Listening and Learning with Design Thinking

October 1 was pretty much a perfect day to be outside, but despite the gorgeous weather, about 30 students, parents, educators and other community members gathered at story booth, across the street from Crosstown Concourse, to participate in the first-ever Crosstown High Design Thinking Workshop.

Design Thinking is a way of tackling challenges by listening deeply to your end users to find out what they want and need out of a product or experience. In our case…high school! From the beginning, the Crosstown High design team has sought input from the community to learn how we can create a high school that will engage students in meaningful learning to prepare them for their futures. The Design Thinking Workshop helped us continue this deep listening process.

Click photo to watch our Design Thinking Workshop Video!

Click photo to watch our Design Thinking Workshop Video!

Click photo to watch our Design Thinking Workshop Video!


So, what did we learn from the students during the workshop? 

  • They want opportunities to form real relationships with teachers and administrators. They need spaces where they can interact with adults and form mentorships (and friendships). Students want less time spent reviewing rules and codes of conduct — “it is distracting and shifts the focus from learning to policing.”
  • Students want more focus on incorporating “the outside world.” They seek opportunities to help the community as part of their curriculum, and to participate in clubs centered around “what we really care about” such as sustainability, gender issues, civil rights, and urban art. They also want more events and initiatives involving other Memphis schools.
  • A school’s physical environment and surrounding spaces are really important. Inside, students want lots of natural light and spaces that are comfortable and inviting — that means no rows of cramped desks. They crave big rooms with space to move around in, in which they can study in different ways (alone andcollaboratively). It’s also important that there be a place where they can get outside and get fresh air.
  • Students want to learn in new ways. They asked for alternatives to the lecture model — more discussions and debate. They want hands-on learning experiences.
  • Downtime is important — they need time during the school day to take a breather. And that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to get away from teachers. One student asked for a student and teacher lounge!

Are you a student? What do you hope to see in Crosstown High? Leave your reply below!

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