I was reading this article about a group of industrious young women who wanted to transform their neighborhood. They didn’t know how they were going to use the abandoned vacant lot in their community, just that they were going to design something to bring back hope to their area. Instead of sitting inside a building somewhere to plan their design, they just set up their planning space beside the lot and started there. What they found is that in doing that, they got buy-in from the community as well as ideas, feedback, support and help from people in the neighborhood who were keen to be a part of the project.
Move your design studio, or your classroom, or your city hall meeting, to the sidewalk. When you’re designing and building incredible things in public that no one thinks are possible—not just doing an art project or a mosaic, but actually solving a problem—people are inspired to come up to you and ask questions, and share advice or offer resources. There’s a seamless feedback loop with the community.
In my last school, we had a large atrium space that I would often utilize for group work. In doing so, I would get the kids out the classroom and into a space where people could stop by and ask them what they were working on. Other teachers used this space too and it is fast becoming less of an atrium and more of an “ideas pit” in which students can share their work and solicit new ideas and feedback on their projects.
How can we make this bigger?
Often we look for connections to our units for field trips. In an international setting where language can sometimes be a barrier, such trips may not be possible for all units. But what about taking a trip to the town center when planning your own city? Or going to a local park for ideas on shared space usage? What if the field trip was less about going to a particular museum or gallery and more about being out in the community and seeing what evolves from thinking visibly in a shared space?
How will you make learning more visible this year?