Designing learner-driven educational experiences
Agency, a person’s sense of their own capacity to have influence, is a critical skill for kids to develop. Organizations working on learner agency are radically transforming what education can look and feel like, rethinking some of the elements that feel most fundamental – what is the role of the teacher? Where does learning happen? Who drives the experience?
So when our client asked us to design a 9-month learning accelerator to bring together learner agency organizations and young people to learn from each other, to share ideas, and to create the space for collective problem-solving, we were challenged to unlearn many of the basics of a collective learning experience.
We designed a set of experiences where the participants would drive, where big aspirational ideas were balanced by immediate actions, and where the distinction between young people and adults was dissolved.
Co-creation with a traumatized community
boston public schools
The Dorchester community of Boston has seen its needs marginalized time and again. And so, when a persistently troubled school was closed with the announcement that it would be redesigned and reopened, the decision was met with skepticism, anger, and negativity.
The school redesign team included a principal who had been moved from a high performing school to this new setting; a number of teachers who were in the process of being fired, uncertain of their rehire; and school partners such as mental health care providers, unsure of the ongoing relationship, among others.
We facilitated a design process that could help this group tackle this project from a generative and positive place, ultimately envisioning the new school from a programmatic, staffing, and operational perspective, while also building structural supports and systems of accountability between the school and central office.