EPISODE 20: Awards winners - Design in Schools

This year Service Design award for systemic change in education went to ‘Design Managers Australia (DMA)’ and Macquarie Primary School. We had the great opportunity to have both Mel  Edwards, co-principal at DMA and Wendy Cave, principal at the Macquarie Primary school together on the show.   



Most surprising insight 

At Knight Moves we have been doing quite some projects in education over the years. The questions we often hear is how can we prepare our children for the future. What skills do they need to learn. We talk about the 21st century skills like collaboration, communication, learning how create a life-long-learning attitude, etc. 

Mel and Wendy told us these are the same skills they are teaching their children. The interesting thing we learned was that these skills are indeed the skills you need as a designer and that by experiencing a design process you practice these skills. At Macquarie school they therefore decided to take an actual exciting design challenge: the parking lot and take the children on a journey though the whole design process 


What was interesting to hear was that students were discovering what they were good at and what they liked to do. Some of them took more of a leader role, others the building role or the research role. For everyone there was a place in the process to shine without making all of them designers.


They talk more about this topic in this paper: http://designmanagers.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/DesignInSchools_Educator-Designer-Paper_2017_sml.pdf


The kids never questioned the process like adults did, they just did stuff and wanted to see what the result was. This was quiet lovely and refreshing because it is the opposite when you work with adults.
— Mel Edwards


What we learned

In traditional education nowadays the teacher is the expert in its field and knows all the answers beforehand. The answer is already there and it will be a matter of being wrong or right. But when we look at our jobs and lives in general there is never just one person who can tell the right answer. We learned how important it is to teach children that a problem can be solved in different ways and that this can be a messy process with difficult discussions to make. This is a very different attitude from the teacher.

It was very refreshing to see how DMA was teaching the students a process to tackle these problem and a different mindset towards problem solving.  


A behind the scene story 

I already met Wendy at the Service Design conference in Madrid while waiting in line for the toilet :) We already briefly chat with each other. It was great to talk for an hour again and hear their project approach. After the interview Mel and Wendy shared this lovely picture on twitter.