Traditionally, challenges such as how to sustain district reform, how to build a leadership pipeline, how to create an integrated project, or how to best intervene with struggling students would be resolved with a team of “experts” developing a solution in isolation of the stakeholders involved. By contrast, design thinking centers on the knowledge and experiences of those on the front lines—in the same spirit as student-centered learning, differentiation, and other user-centered approaches in education.
Rice suggests that to best impact systemic challenges, design thinking should be practiced as part of an aligned set of focused priorities across schools and districts. To nurture a culture of innovation, district leadership should thoughtfully integrate design thinking into already-existing appropriate structures including strategic planning forums, curriculum development sessions, and teacher and principal leadership development.
A new book, Global Education Reform: How Privatization and Public Investment Influence Education Outcomes, provides a powerful analysis of these different ends of an ideological spectrum – from market-based experiments to strong state investments in public education.