CHENNAI: India’s education system is still stuck making clerks and blue-collar workers, pointed out Shourya Doval, Director of India Foundation. Debating whether design thinking could be applied to education, Doval said, “If we look at pre-independence India, the basic element of our system was to produce working class people for colonial masters. Even now, that education system continues.”
Agreeing with the assessment, Achuthsankar S Nair of University of Kerala said that the system needed to evolve. “There is a role for design thinking in education to convert our clerks to thought leaders,” he said.
In the past, design occurred downstream in the development process and focused on making new products attractive and more innovative.
Design thinking is a methodology that involves identifying issues and resolving problems.
Thinking like a designer can transform the way one develops products, services, processes and even strategies. However, the rote-learning approach implemented by many schools prevent students from exploring the creativity inherent in them — which can be overcome by applying design thinking.
But the question here arises — can this educational method be applied universally to students in different schools and age groups? “Unless you have the design, you will never be able to create anything. Education should be no different in that aspect. IT training at IIT is given through spoken tutorial which is a design thinking model to provide IT skills,” said Kannan Moudgalya, Professor, IIT Bombay. Students who attended the tutorial had higher self-confidence than those who attended the regular lectures, he added.
Design education will bring about a culture of innovation as it involves identifying the problem and then brainstorming and resolving it. “Someone in science and technology field can apply design thinking. It is perhaps not suitable at the school level. But a couple of ideas from design thinking are relevant across the spectrum. Rather than lecture-based education, students should identify problems by brainstorming,” said Achuthsankar S Nair.
However, there are possible implementation barriers in applying design thinking to education. Students do not have the required design thinking tools, which may cause this method to be inefficient as compared with ordinary learning methods.