Student View: Design Thinking and its Importance for 21st Century Leaders

by Jaxon Gonzalez (7th Grade)

When it comes to being an IB student, innovation and design thinking are two very important attributes. They not only help a student to better understand what they are learning but can also help them go above and beyond in the work that they are doing. These skills are not only useful in the classroom, they are also skills that are desired by employers all around the world. But, to understand how the design cycle works and why it is significant for a 21st century learner like me, design thinking must first be understood.

What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is one of the newest and most creative approaches to problem solving. It is often organized as a cycle, thus called the design cycle. Here is one way it is often organized:

  1. Analyzing the problem and the client by:
  • Identifying the exact problem
  • Researching the client and need for a solution
  1. Developing several rough drafts of possible solutions by:
  • Creating design specifications that will make the product successful
  • Constructing several rough drafts that meet those specifications, not too detailed, as the chosen idea will be expanded on more
  1. Choosing the final design. To do this, it is important to take into account what information was researched in the first step. What is the client’s problem? Which solution best fits the client’s needs? Once the design is chosen:
  • Creating the solution, frequently checking the design specifications to make sure that the product still complies with them.
  1. Evaluate the product; this is one of the attributes that makes the design cycle special. Evaluating the product consists of:
  • Constructing effective ways to test the product. These tests can be things such as using the product to test its functionality or asking consumers what they think about the product.
  • Comparing the product, along with the tests, to the design specifications to see which aspects of the product are right and which are either better or worse than what the specifications said.

Once both tests are completed and the product has been compared to the design specifications it is time to iterate the design and start the cycle over again. This may be repeated until the product is perfect!

This method of thinking, designing and testing through a problem may seem tedious or too long of a process, but it can save valuable time and money. Design thinking is special because it puts the user/consumer first and lets them shape the product, not the other way around.

Benefits of Design Thinking in the Classroom

Design thinking is important to teach any student learning in the 21st century. Here are just a few of the benefits of design thinking:

  • Design thinking teaches students like me to be open-minded and balanced by not being focused on creating just one idea but several, even if they are not all great. This is much more efficient than focusing all of the time on creating one idea that might not even be centered on what the client requested; it can lead to several good ideas that are discovered with open and outward thinking.
  • At the core of design thinking is empathy, getting to know and understand the user. Empathy is something that everyone should have, and by teaching it through design thinking, we can develop empathy while not even realizing it.
  • Design thinking encourages us to be creative and solve problems in new ways!

The world may still be getting used to design thinking, but as its popularity and value increase amongst more and more people worldwide, using it may become inevitable. My middle school classmates at the Magellan International School should feel proud that the IB MYP curriculum already incorporates these techniques in our design course, and next year, all of our students will be learning about design thinking from Preschool through 8th grade!



Originally published at Magellan International School.