One of my favorite radio programs is Studio 360, where the goal is to “get inside the creative mind.” A particularly interesting segment is the Studio 360 Redesigns, where the program works with different design and marketing companies to rethink familiar cultural icons. From Monopoly to the gay pride flag to Valentine’s Day, the exercise of rethinking what has become so familiar and ubiquitous is fascinating.
Earlier this year, Studio 360 took on the project of redesigning teachers—at the request of teachers. Not the professionals themselves, but “the old-fashioned iconography that haunts their profession: blackboards, apples, chalkboards…’apple crapple.’”
Studio 360 engaged designers from Hyperakt for this project, who observed that teachers “are currently represented by uninspiring, childish visual imagery that neither reveres the profession of teaching nor does justice to the intellectual and creative development they help guide in students of all ages.”
Here is some of what they came up with:
(You can view the whole portfolio on the Hyperakt website.)
According to Hyperakt:
We began with a simple premise, that education is the key to human progress, therefore teaching is among the most important professions for humanity. Our new visual vocabulary should capture the excitement and magic of activating the potential that is innate in every student. It should celebrate the process of developing ideas, reflect the collaborative nature of teaching and pay homage to existing visual tools used in teaching.
Our solution is all about connecting the dots. Visual maps, like teachers, help learners brainstorm ideas, reveal relationships, explain processes, tell stories and much more. The visual language of these connected dots can be found in toys, in letter tracing, in classroom brainstorms, on the whiteboards of innovators, in maps, in molecular structures and beyond.
Connecting the dots allows us to create a boundless visual language that celebrates teaching and learning in a way we can all be proud of.”
I want to put these signs all over Marin Academy:
This image—conceptual, multidimensional, intentionally in-process—is a fantastic representation of where we are now at the beginning of the school year. As writer and professor Mark Van Doren stated, “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” That’s why we’re here.
In order to get ready for students, all 90+ Marin Academy employees joined alumna Coeylen Barry ’98 for a design thinking workshop this past Monday. (Read a “5 questions” interview with Coeylen from February.) We brainstormed a somewhat simple challenge—how to manage the hundreds of student backpacks and materials on campus—in order to experience and practice the design thinking process. While we came up with some very creative solutions for backpacks that we will explore further, we were also able to work together and learn a new system of teaching that we can use with students.
In addition, I’m excited that a few of our other programs will help continue the conceptual, multidimensional, and intentionally in-process way of defining or explaining education. Our Early Adopters are back on campus and poised to start experimenting with more technology in the classroom. Teachers are preparing their course pages for students and parents to interact with on Tuesday. Our new laptop carts are ready to be wheeled into different classrooms and used for various projects.
Though I’ve experienced the beginning of a school year every year for more than 30 years, it never gets old. I know I speak for everyone at MA when I say that I hope this will be the best year yet for all of our students. We’re looking forward to Tuesday!