Shops Class and Design Thinking

How we define Design Thinking and how does woodworking contribute?

We believe that skills to think of a business idea or innovate a product, to develop a business plan, to find ways to raise capital  all – stem from shifting students from a consumer mindset to a creator mindset.

The tool we use to initiate this shift in our classrooms is by using the design thinking cycle. 

Design Thinking and Woodworking

Design thinking is a non-linear, iterative process that students use to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to prototype and test. Involving five phases—Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test—it is most useful to tackle problems that are ill-defined or unknown.Design thinking at schools can manifest when students are encouraged to research on real world problems and develop working prototypes of the solutions proposed, using the a variety of tools such as 3D printing, laser-cutting, wearable tech, etc. 

The tools that enable students to engage authentically with the design process is not always technical in nature. We use tools that scaffold students’ comfort level with the creative process by using a no technology – low technology – high technology scale. That is where woodworking as a skill comes in! Woodworking by virtue of the physical nature of the tools allows for ample opportunities for learning communities to develop within a class or a maker space, where more experienced others can scaffold novices through the practice. An accessible woodworking station/studio would reduce the barriers of entry to working with the tools by activating multiple learning pathways for students to access to explore their interests in a non – intimidating environment.