Over the last decades, Design has changed from a narrow set of craft-based professions focusing on aesthetics and manufacturability toward a distinct set of capabilities, including problem-solving, empathy, and prototyping, which are both parts of a broad set of design professions, and also core elements for the general curriculum.
Many places are considering the OECD’s (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) vision of 21st Century Skills: a set of skills that should be in the repertoire of each citizen. A good portion of these aredesign skills: problem finding and problem-solving, with the divergent and convergent phases of creativity, working in teams, empathy (understanding the experience of others) and communication. Most of these have not received emphasis in the traditional curricula before, which often work in well-delimited framings, and where an assignment is known to have a single ‘correct’ solution. Unlike the problems in arithmetic textbooks, the design textbook has no teacher’s appendix with ‘the correct answers’. Instead, there is an emphasis on critical reflection and formative evaluation with feedback on several levels: the solution, process, and communication.
This requires for a new emphasis for teachers, and a recalibration of what we expect from pupils. For instance, on creativity: children are thought of as because they have not yet unlearned the ability to draw expressive pictures. But does that mean they can solve problems creatively? The presentation will look at these skills, experiments of teaching design in the Dutch general curriculum, and how design skills connect to the everyday thinking skills of our future citizens.
Social Innovation in Cedar Girls Secondary School plays a pivotal role in shaping the character of each child through their journey in innovating for social good. Anchored on the Design Thinking methodology, a school-wide programme has been designed and developed since 2011 to nurture in the young minds a sensitivity towards social needs and support to empower them to create user-centric solutions with a greater impact to our communities.
A journey that took flight since 2011 culminated in deeper partnerships with the National Environment Agency, Singapore Design Council, Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore Management University-Lien Centre for Social Innovation and many other voluntary welfare organisations that provided platforms not only for authentic learning opportunities to real-life context but innovations by our students that enhanced the capacity of society to act.
In 2017, the Centre for Social Innovation in Cedar Girls’ Secondary School has also been launched by Minister Ng Chee Meng with a commitment to continue to inspire, create and share practices that will instill a mindset and disposition for social causes through 3 key areas- Incubating Spaces, Nexus and Capacity Building. Another exciting chapter for Cedar's Social Innovation journey has just begun, as we forge ahead together to bring about innovations for the future of our nation.