Ever since I experienced design thinking for the first time at the Educator's Bootcamp at the Stanford University d.school, I just haven't been able to stop thinking about this format for creative problem solving.* Every meeting I go to I want to jump out of my chair and say, "there is a better way to tackle this!" I overhear conversations about the world we live in and think, "if only we could get a group of creatives together to talk to others and look at this problem in a different way!" And when I enter a classroom, my focus has become not only on the product but also on what students will learn as human beings throughout the process. So, as I think back to this past weekend, I am filled to the brim with possibility.
I spent Saturday leading a design thinking workshop for students who are in leadership positions on their college campus. They are challenged to "design ways in which to understand and teach the community about the essence of their university". As they described why they were spending their Saturday with us, I could see pride and frustration in their faces. They want so badly to share their experiences and those of others and make a change that will benefit their school that they care deeply about. One student even confronted us as we discussed the plan for the day. "Why does it matter? Who is going to listen to us anyway? Will something really come of this work that we are doing?" he questioned. Our hope is that as we guide them through the process and they will see that they do have the power to share their voices and make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Saturday was tiring and I was glad to have Sunday to reenergize. I spent the majority of the day gathering my thoughts around a passion project that I would like to work on for the coming year to apply for the Adobe Creative Residency. Once again, I came back to design thinking. I know I want to write and illustrate a children's book with paper cut illustrations and I know I want to teach others about design thinking, so why not combine those two ideas!? So my passion project is to design and illustrate an interactive children's book that teaches others the power and life skills of the design thinking process. I'm not sure exactly what it will look like yet but I do know that it would be full of colorful layered paper cuts and challenge people to think about how they can problem solve in creative ways.
This weekend reminded me of why I always have this process on my mind. It gives us all a voice. It teaches us valuable life skills such as how to communicate effectively and share stories with others. It reminds us of our creative and fun sides and helps us to see those sides of others. And it challenges us to look at problems as opportunities that can be solved if we bring our creative minds and come together to share and build ideas. It reminds us that we are all human with needs and there are innovative ways to meet the needs of each and every one of us.
* I would like to give a nod to my sister, Maryanna Rogers, who convinced me to attend the d.school almost 5 years ago. Thanks for changing my life, sisterita!