Our Piper at the Gates of Dawn

David Jakes
David Jakes, Digital Strategist / Learning Space Designer / Provocateur

Yesterday, July 16th, a small contingent of Northfield Community School staff and a few key community members gathered to question, discuss, explore and design the foundation of a new experience for Northfield Middle School students. I’m referring of course to my new “class,” Technology, Engineering & Design, the subject of this blog.

So, how might we, as a group, undertake something like this?  What could we possibly expect to accomplish? In a single DAY?

As it would turn out, more than we could possibly have ever imagined.

The Invitation

This is just the first in a series of blog posts where I will unpack and reflect on the events of the day. It’s also going to be the shortest. I am literally scrambling to get ready to spend a week in Vermont helping lead a passionate group of educators through some explorations of our own.

My most meaningful, most immediate takeaways:

The Way Forward
Embracing the Squiggle … and The Way Forward

1) Get professional help

Three years ago, I designed an entirely new learning space – the K4STEMLAB – essentially on my own. Though I had many friends, colleagues and people I’ve never met give me terrific advice, and I’m still very proud to this day of what we built, attempting THIS process without the help of an experienced professional would have been disastrous. The pace yesterday – a half day work session followed by several hours of intense synthesis – considering what we achieved (I am so excited I can barely contain myself) – is literally staggering.


2) Invite the best people you can find, challenge them, then get out of the way

We are blessed with great leaders – in school administration, in our classrooms and in our community. Brilliant thinkers, passionate artists, experienced educators, driven by the pursuit of excellence for our students. I can’t say enough about the people who attended yesterday – especially now – but I will try, and soon. Promise.

In a nutshell.
In a nutshell.

3) Q: What’s the best way to design a learning experience for students built upon design thinking? A: use Design Thinking.

I can’t stress this enough. Yesterday I experienced design thinking for the first time. Intensely. Critically. Profoundly. As a result I now have a far, far better understanding of Design as Pedagogy than I did previously. I still consider myself at “the base of the mountain” but at least I now have the skills and equipment necessary to climb confidently – and lead others, too.

Done for the day.
Done for the day.

When we wrapped up for the day, I couldn’t believe what we accomplished. I still can’t.

We, together, created a sweeping architecture, a powerful framework, a rock-solid, one-of-a-kind foundation for our new program, “Technology, Engineering & Design.”

What does that look like?

You’ll have to wait for another blog post.

It’s called a MANIFESTO.

And it’s #$(*&!@()*&!@)#(& incredible.


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