This halfway point of the school year gives us a well-deserved pause point where we can take stock of our accomplishments in serving our students, teachers, and families and look ahead to the challenges that remain.
Reviewing the past few months, we are proud of what our students have learned, and we are equally proud of the unique way in which we have taught them. Most of our student projects are premised on a process known as design thinking, where real life problems are solved and ideas are turned into real products and services through a repeatable process of ideation, prototyping, and iteration. This process not only creates a culture of experimentation, thus expanding our students’ capacity for innovation, it teaches children to enter learning by first employing deep empathy with those in need of a solution.
When engaged with fidelity, the design thinking process is a rigorous one that truly engages students in deeper learning. This kind of learning asks a great deal of students. At an age when they are naturally driven by self-centeredness, Vandermont asks students to devote their attention to helping others. We believe this is one of the greatest lessons a person can learn.
By using design thinking to educate children, we are teaching students to follow God’s original design and desire for creation. This seems to be the missing ingredient in today’s educational system. School is not supposed to be about just getting through but helping children flourish, and design thinking is pivotal in this goal. Design thinking is more open than analytical thinking. It typically deals with situations where we don’t know how everything works. It often concerns problems where the goals are not well defined. Students are forced to not only take in information but to learn to relate with one another. Design thinking requires judgement and wisdom, attributes which are biblical in nature.
The student as designer must choose his or her vision for each Quest. The connection with Christianity is apparent. The student designer works in a way that is analogous to the way God works - with purpose. Deep within each one of us is a hunger to live a life of significance and purpose. God has entrusted us with certain resources, gifts and abilities. At Vandermont, we refer to these as our God-given strengths. We are aware that these things rightfully belong to Him. Our responsibility is to educate children by managing these gifts well according to His design and desire.
At Vandermont, we believe the “why” of our work is to bring God’s design and desire for His creation to our students. God is often referred to as The Great Designer or The Creator. In deeply understanding how humans make and use things, design-thinking acts as a catalyst to allow us to be better at being human while doing the very human thing – the very God-like thing – of making.
We readily accept that mathematics and gravity are “true” and “of God”. In the same way, the truthfulness of design-thinking and invention glorifies God. What better way would there be to educate His children?