We know we’re creating problems that the next generation will be left to fix, so the least we can do is to give them the skills to fix them, and yet we’re still failing on a grand scale. The good news is that we’re discovering new ways to help them work out how to do this for themselves.

Design Ethnography is  a discipline which teaches you how to observe what people do in order to identify hidden needs for which you can design new solutions. It’s one of a group of skills that have never been part of the early educational curriculum before. Recent experiments in imparting these skills using ‘game dynamics’ show that it’s astonishingly easy to quickly turn places where learning motivation is often almost unattainable into a hive of surprisingly self-motivated promising design-thinking innovators.

Here’s a team talking about doing this kind of thing in Pittsburgh


Here’s the introduction to the first video:

What if there were a basic literacy, beyond reading, writing, and arithmetics that we missed, or that wasn’t really necessary until this moment in our history? What if that new literacy were MORE important than STEM education to the future of our children? Or if it helped rationalize STEM and SEL (social, emotional, learning) in a way that organized these two, at times mutually exclusive, threads of critical thinking? What if other countries were figuring it out and America was caught fighting over educational approaches mired in philosophies and patterns suited for the 1900s instead of the 21st century and missed the boat entirely? What if it fostered thinking so that kids could grow up to be critical, creative, collaborative, and resilient? What if you did something about it before it’s too late?

Here’s the speaker’s bio from that video:

Mickey McManus is president, CEO, and principal of MAYA Design, Inc., a technology design and innovation lab focused on meeting the needs of people in the connected world. To maximize opportunities for innovation at the intersection of users and information, he leads a team of cognitive psychologists, ethnographers, computer scientists, mathematicians, visual and industrial designers, architects, and filmmakers. This team works with a range of clients from Fortune 500 global companies to foundations, government organizations, and startups.

In 2005, Mickey spearheaded the launch of MAYA’s Pervasive Computing practice, which focuses on ways to take connected experiences out of the lab and into the marketplace through smart products, services, and environments.

Here’s an introduction to the second video:

This 8 minute film documents two one-day sessions with a wide ranging group of people who are passionate about kids and creativity. Participants included teachers, community leaders, artists, representatives from the public television station that brought the world “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood,” game designers from Disney, computer scientists from Carnegie Mellon, and leaders from non-profit organizations. This session was sponsored by the Grable Foundation and held in Pittsburgh, PA in July 2010. The goal was to foster a shared vision and identify potential projects around the kids & creativity movement.