DV Summit – Design: the problem and the solution, and the imperative for 21st century design education

Posted by Administrator on August 22 2017

Design Ventura

The Design Ventura summit “Design: the problem and the solution” was held on 29 March 2017. Its purpose was to bring together educators, designers, cultural providers and policy makers to discuss how they can ensure that young people are developing creativity, design thinking and employability skills to prepare them for future success.

The following extract is by Sorrel Hershberg, Director at The Saturday Club Trust, on her take on the issues discussed.

We don’t know what the jobs of the future will be; that much is abundantly clear from observation of the rapid technological changes of the last century, accelerating dramatically over the last 10 years.

NESTA’s Creativity vs Robots report struck a positive note for design however: creative people are the least likely to be replaced by machines. For me, this is because they don’t just have subject-specific knowledge and skills – such as drawing, modelling, spatial awareness – but also the qualities that make us more future-proof:

  • Communications and persuasion
  • Visual and verbal dexterity
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Analytical and critical thinking
  • Collaborative problem-solving

And, perhaps most importantly, learning to fail.

One of my main fears about the damage being done to mainstream education is not just to do with the marginalisation of creative subjects (even though this is very serious and has long-term consequences) but more crucially the damage done to how we learn.

As the Saturday Club has branched into Science and Engineering and Writing and Talking we have discovered a worrying common thread among all the young people. Firstly, they all feel stressed by exams. And secondly, they don’t like being wrong, or accepting that there is more than one right answer.

So even in subjects that are high status and compulsory up to age 16 – EBacc subjects such as science and maths – even in these subjects you are not taught to think like a scientist.  By this I mean the experimental method where you test a theory, observe what happens and learn from it, especially when the experiment fails, or doesn’t have the expected outcome.

This is how we learn new stuff and move things forward. If we only learn what is known now, without allowing for error or deviation, we can’t progress. We won’t discover things like Post-It notes, which were invented from failure: a glue that wasn’t sticky enough. And we wouldn’t find the Jonny Ives, the Margaret Calverts, the Marie Curies or the Stephen Hawkings.

At the Saturday Club, we hope that by having the opportunity to think like designers and scientists, away from the pressure of exams, young people will learn the qualities that will make them future-proof: resilience, flexibility, persuasion, critical thinking, collaborative problem solving and – how to fail.

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