Design Thinking in Education
As St Stithians looks back on its past in this 70th year, it is essential we also look to the future – to the next 70 years and beyond. In our challenging local and global new normal, different ways of thinking about and navigating complexity are needed. In her capacity as both overall Executive Head of the College, and as its visionary for academic excellence in teaching and learning, the Rector, Mrs Celeste Gilardi, has her eye on these core pillars of sustainability.
Together with the Functional Head of Education Research and Innovation, Dr Adrienne Watson, Celeste attended UCT’s Hasso Plattner d-school’s “d.confestival” in October last year. Two of the focus areas of the conference were how design thinking is being integrated into education, and, how it provides a set of conceptual tools for navigating enterprise complexity. The overarching challenge statement of the conference was How might we cultivate a culture of design thinking for leaders and teams operating within complex firms in a way that optimises performance, motivation, and innovation so that we create extraordinary value for stakeholders, communities, future generations and the planet? A second key challenge statement was How might we celebrate the richness of the African context of design thinking, leverage global connections and bring it into a newly imagined teaching and learning space? The resonances with St Stithians’ culture and ethos are strong.
Shifting the focus to the classroom, to current ways of teaching, and to what underpins the choices we make as teachers, Celeste invited UKZN’s Professor Wayne Hugo, and Kingswood Executive Head, Mr Leon Grove, to take the StratPlan group, in their first PD session of 2023, through some foundational thinking about how evidence-based education practices and ideologies need to be intentionally and rigorously managed. Prof Hugo stressed that our priority as educators is to be consistently clear in our professional judgement about the rationale for our diverse approaches to teaching and learning. The second priority is to raise our awareness of how, implicitly, or explicitly, various social and political ideologies intersect with teaching practices, and how as educators, we manage that intersection. The workshop affirmed what we do already and challenged us to think differently. We look forward to a second session with Prof Hugo and Mr Grove later in the year.
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