Emily Pilloton's Design Process (see videos below this post), as she applies it to the education setting for high school students, is brimming with critical thinking elements. Critical thinking involves so much deep internal awareness of one's thought process, and a willingness to examine one's thoughts and habits of mind. Critical thinking also involves a commitment to respect the truth and the ability to dwell in an inquiring mind and proceed from a place of empathy in order to have a balanced understanding of the problem or topic at hand, and to develop questions that address the issues of the many angles and perspectives present in and topic or problem. (Critical Thinking, 2015). In Emily's Design Process she is teaching students to do this in so many amazing ways. First of all, the design of the student day where students have three hours every school day to dedicated to truly digging in and doing the work necessary to gather information they need, is wonderful, and so needed in today's schools. She says that her students spend that time doing "ethnographic research and doing the need finding, coming back into the studio doing the brainstorming and design visualization to come up with concepts that might work, and then moving into the shop and actually testing them, building them, prototyping them.” (Pilloton, 2010). From there students then spend more time practicing and developing their critical thinking skills by spending time analyzing those prototypes to see if the solutions will work. All of this requires those critical thinking skills and qualities referenced above, especially empathy and an awareness and respect for the truth. Emily's approach differs from the maybe traditional definition of critical thinking because it isn't about just questioning, but it takes students much deeper into the seat and root of the problem at hand in order to research and truly understand the problem a hand; it engages empathy to guide students to that respect for the truth.
Chapter 2 and the Learning to Change video highlight who our students in our classrooms are, and when we look at that along with who our teachers and administrators are, the reality is that there is a great divide. Our students have changed and evolved over time, and the way we do school hasn't. In chapter 2 it is reported that "Today's students are using the Internet as their preferred tool for learning outside of school. . ." (Schrum & Levin, 2009). This fact makes it clear that our digital native students are finding themselves in traditional classrooms that don't serve their needs anymore. It is vital that teachers and administrators open themselves up to changing their mindsets by adopting critical thinking skills of having an inquiring mind and having a respect for the truth. The truth is that it is time to school differently. The truth is, the current traditional school system is failing our students because it really is obsolete and no longer serves our students in a way that is relevant and meaningful to them. How can we help our colleagues and administrators, many of whom are digital immigrants or digital resistors, see that and learn that? My approach is to lead by example first. I do what I do and then share it with colleagues. We need to invite them into our classrooms so they can see that it is ok to release the reins to the students and learn alongside them. As teachers, we are no longer the keepers of knowledge. Digital natives don't wait for us to teach them things- when they have an interest in something they want to learn about, they go find a teacher on the Internet. We have to make ourselves available and vulnerable to our colleagues- sharing out what is possible. The results always speak for themselves. As one young man stated in the Learning To Change Video regarding the topic of technology,"It teaches people to think in a different way" (Learning To Change, 2011). This young man's statement leads straight back to critical thinking. We all need to learn to think in a different way because the world is now different than it was 50 years ago. Heck, the world is different than it was yesterday. We need to be open so that we can keep up.
Schrum, L., & Levin, B. B. (2009). Leading 21st century schools: Harnessing technology for engagement and achievement.Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
YouTube,. (2015). Critical Thinking. Retrieved 16 July 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9IjF6aqy_E
YouTube,. (2015). Emily Pilloton: Teaching design for change. Retrieved 16 July 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=794&v=aiIxdFBA0Sw
YouTube,. (2015). Learning to Change, Changing to Learn: Student Voices. Retrieved 18 July 2015, fromhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAkWtSxKYaI