Consumers or Creators?

Over the last few days I have been thinking about an article that was shared with me last week on Twitter.

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How can design thinking be used in classrooms to help students achieve the skill sets and mindsets needed in 2016?

From @eduwells Richard Wells
From @eduwells Richard Wells

In his book, The Global Achievement Gap, Dr. Tony Wagner outlined the skills all students now need to succeed (The Seven Survival Skills)

  1. Critical thinking and problem solving
  2. Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
  3. Agility and adaptability
  4. Initiative and entrepreneurship
  5. Accessing and analyzing information
  6. Effective oral and written communication
  7. Curiosity and imagination.

In his 2012 book, Creating Innovators, Dr. Wagner states that these skills are now critical but not sufficient to thrive in today’s world.

There are other qualities of innovators that are essential, such as

  1. Perseverence
  2. Willingness to experiment, take risks and tolerate failure
  3. The capacity for design thinking

Design thinking, requires these essential abilities:

  1. Empathy
  2. Integrative thinking
  3. Optimism
  4. Experimentalism – exploring problems and possible solutions in new and creative ways (Creating Innovators, 2012, Chapter 3)

How can we bring this thinking into the classroom?

In an environment focused on school and board improvement for raising test scores, how do we transform our thinking and turn our students into creators instead of consumers?

Richard Wells provides an infographic and a quick guide to starting design thinking and planning in the classroom.

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In addition, the FourSight Creative Problem Solving Model provides another structure for helping students tackle problems in new ways.

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From Foursight Technical Manual on Validity,


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From Strategic and Innovative Leadership, Schulich School of Business, York University, March 2016

At the BIT15 conference, closing keynote speaker Heidi Siwak introduced the work she is doing with students around integrative thinking.

Heidi’s post this weekend helped me to understand the urgency of changing how we think about what is important not only in our classrooms, but in the environments where those of us who support classroom educators think of how best to move forward.

From Heidi Siwak, The Very Strange World of Adult Problem Solving,
From Heidi Siwak, The Very Strange World of Adult Problem Solving,


In a culture, where BIPSAs and SIPSAs determine the inch we focus on, and where adults learned to thrive in an outdated system, how do we best move forward with trying to support our students in becoming creators instead of consumers?




Canada’s First National Digital Talent Strategy Paves the Way Forward for an Innovative and Globally Connected Economy (March 2016)

Roger Martin: The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the next Competitive Advantage

Roger Martin: The Opposable Mind (Integrative Thinking)

Harvard Macy Systems Approach to Assessment

How Do You Know When Students Are Learning? –  David Truss


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