Designing activities, tools and pedagogies for social dreaming in Middle School education
DESIGNING learning environments for social dreaming: from inquiry to insight, and action
Role: Researcher | Project: Thesis Project in the MFA in Transdisciplinary Design, at Parsons School of Design; New York, Mumbai, Beijing and Shanghai (2015-16). Team: Ricardo Dutra and Sonali Ojha (Dreamcatchers Foundation)
When a 5-year-old child enters the education system, the world is very different from the one he will encounter at the age of fifteen. However, how much of the education system is preparing students to act in a world that is getting built? In my thesis project for the MFA in Transdisciplinary Design at Parsons School of Design, I used design thinking, civic engagement and social-emotional learning to investigate, imagine, and test preferred possibilities for the future of learning in ways that promote social agency. I investigated the reality of Middle School students in three very different contexts: Mumbai, Beijing and New York, hosting participatory workshops with teachers, students and designers. I understood that the narratives of the future young people draw upon are closely associated with their meaning-making of the present and the past, and influence their sense of agency. In this 1 year project, I designed and prototyped classroom activities that teachers could facilitate with their students, in order to explore and expand the student's perspective and sense of agency in regards to the emerging future. I also proposed a professional development framework for teachers, through online education, so they themselves could begin to leap into new frames of reference about the present and the future.
- education needs to move towards learning to create preferred futures (social dreams)
- innovation cannot be copied from one country to another, but it can spark new thinking leading to localized action
- the ability to envision alternative futures is a critical skill in the 21st century as it allows students and teachers to cope with change in generative ways