marlborough college

teaching design and creativity

As part of a 2-week teaching internship at Marlborough College, a premier high school in the UK, my goal was to teach students in year 10 how to be creative. Since the students focus on problem-solving and hard skills, they rarely had the opportunity to let their ideas fly. I created a 50-minute lesson that included defining creativity, how it relates to design, and conducting 3 exercises to teach the "rules" of creativity. Below are examples of the lecture and the outcomes from the students. 

To download the entire lecture, please click here:
The first exercise taught the students the value of pushing your ideas further than just solving the problem. By making it a competition of who has the most ideas and only 3 minutes to write/draw them down, the students had to think outside the box. The general pattern was to get out all the relevant ideas at first and then they hit a wall. However, one person would say something or see something and new ideas formed. Those second batch of ideas were incredibly creative. 
Some of the interesting toy ideas for space themed cereal were: a David Bowie action figure, a vacuum, a marble version of the solar system, and a packet of star dust.
The second exercise had the students redefine what they visualize as a desk. The common pattern was to build something rectangular with a chair. However, the students played with materials and the size of the desk. 
Example of the one of the desks drawn
The second design exercise's purpose was to push the limits of what is a desk. Just because a typical desk is rectangular and on four legs, doesn't mean that all desks must look like that. With new technology, desks can be virtual seen through Google Glass (for example). This led to the concept of reframing and the value of design- seeing what others miss. 
The final exercise had the students build on each others ideas without talking, or in other words, design within a boundary. This was a particularly funny exercise because many of the students would be flabbergasted at what their partner was drawing. However, the final cars drawn were incredibly interesting. 
I conducted the lecture with 3 sets of students and it was successful each time. The ideas they came up with were highly creative and very, very different. They learned how thinking more about a problem instead of going with the first solution created more innovative ideas. The freedom of the lesson also allowed the students try something different and not be afraid of failure. It was satisfying to hear that they enjoyed the lesson and learn how they were going to use these creativity "rules" in their current projects. 
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