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Design Thinking for Educators

Haiyen Pham

· design thinking,heart hand head,innovation

On 21 June 2018, School of Gumption was honored to partner the Director of Design For Change, Singapore to co-design and co-facilitate a one-day Design Thinking workshop for a primary school in the East. The aim of this workshop was to empower 30 innovation champions, including teachers, middle managers and school leaders to lead and build innovation culture in the school.

One of SoG’s underlying believes was that each of us hold a deep inner wisdom and an unlimited creative source within, when it comes to innovation for a purpose. As such, in designing the workshop, we focused a lot in facilitating the environment and conditions for our participants to access their intelligence of the heart, connecting back to the original purpose of why the participants have chosen education as their careers on the first day.

We selected role play on user interview to bring out the deepest empathy in the participants’ hearts. One participant from each group was requested to step into the being of their “user”, truly living the thought, feeling, behaviors and languages, while the others would assume the roles of interviewers and observers. These educators suddenly realized with the depth of their being how “difficult” pupils were struggling with the lack of parental care, the feeling these pupils had when being transferred to a new school. The role-play interview successfully opened the mind and the heart of all the participants with a radical insight “We thought we understand; now we realize we don’t”.

We also guided the participants through a mindful envisioning process, when we requested the participants to sit comfortably with their eyes closed, and visualize a desired future that they wish to create for their pupils. What do change look like? Do you see your pupils there? What are they doing? What are the looks on their faces? Do you feel what they feel? Connect to your feeling now when you see the looks on your pupils’ faces? How do you feel now? What if you can bring about that change for your pupils? Now, open your eyes and sketch a collective vision of what you visualized with your group.


Silence across the room. Participants were so connected to their feeling. I have never felt such a sense of deep love vibrating through a room having 30 educators. All of us know, we are here to make changes for a purpose.

And indeed, a strong sense of purpose fueled the buzzing discussion and enthusiastic prototype building later on.

After the one-day workshop on Design Thinking with these passionate educators, I thought about innovation as very much the work of the heart, the hand and the head together. In building the culture of innovation, we need to facilitate the environment when people are often connected to their heart’s purpose, for it is the pathway that opens the door for the head and the hands to build a better future for all.

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