A fellow student in my Social Web for Social Change course shared a 2006 TED Talk entitled Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity as an example of a video that sparks social change. (His follow up 2010 TED talk, Bring on the education revolution! is noteworthy as well.)
I completely agree with Sir Robinson’s assertion that “creativity, now, is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.” He goes on to say that:
We are educating people out of their creative capacities. Picasso once said this, he said that ‘all children are born artists; the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.’ I believe this passionately, that we don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or, rather, we get educated out of it.
The current public education system is flawed. Rather than educating people in what they are good at, and allowing them to explore the things that truly make them happy, it pumps them through a standardized program with the hopes that they’ll all come out the other side with the same level of knowledge. Unfortunately, this leads to a number of children being left behind, all around the world. Especially in areas where funding for education is poor or nonexistent. It is imperative that we begin to design new models for education that combat these challenges, empower children with knowledge that is both useful and relevant and can meet students where they are–both mentally and physically.
While up at Channel Rock this Summer, one of the student teams in the Creativity and Right Livelihood course I was TA-ing developed a revolutionary idea that did just that. (Video of their final presentation below. Team members: Stephanie Milbergs, Jennifer Teehan, Paul Erikson, Dan Emory. Featuring Kyle Capizzi as Saul.) This team of students redesigned the school bus. Typically, school buses are only used to transport students back and forth from home to a classroom. They envisioned a bus that combined all three of these aspects (transport, home and classroom) into a mobile, residential school program. This idea takes students to places they want to go, allows them to learn about a variety of cultures, from right in their own community to around the country, and allows for an educational process that adapts to the needs of its users.
I got a little excited when I heard about a school in Delhi, India that is doing something similar. While they aren’t doing a residential program, they have decided to innovate on the school model to provide mobile education via a traveling bus. The Chalta Firta School (the name means “wandering school”) on wheels gives 300 slum kids in 3 different locations around Delhi a chance to learn.
More public schools around the world need to redefine what a classroom is so that we can take more opportunities to empower children, where they are, while providing an engaging, creative experience that truly enhances their whole being. As Ken Robinson noted at the end of his TED talk:
We have to be careful now, that we use this gift [of human imagination] wisely… the only way we’ll do it is by seeing our creative capacities for the richness they are and seeing our children for the hope that they are. And our task is to educate their whole being so they can face this future.
I look forward to the day when I will see mobile schools driving through my own neighborhood and connecting communities around the world.
Read more about the Chalta Firta School in the Gulf News article Can’t Get to School? Then School Will Come to You.
I’ve been working on further developing my personal brand. I chose to follow the method that Suzanne Pinckney used for her personal brand, which was to choose 3 main words, then 3 additional words for each that help clarify and expand, followed by a paragraph for deeper understanding. The one thing I like about Suzanne’s is that her page also functions somewhat like a resume, weaving her past experience and skills into the descriptions. I need to work on that part a bit more. Below is where I’m currently at… feedback is requested and appreciated!
DESIGN solutions that EMPOWER people to RADIATE joy!
DESIGN solutions, systems, graphics
I view design as a comprehensive word that can be adjective, noun and verb interchangeably. In today’s world, we have massive systemic problems that require intelligent, integrated solutions. With systems thinking methods, creative design processes and innovation tactics, designers will develop the path to a better future. My BFA in Interior Design, MBA in Sustainable Business and professional roles such as Graphic Designer, Web Master, and Marketing Programs Manager have given me the skills to develop holistic solutions that respect people, planet, profit and purpose while being aesthetically pleasing.
EMPOWER people, community, self
Oppression takes many forms and holds us back as individuals and communities from reaching our full potential. Through compassion, awareness and understanding we can empower ourselves and each other to overcome the oppressive forces that divide us. Whether I’m offering harm-reduction education to GLBTQ youth, working with teammates in an academic setting, or giving financial support to college students around the world, I support others in their endeavors and empower them to make educated decisions by creating personal connections, thinking holistically and sharing information.
RADIATE joy, happiness, laughter
“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.” –Eleanor Roosevelt. I enjoy life most when I am laughing. The first step toward solving many of our social problems is to get to know our neighbors and to have fun together. This is what builds relationships and thriving communities that will have the power to do great things. To truly make the world a better place, we need to smile more often, have fun, and radiate infectious joy to those around us.
It’s commonly known that food can affect our emotional state. I’m sure we all can think back to a moment, perhaps in our childhood… perhaps just yesterday, when we took the first bite of some delectable treat and couldn’t help but smile as the flavors swirled around our tongue. If you happened to be in the company of a friend, you probably even passed some over while exclaiming “you HAVE to try this,” although you secretly wanted them to take as small a bite as possible.
So, in thinking about Blog Action Day 2011′s topic of food, I thought it aligned quite well with the “radiate joy” part of this blog’s mission. Of course, it’s also commonly known that our world faces an uncertain future when it comes to food security. Just within the past week, I’ve heard a couple of stories in main stream news regarding changes we can and should make now to ensure that in the future we can support the food needs of 9 to 10 billion people on our planet. The question remains: what are the design solutions that will empower people around food so they can continue to radiate in joyous situations like the one above?
Perhaps the most important thing we can do is ensure that everyone has access to healthy, affordable food. In our country alone, it is estimated that roughly 13.5 million people live in a “,” which means that they do not have easy access to healthy, affordable food in biking or walking distance from their home. for more information about the problems of food desserts, check out the Fast Com. Design Blog post: The “Food Deserts” That Keep Americans Fat.
One step towards addressing the needs of those living in food deserts is currently in pilot testing by a team of Bainbridge Graduate Institute students here in Seattle and is so far receiving a lot of praise: Stockbox Grocers!
Stockbox Grocers responds to this need with a miniature grocery that’s tucked inside a reclaimed shipping container and placed into the parking lot of an existing business. We innovate on the espresso stand model to build stores throughout urban communities, and provide fresh produce and grocery staples to those who currently without access to good food, where they live.
I am hopeful that this innovation will start to make a sizable dent in our food desert problem here at home and can’t wait until they begin to scale. If you’re interested in learning more about Stockbox, just drop by for a visit to the their Delridge store if you’re in the Seattle area. Otherwise, follow them on Facebook and Twitter
- Stockbox Grocers to debut first mini-mini-market tomorrow (westseattleblog.com)
- stockbox grocers: shipping container grocery store (designboom.com)
- Stockbox Grocers (foodforfuture.wordpress.com)
I believe that the main way to empower individuals is through education. However, standard methods of education in the United States require both time and money that make it difficult to pick up new skills or interests outside of our daily work routines. That’s why I love the idea of Codecademy! By turning coding into a fun game and offering it free, they are empowering individuals to learn how to code who can then, in turn, use their new-found skills to make web pages, games and apps for whatever purpose they’d like.
Direct from their website:
Codecademy is the easiest way to learn how to code. It’s interactive, fun, and you can do it with your friends.
This site uses simple, clean design that encourages users to jump right in on the first page, even before becoming a member.
So the question that remains is in what ways can we apply these characteristics (fun, quick, easy, free) to other types of education or skill building?
For more about the design implications of Codecademy, checkout the Co.Design post Codecademy.com: Finally, An Interactive Coding Class That’s Fun.
I’ve decided to make my “BGI Guide Blog” posts around a couple of intersecting subjects. After TA-ing Creativity and Right Livelihood this Summer, I’ve decided to continue pursuing this topic. My favorite course at BGI thus far was Harnessing Business and Markets to Address Global Poverty. My interests around poverty alleviation and international economic development are still strong, and I look forward to weaving this into the blog as well.
I plan to use this blog as an extension of my personal brand, which at this time has advanced as far as the three words at the top of this blog and a sentence that puts them in context and aligns with my true purpose:
Design solutions that empower people to radiate joy.
while I’m still in the process of extending this statement to a richer brand and profile, for now I believe it encapsulates my passions and what I’d like to be doing in the future. Posts will revolve around the intersection of design/creativity/innovation, empowerment of individuals and communities through economic development and of course radiating joy and happiness.
A number of my previous posts already address these issues, including:
Dieter Rams shares his 10 principles of good design in this video, still relevant since he wrote them in 1985:
- Good design is innovative.
- Good design makes a product useful.
- Good design is aesthetic.
- Good design makes a product understandable.
- Good design is unobtrusive.
- Good design is honest.
- Good design is long-lasting.
- Good design is thorough down to the last detail.
- Good design is environmentally friendly.
- Good design is as little design as possible.
Two of my favorite quotes from Dieter Rams in this video:
“Design should not dominate things, dominate people; it should help people.”
“The unspectacular things are the important things… especially in the future.”
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