Adam Jefford (2012 Queensland-Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt Design Museum Fellow) speaks to Design Minds about his experience in New York and the value of a learning environment that empowers students to teach each other.

Adam is the Subject Area Coordinator of Creative Design at Pimpama State Secondary College. In 2012 Adam was the fourth Queensland-Smithsonian (Cooper Hewitt) Design Museum Fellow; a program offering Queensland school teachers the opportunity to travel to the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York and work with the Cooper-Hewitt’s education department.

In late 2012, while teaching Visual Arts at his former school Windaroo Valley State High School, APDL spoke to Adam for Design Minds. During the interview Adam reflects on how design thinking and his more recent experiences at the Cooper Hewitt have allowed him to see the value of engaging the broader community with students through ‘real-world’ learning projects:

“When students and community members have that opportunity to speak and have their voice heard the projects became so much richer than they would have been if they were just teacher-led or school-led.”

By empowering students to lead and direct their own learning, Adam believes teachers have an opportunity not only to enrich the classroom experiences of students but also create a more rewarding teaching experience for themselves:

“Design Thinking…has helped me acknowledge that there are 25 or 30 different knowledge-sets in my classroom…and they all have a unique perspective…on the understandings that we’re all exploring together.”

Adam stresses that introducing design thinking into the classroom can be as simple as starting with a few post-it notes and pencils and encouraging students to share their ideas in a more democratic and empathetic way then the traditional ‘hand up’ response.

Finally, he urges teachers to make the most of what the Design Minds platform has to offer by encouraging teachers to not just “receive it passively but to take it on, to think about it and to feed back into the loop.”

As Adam says, through Design Thinking and Design Minds, “…together we can collaborate and build a bright design future.” We agree.

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