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One class that I always thought would be meaningful, impactful, and highly visible to the community would be a Social Impact elective course. This would basically be a student-driven genius hour but focused heavily on the Contribution item in Section B of the 4 Shifts Protocol to include a community impact focus.
We could integrate some design thinking concepts at the beginning such as identifying a problem or challenge in the community, conducting empathy interviews, and beginning to prototype solutions. We probably would require a partnership with an external expert or organization. And there should be a highly-publicized exhibition at the end of the semester. I think that schools would see students do some PHENOMENAL work as they lean into areas of interest or concern in their local community as positive change-makers.
Such a course could occur at any grade level, but might be particularly valuable in middle or high school as students begin to search for more relevance in their school experience. I know a number of deeper learning schools that are doing similar work through teacher-created projects. These projects would be more student-initiated and -driven, and the elective course format might be a relatively easy on ramp for more traditional schools that aren't well-versed in deeper learning but would like to start creating some different opportunities for students. In addition to building students' efficacy as real world difference-makers, these experiences also would be fantastic additions to students' job or college applications.
Your thoughts? Know anyone currently doing this?
Hi Scott and all,
If I understand you properly, we at Junípero Serra High School in San Mateo, California, are doing this. The course is called Creative Solutions for the Global Good. There are no tests nor papers, and the students focus on one individually chosen and designed project over the school year. They learn the IDEO/Stanford d.school version of design thinking principles along the way, and present their projects to a global audience at the end of the spring semester.
Happy to discuss this more if that's of interest.
We do a lot of charitable work at the school and are involved with a lot of fundraising initatives globally, Including working with United World Schools. But I don't think we do enough locally as you describe it. I think we have barriers in terms of language and society in general. Tokyo runs pretty smoothly, but there are definitely areas that we could support in, but the paperwork to do that can be a barrier, especially in terms of getting the children involved and giving them more agency. We do normally have a group of kids every year who take it upon themselves to fight for a cause, but it would be good to open it up and offer time and resources to support any student who may be interested.
I've done some successful design process tasks with a focus on global goals, but with limited time in the curriculum we don't really get far in the share stage, other than some sort of awareness raising - it would be great to have more time to take the ideas that step further and get it out and be impactful.
You must have seen some good examples on your travels Scott? I agree that there is often a sense of pride amongst students who take on a role in isocial issues, sometimes far greater than scoring well on a test.
Food for thought as always, thanks for sharing.