Design Thinking for schools

Boosting innovation in education

Thinkers Co Blog - Design Thinking for schools
Nowadays the Design Thinking methodology has become a true “buzzword” that is on everyone’s lips, it is expanding its philosophy to a large number of sectors and finding itself very present especially in the business world. On the other hand, and as a result of having been gaining strength and presence in recent years, this methodology has also begun to be taught in many business schools, with the aim of training professionals in this new creative approach of the generation ideas. But, apart from training “adult” people and being focused in one way or another towards obtaining income, are there more applications in which Design Thinking can be useful?

Design Thinking in the classroom

Without a doubt, one of them is in the world of education. Many of the current educational processes follow lines that, in many ways, have already become obsolete and do not respond to the new needs that the 21st century has generated. On many occasions, the lack of participation of students is not a cause of their inability to commit to the subject, and it is due to the outdated approach that predominates in the current teaching system. In addition to this, there are other factors such as the space where they teach and learn, the methodology, the educational resources, etc. that can slow down and hamper students’ learning experience. This leads us to ask us two initial questions: Are we adequately preparing students for the future? Are current teaching methods really adapted to new professional and social contexts?

Teachers need tools to re-imagine a new educational context, through the eyes of the students themselves.

To give an example, entities such as IDEO and Standford, standards of design culture in the world, have long undertaken a parallel journey in the integration of Design Thinking tools and their methodologies, in the pre-university academic field. In general terms, this integration is based on two lines of action:

  • Train teachers with the tools, for their use in the definition and creation of dynamics and practices in the classroom.
  • Train students with creativity development tools.

Both options are interesting paths, both can go hand in hand or unconnected, the difference is simply in the focus of action, and we are sure that in this complex time in which we live both lines of work are necessary. In addition to this, recently the consulting firm from San Francisco launched its second version of the “Design Thinking for Educators” manual online. Due to its career training professionals in the business world, its focus is more focus on teachers and their professional training through the use of tools. Therefore, in collaboration with Riverdale Country School, IDEO has created this guide and has made it available to all educators interested in experimenting with Design Thinking, as a guide specifically adapted to the context of education, empowering teachers to create solutions with impact.

Boosting innovation in schools through Design Thinking

In general lines and as we said in the previous point, both initiatives are a good reflection of the potential of the use of design in the educational field, an emerging line of work with many things to do. If we focus on training teachers in the Design Thinking methodology, the key is to give them the tools so that they can re-imagine a new educational context through the eyes of their own students. On the other hand, and if we focus on training students, the dynamics will focus on giving students tools, methods and strategies, so that they themselves enhance their resolutive, creative and reflective capacity, so that they are capable of, in the future, face the challenges to come.

In both cases, with the integration of the Design Thinking methodology to optimize educational processes and dynamics, the aim is to empower both the teacher and the student, thus providing them with the tools and guides so that they themselves design the teaching and learning environment that suits better to their needs. They more than anyone know what is wrong, and they should have the power to change it.

Students should not be just receivers of information. Why not give them the tools to learn to work with that information on their own and build on it?


At Thinkers Co. we are convinced that to want to change things and, from a more ambitious sphere, transform certain social structures, we must start with education. With this in mind for some years now, and to help spread this culture of Design Thinking, we have been developing innovation itineraries and a collaborative digital platform to put them into practice, which are giving us results in the “adult” world and that we are also adapting for the educational environment. Because we believe that the unique power of Design Thinking lies in its ability to optimize any type of system, thus democratizing its approach and tools and expanding a culture that focuses on empathy, experimentation, creativity and the ability to evaluate.

Updated at 18/12/2020

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