spencer. I am the Executive Director of Innovation and Design for the Del Mar Union School District. Basically, I have the coolest job in the district because my role is to work with your awesome teachers, as well as students like yourselves, to create opportunities that ignite the personal, inner genius of students and empower them to advance our world.

This year, as part of District Design 2022, 6th graders started using the principles of Design Thinking to find ways to make a difference in their classroom, on their campus, and in the world. Design Thinking is a human-centered approach to solving complex problems. It uses empathy and creativity to find innovative solutions.

In fact, this entire promotion ceremony is the result of a design thinking challenge to rethink how promotion can better meet the needs of the people here. Let’s give our students a hand for all their hard work organizing this special day…

To the 6th graders, I challenge you to think and act like a designer always. Designers must be able to see not just what is, but what might be. It’s about looking for opportunities to make positive change. To advance our world. And the best part is that you don’t have to wait for adulthood to get started. You can start making positive change today. Find opportunities throughout middle and high school. And don’t stop there. Keep using your inner genius to advance the world!

Think with empathy. Don’t presume to know what’s going on in someone else’s head. Get to know people. Understand them. Discover what makes them unique. Learn about their challenges. In doing so, you’ll also learn more about yourself.

When you practice empathy, you’ll find problems in need of solutions. We’ve got large problems and challenges in the world, but there are answers, too. They’re all around you. Don’t be afraid to look. It doesn’t matter how old you are.

Remember, your first idea is not always the best idea. Brainstorm! Wild and crazy ideas are sometimes the ones that take flight. Just think, when the adults here were kids, we were told to never get in a car with a stranger. Stranger danger was real. Now we use Uber or Lyft on our phone to ask strangers in cars to pick us up and bring us places. So never be afraid to chase after that crazy idea! (But hey, don’t get in cars with strangers!!)

And remember, prototypes are meant to be rough at first. You won’t always get things right the first time. In fact, you’ll probably get it wrong more often than you’ll get it right, so keep building and seeking out feedback. Doesn’t matter if it’s a crazy complex math problem or a video game you’re designing. Keep refining that prototype until you get it figured out. Ask for help.

Above all else, be human-centered in all you do.

So congratulations to the almost 7th graders, congratulations to the families, and finally, congrats to the teachers and everyone else who supported our students along their journey.

I’ll leave you with this final quote, from a great author with whom I imagine you are all familiar, by the name of Dr. Seuss.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

 

 

In August, Dr. McClurg challenged all of us to begin a journey from the tame to the wild, and as evidenced by some of the data Sarah, Paula, and I put together about our year, the DMUSD staff did just that. This year for us has been a monumental year of learning, creativity, and celebration, which would not have been possible if not for the amazing staff we were fortunate to work with throughout this school year. 
When people think and act like a designer, they must be able to see not just what is, but what might be. The design thinking opportunities teachers facilitated for students this year truly exposed students to what might be by helping students discover their inner genius, and then empowering students to use that genius to advance the world. We watched in awe as students demonstrated sincere empathy and felt a call to action within, and outside of, design thinking experiences. We felt joy when watching the faces of teachers as they saw their students demonstrate their passion for learning. And we enjoyed seeing those proud parents listen to their children present their prototype solutions at packed exhibitions! 
And we learned a lot, too! We learned…
– how important it is to always start with why and to know the priorities. When people understand the why and have an opportunity to be a voice in building the how and what, there is a greater success in change efforts. 
– that every site and teacher, just like every student, has unique qualities requiring a customized approach to integrate design thinking experiences. 
– connecting with industry experts to not only dive deeper into the content standards and relevant application to careers today, but to provide high-quality feedback on student thinking, exponentially increases student learning. And that expeditionary partnerships with local organizations is truly a game changer that leads to extraordinary experiences for students!
– a constant feedback loop is important from all stakeholders. Feedback, or better yet, feedforward, is an art form, and we are all working towards being master artists. 
– our beliefs and experiences inform our actions. It is critical to give people an opportunity to experience something new for themselves so that they are empowered to contribute to leading change initiatives. 
We have some hopes and plans moving forward to the 2018-19 school year. Besides continuing to support the momentum for implementing design thinking experiences in the classroom, we are looking to increase opportunities for expeditionary partnerships and industry expert connections. We’re building design thinking-ish mini-experiences that teachers can use within a lesson, as well as redesigning some of our planning tools to be more user-friendly. 
We are thankful to each and every staff member and student of DMUSD for the opportunity to serve you, and look forward to continuing in our unrelenting pursuit to create the extraordinary school experience for all students.

“Empathy should be used in every situation.
We should think with empathy throughout life.”
– 6th grade student

Why are there so many design thinking framework graphics? Why do they have different shapes? Different elements? Different flow patterns?

Those were the questions 6th graders asked when we looked at a variety of design thinking framework graphics, ranging from Stanford d.school to IBM to Intuit and the Henry Ford Institute. These students had spent this past year diving into the design thinking process through a variety of experiences ranging from creating a student chair to redesigning the school experience. Because they had spent so much time exploring the process, looking through other frameworks raised an important question:

What does Design Thinking look like in Del Mar Union School District, and how might we develop a Design Thinking visual that represents what Design Thinking means for students and staff?

We realized that we had a unique challenge – unlike corporations or colleges, we have to represent design thinking to five year olds who cannot read all the way up to 6th graders (who think they know everything!). How could we adapt our visual for our customers?

Luckily for me, 6th graders were up to the task. A week later, and they had prototypes to present. And I must admit, WOWZA was the term that kept coming to mind during their presentations. I’m sharing their concepts here, but what you’re missing is the rich dialogue around WHY they made their concepts the way they did.

Some key takeaways from the student dialogues:

“The Design Thinking process adapts to how you’re using it.”

“I thought it was linear at first, but now I know I can move around as I need to.”

“The process restarts again and again, going broad and narrow at the same time.”

“I didn’t understand the value of going back until I did it so many times on this project.”

Beyond the graphic, we also talked about the design thinking process as a holistic entity. This is where the conversation really intrigued me. One student commented that the trouble with using the design thinking process in schools is that the non-linear cyclical process runs counter to traditional teaching and learning. Content standards and state tests require classes to keep moving in a forward momentum, even when the design thinking process would have us circle back around and around again to dig deeper into a complex problem. It can be frustrating having to move beyond an experience when students know there’s still so many layers to unravel. Finding balance, as a teacher, is critical to the learning.

But the students all saw that the value of design thinking went beyond the process itself. Students realized that using design thinking taught them time management and backwards planning. They learned the power of constraints, like deadlines, to push creative thought into action.

Most importantly, students discovered that empathy is the start of it all. It allows people to understand what others are going through. As the students explained, empathy has a use in every situation. If we all would think with empathy throughout our lives, many problems could be averted, or solved, in compassionate ways.

If only we were all as smart as these 6th graders!

So… which model strikes a chord with you? Why? What do you think propelled the students to create that version?

 

Thanks Mrs. Tanner for letting me spend time with your students! I appreciated how you identified this process as an authentic assessment possibility.

Designing From The Heart

I have been reading quite a few books on design, but none have actually been designed with the elegance of this human: how to be the person designing for other people by Melis Senova, PhD.  I did not want to finish reading it because I was enjoying the content and layout so much. Luckily, it’s the kind of book that serves as an ongoing reference, which means I will have the pleasure of rereading portions of it many times over the next few years.

this human book page

this human book spread. Photo from: https://this-human.com/book

Senova has an interesting background. Not only is she a pioneer in human-centered design, but she is also educated in both neuroscience and engineering. Oh, and a PhD in design! How’s that for multi-faceted? It’s this diverse perspective, I believe, that equips her with the insight to dig into the HUMAN piece of human-centered design. In other words, how can you design for others if you don’t understand “what it takes to be the human who is doing the designing?” (p. viii).

Senova’s book provides perspective and tangible exercises to help the designer understand the human experience through his/her own personal human experiences. It’s not about empathy mapping and ideating as much as it is about understanding personal biases, creating genuine human connections and designing from the heart.

What’s really awesome is that you don’t even have to be a designer to appreciate this book. There are so many parallels to the work educators do designing experiences for students that I could easily purchase this book for all my teacher friends (except that I’m broke so can you all just go buy your own copy?).

When designing lessons, it’s easy to assume that our view of reality is our students’ reality. The result of this assumption can be manifested in comments like, “I don’t know why they didn’t get it. I TAUGHT it!” or “Not doing homework is a sign of laziness.” However, if we are to design for positive impact, which is the ultimate goal of human-centered designers, than Senova reminds readers that “it is their truth that is important, not yours” (p.3).

With this tenet in mind, it is important that we set aside biases, open communication channels, and truly design from the heart, regardless of whether we are designing temporary housing for flood victims, a can opener for people with arthritis, or a unit to teach students about the role of the Bill of Rights in today’s society. As educators, we should all be human-centered designers every day. This book will help you do so.

 

downloadOur district mission statement centers around our calling to  “ignite genius and empower students to advance the world.” That’s a pretty tall order!

Especially when, as Seth Godin explains (“The Long Term” podcast), students typically spend 90-95% of their school day on either doing what they’re told, aka compliance, or finding the right answer, also compliance!

If only 5-10% of the day is open for a student to think bigger thoughts, then how in the world can we ever expect students to find their genius?

Looking for the right answer? It’s easy. You can’t.

If we truly want students to find their genius, then we need to provide the opportunities for them to dig in to complex problems. Complex problems does not mean a calculus problem, or balancing scientific equations. What I’m talking about here are complex LIFE problems. Problems that, quite honestly, don’t have answers. Things like:

  • Overpopulation and resource scarcity (Although, if you watched the last Avengers movie, this problem does have a potential solution… No Spoilers allowed!)
  • Economic development of the global poor
  • Nuclear security

When we allow students time, resources, and freedom to explore complex problems like these, and even more so, when we let them explore the world of no resolutely right answer, we are building their capacity for original thought. We are building their capacity for grit. We are building their capacity for learning from failure.

And in doing so, we are building their capacity to ignite their own genius.

 

 

 

I grew up in an Italian family. That meant a lot of our family gatherings were centered around food. Lots and lots of food. And since most food preparation happens in the kitchen, it came to be that a lot of family gathering and conversations happened around the kitchen as well.

Apparently this same phenomena has happened in many families because we are now seeing open-concept kitchens as a selling point for homes. Understanding that the kitchen is not just about cooking, but also about communicating, designers are rethinking the traditional kitchen to incorporate this additional user need.

A single bed in a kitchen in Stoneybatter

A Flat in Stoneybatter

When spaces are designed, they are designed for a purpose. A home has many spaces, and each has its purposes. It would seem bizarre to place your bed in the kitchen. Even though we know that our day consists of both cooking and sleeping, those activities require separate spaces. Likewise, most of us forego the kitchen sink and use a separate sink space to brush our teeth and apply makeup.

And yet, when looking at classroom spaces, I see spaces that are trying to be an all-in-one environment. It’s like having the bed, sink, patio furniture, and front lawn all crammed in the kitchen. (Granted, there are some super tiny apartments in NYC that attempt to do just that, but they are the exception!)

What do you want students to do in the space?

This is the question Rebecca Louise Hare, Design Specialist/Science Teacher/Learning Space Designer and overall awesome person challenged us with at CUE BOLD. A space, she explained, can’t be everything to everyone all the time. Prioritizing the function of the space is key.

Is it meant for collaborating? Physical Making? Digital Making? Reflecting? Showcasing? Working independently? Presenting? Receiving? Other? And no, you can’t just say yes. Think of how much time does it serve those purposes… and is there another space that could serve that purpose better?

Can we showcase student learning in the hallways? In the library? On a website or IG account? This frees our classroom walls for the process of learning instead of a museum for the product of learning.

Can students work independently outside of their assigned seat? Does it work on the floor? Under a desk? In the quad? On a bean bag chair?

We read our physical environment like we read a human face.

When you prioritize the purpose of your space, the space can then support the purpose. If the kitchen is for cooking and socializing, then the inclusion of the island with bar stools and a large stove supports that purpose. The bed, the lawn, the makeup… the rest becomes clutter, distraction, barriers.

As we head into summer break, challenge yourself by asking: What do you want students to do in the space? What do students want to do in the space? And then design it to reflect that purpose.

Resources:

The Space: A Guide for Educators by Rebecca Louise Hare & Dr. Robert Dillon

Parts, Purpose, Complexities Thinking Routine

Doing Good Better bookAccording to William Macaskill, it is. That’s the premise behind his book, Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Help Others, Do Work That Matters, and Make Smarter Choices About Giving Back. 

Macaskill and colleagues developed effective altruism, which uses data and some snazzy principles to help people make a huge difference in the world. It’s about asking “How can I make the biggest difference I can?” and then using evidence and reasoning to find the answer. It’s not about more money, or volunteering more hours. It’s more about being impartial in analyzing the options to choose what’s best for the world. (Spoiler alert: many of the options that we choose aren’t the best ones!)

I picked up this book because of Design Thinking. Weird, maybe… but as we ask students to prototype solutions to complex problems, I’ve been grappling with what to do with those solutions. Are they solutions that warrant being pushed into the world? Have similar solutions already been tested? Should we tap into the passion students show towards specific subjects and encourage them to do something to make a difference, or redirect their energy to areas in which it is possible to truly make a difference? And hey, are we even tackling the right problems?

According to Macaskill, it’s not enough to do something. It needs to be the best thing, so that the thing done makes the difference it should make. When it comes to helping others, Macaskill says that “being unreflective often means being ineffective.” He shares multiple examples of programs that sound great on paper, like PlayPumps  and Fair Trade but in actuality do little good for the people they intend to serve. In fact, some programs not only don’t do good, but they can cause harm, like Scared Straight, and boycotting sweat shops (seriously…!)

So what does this have to do with elementary students and design thinking?

If we are going to present students with opportunities to solve complex problems, and build in them a sense of agency that they can make a difference in the world, then isn’t it also our responsibility to make sure that they do good in a way that actually helps others? Shouldn’t we teach them how to identify work that matters? And how to make smart choices about ways to give back?

Although I’m not sure I agree with all of Macaskill’s premises, I do think this is an area which warrants a deeper dive. If we are going to teach advocacy, global citizenship, and cultural intelligence, then it is important that we also provide students with the tools needed to help them make smart decisions, just like we need to do with media literacy and fake news. We need to make sure that critical thinking stays prominent in this work.

We need to ask ourselves if we are doing good, or if we are doing good better.

 

I Have Fallen in Love with Cad Monkeys, Dinosaur Babies, and T-Shaped People!

Well, not literally! But I did thoroughly enjoy the book Cad Monkeys. Dinosaur Babies, and T-Shaped People: Inside the World of Design Thinking and How it Can Spark Creativity and Innovation by Warren Berger (That title is quite a mouthful!!). If you don’t believe me, consider the fact that I used up almost all of my super cute Target bin book tabs in this one book!

Book tabs on my book

I truly don’t even know where to start to describe all I learned from Berger. His deep dive into the world of design, and designers, read like a novel – fascinating characters, interesting plot developments, and a universal theme to do the right thing.

You know what? I’m just going to share some of my tabbed inspirations and see where it goes:

* It can be difficult to step back and look at one’s life with a fresh eye, but this is part of what design can teach us: how to view things sideways, how to reframe, rearrange, experiment, refine, and – maybe most important of all – how to ask “the stupid questions” that challenge assumptions about the way things have been done in the past.

* Jumping the fence…attempting to make the leap from the realm of known achievability (what we know is possible) to the much larger surrounding space (what we don’t know how to do yet).

* Everything a business does matters; that every action communicates a message to the world and also has consequences on some level.

* Jim Hackett, CEO of Steelcase: “There is an over celebration of getting things done” and not enough patience for “thinking as part of doing.”

* Dean Kamen: “We have to do whatever it takes to get ideas out there into the world. Otherwise, you’re just doing science fair projects.”

* Mark Noonan: “Instead of just asking a question, you have to take ownership of it.”

* Bruce Mau: Process enables experimentation. “It’s like a safety net.” People tend to feel more comfortable experimenting with new ideas and venturing onto unfamiliar turf when they carry with them an established method of working and solving problems. It means that even if they don’t quite know what they’re doing, they always know what to do.”

This book is like the Lorax, in that it speaks for design. And even though it’s about design, these quotes also speak to the heart of education. They speak to the work we must do to ensure student learning experiences are relevant to the world they inhabit today, and the future world problems they will be inheriting.

I leave them here, then, without my commentary so that they can speak to you as well. Tell me, what do you hear?