In a world where more and more things are becoming digital and automated, certain skills are becoming more valuable. These include structured problem solving, time management and prioritisation skills, the ability to apply and adapt knowledge in different contexts, active listening, teamwork and reasoning. It is increasingly important to prepare children for a rapidly changing reality where flexibility, courage and creativity are paramount. And if we want tomorrow’s adults to think like entrepreneurs, engineers or artists, we need to give them the opportunity, as students, to invent real projects and find ways to implement them.
This is the starting point of the European Innovatory project, which gives students the opportunity to train and develop the skills they need to succeed in the future. It is an initiative where they can try out their ideas without fear, think about them in a safe space and test themselves in situations they have never experienced before. Throughout the process, they will receive constructive feedback from their mentor teachers.
On Saturday 22 April, 13 teachers from Cluj-Napoca were introduced to Design Thinking, a method at the heart of the European Innovatory vision. Timi Grunzó introduced the method to the teachers. As practical knowledge is better embedded than mere theory, the teachers themselves tried out how Design Thinking can trigger creative thinking.
Design Thinking is a creative way of thinking. “Design Thinking is a human-centred approach to innovation that draws on the designer’s toolkit to combine the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the demands of success and efficiency.” – says Tim Brown, principal of IDEO, a Silicon Valley consultancy. He has played a key role in developing this way of thinking.
What does it mean in practice?
The process is really a series of 5 steps that build on each other, but if necessary you can safely go back to a previous step and rethink the problem or solution.
- First, you need to get to know the community, the target group for whom you are taking the initiative.
- Then you need to define the need, the problem, the situation that you want to change, improve, respond to in some way.
- This is perhaps the most liberating step: come up with as many ideas as possible that could provide a solution. There is no wrong answer, feel free to say any idea! The point is to explore all the possibilities.
- You choose one of the ideas and start developing it, creating a prototype. The important thing is to make the idea a reality, not to perfect the product, the project, the initiative. And a prototype can be a model, a mock-up, a situation, a scenario, really anything.
- What you create needs to be tested! Give it to others, let them try it, let them give their opinion. Based on that, you can go back to the prototyping stage if necessary and tweak, tweak, tweeze, even discard and start again until you get the best end result.
Teachers have seen for themselves how liberating this method can be. In their own schools, they will help teams of 3-5 students work for a month to take young people step by step from identifying a problem in their environment, to testing ideas, to choosing the best solution.
We look forward to hearing the students’ ideas!
Our partners in the implementation of the European Innovatory project initiated by PONT are Municipio de Braga (Portugal), Mladinski kulturni center Maribor (Slovenia), Omilos UNESCO Neon Thessalonikis (Greece), Municipio de Cascais (Portugal), omladinski savez udruzenja Novi Sad (Serbia), omladinka prestonica Evrope – OPENS (Serbia), Lietuvos verslo kolegija (Lithuania). The project is supported by the European Union through the Erasmus+ programme.