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Making Children Learn vs Making Children Learners

Friday November 17, 2017

It’s been bugging me for a while. Along with the learning styles, Brain Gym, yadda yadda bathwater, we seem to have thrown out an important baby – emotional human engagement with the process of learning.

Every Tweet, infographic and ‘No, This Is How We Learn’ book touted currently seems to mistake memorising for learning and making learning happen for creating independent learners. At the heart of it – and not using the word ‘heart’ loosely – is the fact that we are at risk of turning learning into the dour, lifeless, externally and utilitarian driven, individual (not individualised) pursuit of something that lies ahead.

And that's for the lucky ones.

What's more, the message from on high seems to be, if that improves our exam results then we’re all doing right by our children. Honest we are.

It was with this realisation about what it was that was bugging me about the latest manifestation of ‘What good schools should do’ forming in my head that I came across the following 'Design Feeling' blog from ‘Design Evangelist’ Chase Buckley (@ChaseBuckleyUX) and it all fell into place. As you read the following, replace the word ‘design’ with the idea of ‘pedagogy’ or 'teaching' and you’ll get the idea.

And then reflect on your lessons. Have you forfeited feelings for factual acquisition? Are your effective and efficient lessons just like everyone else’s effective and efficient lessons? Are ‘effective’ and ‘efficient’ desirable qualities of genuine learning? And are you making learning happen at the expense of making learners happen?

See what you think:

Design Feeling, reproduced here with the kind permission of Chase Buckley himself, is part of a longer blog on the future of design that first appeared here. Well worth a read.

Design Thinking is a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions for clients. Design Thinking draws upon logic, strategy, and systemic reasoning to explore possibilities of what could be — and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user.

The problem with design thinking is that it relies almost entirely on thinking. Rooted in analytical reasoning, logic, ontologies and systems — design thinking is a 'left-brain' endeavor. It may have the word “design” in its title, but don’t be fooled —this cult-like methodology is little more than a trick used by engineers to sound creative.

Design Thinking has led us to a world of depressing homogeneity.

It is no wonder that the “designs” of today are so homogeneous and dull; the prevalence of design-thinking, with its strict adherence to reason, has resulted in a generation of products that are fuelled entirely by logic but completely devoid of passion. Everything has become templatized. What we end up with is a world full of generic forms, lifeless products, and soulless “innovations”.

Design Thinking is responsible for the extraordinary “sameness” of every single web design.

Everything has become templatized. What we end up with is a world full of generic forms, lifeless products, and soulless “innovations”.

But the monotony that pervades the world of technology and design may be nearing its end. As technology becomes more and more commoditized and undifferentiated, thanks to the soulless handiwork of design-thinking, companies are looking for new methodologies to innovate and distinguish their products. Many, including visionaries like IDEAO's Tim Brown and InVision's Clark Valberg, are realizing that they should be thinking less, and feeling a whole lot more.

Design Feeling calls for a return to what is natural and intuitive. It is a movement that puts humanity back into design. It is about feeling problems out, not analyzing them. Its about sensing solutions, not testing them. And, unlike the wretched processes of design-thinking, design feeling is rooted in impulse, spontaneity, desire, passion, feeling, imagination, and indulgence. It represents creativity at its core. Design is not a process. Its an art.

In an exclusive interview I had with Tim Brown, IDEO’s CEO famous for bringing design-thinking to the masses, Tim confessed that Design-Thinking has led to the hideous state of design that we are burdened with today. After providing Tim with one-on-one lessons on the virtues of design-feeling, he confessed to me, “so much of my life has been wasted prostrating myself before the false idol of design-thinking…I should have been thinking so much less, and feeling so much more..”

Design Feeling is already being used by the world’s most bleeding-edge game changers, and soon enough, if you want to keep your job, you’ll be using it too.

How do you feel about that? ITL

Ian Gilbert

Independent Thinking Founder

November 2017


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