Note: If you want to follow the students and a live social feed of today's events check out our tag board, #DSXOAK.
If you could completely re-design the school experience, giving students the greatest possible creative agency, how would you do it?
That's what d.school edu fellow David Clifford is prototyping in West Oakland this weekend during his design sprint. David is a self-described "agitator" who "love[s] to mess with old ideas."
"The thing that we're trying to do is redesign high school for the 21st century kid to help them navigate and affect change in the 21st century," said David.
"The current school model is still building kids to navigate the 19th and 20th century." That model is meant to "manage humanity instead of inspire it."
The Design School X prototype is an attempt to test a number of assumptions around re-designing the school experience. David set out to create a school "to build in our students the agency to affect change, agility to seek out and navigate complex dilemmas and access to one's purpose and character."
That's according to the Tumblr he created, chronicling his ideas, inspiration and work in the lead-up to this weekend in West Oakland.
David chose The Crucible as the home for his prototype -- a maker space to end all maker spaces. The Crucible, a nonprofit industrial arts education facility, houses tools and machinery for everything from carpentry to glass blowing and leather working. It also offers classes, offering access to some of the The Crucible also has close ties to the d.school, since it was founded by Michael Sturtz, a d.school lecturer and Director of Redesigning Theater.
Twelve boys have been brought to this dynamic, artistic space to participate in the prototype, which will only last Saturday and Sunday. This iteration will, at any rate.
The day began with a mingling session over a light breakfast. Then, the school launched with introductions and a series of warm-up exercises led by Sam. Then the boys were presented with the rules of the road.
"The adults are not going to be in this space," David told the boys, "the idea is we're testing what you guys do when adults aren't around."
He further charged the boys with documenting their entire process and determine when they wished to take breaks. David also presented the "catalysts", adults the students could call on to help them with their challenges along the way. These catalysts were from as far away as Greece and Senegal.
"We don't have teachers in this school, we have catalysts," said David. "We are here to help you realize ... your purpose."
Once the boys were divided into teams, they were then presented with a "Dilemma" and "Context" on playing cards. One team had the dilemma of "Design the ultimate teacher" with the context of simply "Ferguson." Another team was charged with designing "a new to the world sport" with the context being "at an intersection".
The third team was given the dilemma of "a white police officer and a black youth" with the context of "in a cafe". The fourth team was given the dilemma of "a political campaign for a candidate" and the context of "in feudal Japan".
The students are currently working, with lunch just around the corner. Oh, and yes, they have to decide what's for lunch as a group in addition to deciding when they take breaks.
Students have been working diligently all late morning and into the afternoon. Lunch has come and gone with burritos winning out over pizza as the chosen meal.
The teams are now putting together their experiences and prototypes, leveraging the help of the catalysts (d.school fellows and Susie) here at The Crucible and around the world. They will complete today's work before 3:00pm and, following a quick debrief, will be released for the rest of the day.
Class convenes again tomorrow morning for its last and final day.
But, before that, students are continuing to work, going down the street to the local food cooperative and, yes, even the local liquor store to test their prototypes -- some are games, and there is at least one parable.
The day's events have highlighted two things:
- The value of free, open time in learning. Students may seem like they are goofing off from a distance. Look closely, though, and you will see they are researching storytelling, game design and testing the laws of physics.
- The other element challenged is control. Where traditional classrooms my have teachers focusing on how best to gain and maintain control, David is testing the power of trust and stepping back.
We'll be following and updating the story of Design School X here. Meanwhile, if you have questions or are interested in following along check out the hashtag #DSXOAK on Twitter and tweet to us there or at @stanforddschool.
And that's a wrap for day one.