There’s a lot of buzz these days about the importance of creativity, and the fact that many studies suggest schools are actually sucking the creativity out of students by focusing on achievement and standardized test scores instead of creative pursuits. (This is a key point made in the documentary Race to Nowhere which is currently screening around the country and generating passionate discussions in the process. If you have a chance to see it, it’s definitely worth a watch!)
I believe wholeheartedly that today’s teens need to not only retain the creativity they had as kids, but that schools have a responsibility to help foster this creativity throughout middle school and high school. Teens don’t need to memorize a bunch of facts…they need to connect with their abilities to see things differently, be open to input from others, and come up with unique solutions to problems, big and small.
So loved reading this article in Fast Company about a group of eighth graders at the School of Columbia in NYC who got to tap into their inner creative design gurus and flex their creative muscles through a unique opportunity. Rinat Aruh, of the New York industrial design studio Aruliden, and Jerry Helling of company Bernhardt Design, led a free workshop for students called “Tools for Schools,” where students learned how design works by creating furniture for the classroom of the future. They tackled things like classroom chairs, desks, and lockers, and used their new design knowledge to come up with creative approaches to these school staples…approaches that were fresh, cutting-edge, and addressed challenges the students experience every day in their classrooms.
The results were pretty amazing.They came up with a new classroom chair, one that allowed for noiseless fidgeting, swiveled, moved up and down, and had storage space on the back to easily stow books. One of the desks they brainstormed had a “writable surface” so they could doodle on it (and not waste paper in the process) as well as interchangeable trays to hold things like art supplies, pencils…even a potted plant. When they looked at how they could design a better locker, they focused on the fact that these tiny metal closets are in essence their school “bedrooms for the year,” and thought about ways to incorporate more creative storage options and personal touches.
I love that these teens were empowered to look at these objects they spend so much time with every day through fresh eyes and use their newly honed design skills to seek creative alternatives…I mean, just think about the possibilities when they apply these creative skills to addressing challenges in the future!
To see pictures of the completed prototypes from these impressive teens, visit the gallery here.