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Design Thinking

Design Thinking…. The Road to Entrepreneurial Thinking for Our Students

2016 at The Cushman School will be a year where students will be creating for a purpose. Whether they are taking interesting ideas and turning them into a project with real-world applications as in our recent Middle School Artist-in-Residence Program, or creating an original App or prototype that may solve a personal or some else’s need, the very process that they go through….the Design Thinking process… is one that will reflect entrepreneurial thinking. While Cushman’s faculty has historically and skillfully brought learning to life through project-based assignments, this year, they all engaged in professional development to learn how to apply the Design Thinking steps to the implementation of projects integrated with the curriculum. What is especially noted in the process is that it all begins with the first step… ‘empathy’…. a 21st century disposition that is becoming ever-more important in this disconnected world. Once one ‘understands’ or ‘empathizes’ with the users’ needs, the process of arriving to a creative solution through the remaining steps of ‘defining’, ‘ideating’, ‘prototyping’, and ‘testing’, has begun.

As a collaborative and fun final project, the faculty applied the process toward the creation of unique wallets that were personalized to each other’s needs. It was not a surprise to experience the tremendous creativity and heart that went into creating something new and original that would solve a need! Now, whether they are teaching Latin in our Middle School, designing Cushman yoga space in the third grade, or creating new houses for The Three Little Pigs in the Primary School, all students, whether in their classrooms or in the Innovation Center, are able to embrace and apply the process in unique ways.

If students are challenged to do something they care about….if they are encouraged to demonstrate their passions, and… if students develop and apply their entrepreneurial mindset to not only think creatively, but to empathize, collaborate, try to solve problems, value, solicit and accept feedback from experts in various fields, fail, readjust flexibly, and pursue until the problem is resolved, they will seek to create opportunities and be ready for the real world. In essence, Cushman students will be equipped with a mindset to create with a purpose.

– Arvi Balseiro