When I went into the education industry more than 10 years ago, I went into it wholeheartedly with enthusiasm, passion and excitement. The first time I stepped foot in my college as a professor I was so excited and happy to start my new teaching journey. Though sadly, I realized that my colleagues did not share those same feelings.
In fact, many of my colleagues had been in the system for so long it has in fact made them a little too jaded, with reason of course. We’re talking here many of them being contract faculty whose jobs were very insecure every semester, and faced with many other obstacles that come with being a contract professor.
I left the college 5 years after. You can read about my reasons here.
I was an educator in residence there, I worked on The Writing Project (still working on it).
Within my short time working at DC, I learned why change in education happens very slowly. In education, when we are faced with a problem, we always tend to look at it from a negative perspective. We hear a lot of “we can’t do this” “this will take too long” “there is no budget for that” “I don’t know if anyone will be interested in this idea…”.
In the design and technology world, it was different. My colleagues approached many of the ideas with something they call “Solution-Based Thinking”. This model is similar to a design thinking model. It centres around possible solutions that work for all stakeholders.
An important part of the process is that it’s iterative. And it changes a lot. This change is expected, and more often than not welcomed. Something that I also didn’t encounter in education. There are always “specific” processes that we needed to adhere by and change was next to impossible.
Here’s what I learned:
- When we encounter a problem, approach it with a positive mindset. It will help to solve it faster.
- Provide solutions and possibilities not impossibilities. Don’t be the naysayer.
- Leverage resources that you have, and some that you don’t know about. Look for them and do thorough research.
- Brainstorm. Brainstorm a lot. Write everything down.
- Document your thinking and brainstorming! Take pictures of the stickies and mapping, you will need it.
- Write a reflective piece about the process (this is hard for me to do often because of lack of time, but if you can do it, it’s very useful to have for later use).
It’s easy for us to approach everything with a “can’t” do attitude, because most often there is not enough support around us to say “yes, let’s do it”. But what if we were that support that other educators need? What if when we said, “this will work! let’s give it a shot” others might join in and make the impossible possible? It might change a lot.
If you’re interested in reading more about Design Thinking & the Solutions-based thinking model, take a look at Design Cofounders’ thoughts here.
Here is also an article I wrote on Empathy and Design Thinking in education.