Ride the Tiger: Design the Revolution

I’m looking forward to the NAIS Annual Conference- #naisac15 – this year – assuming of course that Boston can dig its way out of all the snow.


The theme is appealing:  “Design the Revolution”.  It’s a slogan that manages to evoke the design thinking and  maker movements while also embracing the ineluctable truth that the world is speeding along rather fast.

John Dewey said much the same about the accelerating and disruptive change back in the 1940’s.

The world is moving at a tremendous rate; no one knows where. We must prepare our children not for the world of the past, not for our world, but for their world. The world of the future.   

Since then that pace has accelerated. It puts the pressure on all of us to stay grounded in what matters most just as we are in the midst of the swirling winds of change.

That first word – design –  suggests the empathy-fueled problem-solving world of design thinking;  the last – revolution –  has the threat of and promise for a world of learning driven by new, turbulent technologies and understandings about learning.

Design – the verb – is a call to action. It suggests the notion that we do have a measure of control in all this. Revolution, however, suggests things beyond our individual ability to manage and tame.

A rising tide lifts all boats – or so the saying goes. But what happens when to we tie ourselves to the sea bed with the silos of subjects, schedule and space? When we have blocked the paths to change and flat-lined progress especially with, for example, musty, outdated curricula, customs and classroom design; obsessions with competition, standards and testing,  and walled ourselves off into isolated departments and divisions. And I would add, schools.

When we anchor ourselves and to the sea-bed of convention and status quo – in that scenario – we are left gasping for air and drowning.

So the call to design the revolution is also a call to cut those mind-forg’d manacles and set ourselves free. And that is how the tenets of progressive education and the design thinking process can help.

For those who don’t yet know – there’s a really useful online community discussion  that meets on Twitter at 9pm (E.T) on Wednesdays – #dtk12chat. And the moderators and regulars are  both immersed and emerging in that they know their stuff , are happy to share, and eager to learn.

Sometimes tweets expresses things succinctly: In January one challenge was:

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 11.30.52 AM

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 11.30.36 AM

This was my very quick definition of design thinking:

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 10.03.02 AM

With that as a working definition let’s get out there and ride the tiger and Design this Revolution!

It’s always good to catch up with folks at the annual conference and with people and organizations that matter: Independent Curriculum Group (ICG) for example and colleagues past, present and future. And there are also the great people at #isedchat and those working to bridge public and private education at #pubpribridge  Thank you to all of you.

And always so much to learn from the speakers , presenters and workshops including our own Stan Lichens at the already-sold-out Speed Innovating event.

T19. STEAM Content Development Toolkit for Educators
Stan Lichens, Poughkeepsie Day School (NY)

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