Design Thinking and Global Perspectives

Decades ago, astronomer Gerald Hawkins predicted humans would grapple with the presently inconceivable, mind-stretching discoveries, and dramatic shifts to paradigms in our universe. Colorado Academy’s “Global Perspectives in the 21st Century” course for high school freshmen is a course that uses design thinking to prepare students for the world that Hawkins imagined.

CA History teacher Paul Kim (the course’s lead designer) says it is the unpredictable development of the world that requires today’s students to be prodigious thinkers, creators of original ideas, and confident learners who understand the world empathetically. “This is a class that I’ve been thinking about for 20 years,” says Kim. “The yearlong course uses design thinking and inquiry-based learning to help students become more creative, analytical, revelant, and persistent in their thinking.”

As a part of Colorado Academy’s ongoing efforts to use innovation to add rigor to the curriculum, the course has actively sought to reformulate learning by cross-pollinating content in unexpected ways. For example, this year students programmed arduino boards and then worked with a spoken word champion poet to compare the language of technology with the language of identity.

While this type of learning is difficult to measure using traditional metrics, the value of it in terms of emotion and meaning has been clear. Students attest to the impact of the course by saying: “I feel more creative… I am challenging and analyzing what I’m being told more.” “…develop the mindset not only as a student but as a person to not be satisfied with the obvious and to stretch for further connections.” “It is very engaging and requires a healthy amount of knowledge and risk taking.”

Does your school do something similar?

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