School tends to be about teaching to the test and addressing each standard more than finding real-world authentic learning experiences. How do we shake up the system so kids address what they need to know and what they want to learn? What does that mean for “school” now? We talk about the importance of voice and choice but how do we encourage learners of all ages to discover their purpose for learning so they own and drive it. Learners need relevant, authentic applications.
On January 1st, 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by UN world leaders were adopted in an international effort to meet the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Each SDG has resources that include research, videos, facts and figures, lessons and targets to reach the goals by the year 2030. The 17 Global Goals impact all of us especially children today. When even young learners realize that the SDGs involve authentic learning experiences, they will want to get involved so they can make a difference locally and globally.
What if we redesign our existing curriculum to create a learner-centered approach around the SDGs?
We can do this using the Design Thinking Process which starts with empathy. Start with the World’s Largest Lesson and have your kids use design thinking to identify a group of people and choose one of the Global Goals to research. The following information was adapted from the dschool at Stanford: https://dschool.stanford.edu/
Let’s take the main ideas of the 2030 goals which are to see how all of us can be the change.
Empathize: Who is your audience?
“To create meaningful innovations or solutions, you need to know your audience and care about their lives.”
- Review the Global Goals and see if there is a group of people you would like to learn more about.
- Would it be better to start locally before globally? If so, who have you identified?
- Have you thought of focusing on yourself first?
Define: What is the problem?
“Framing the right problem is the only way to create the right solution.”
- Define one Global Goal as the problem
- Choose one of the targets for that goal to address
- Identify the point-of-view to frame the problem
- Craft a meaningful, actionable problem statement
- Capture the hearts and minds of your audience
Ideate: What are some possibilities?
“It’s not about coming up with the ‘right’ idea, it’s about generating the broadest range of possibilities.”
- Harness the collective perspectives of your team
- Uncover unexpected areas and solutions to explore
- Push for the widest possible range of ideas
- Encourage many ideas and discourage judgment
Prototype: What can you do or create to solve the problem?
“The prototype is the iterative generation of artifacts intended to answer questions to get you closer to your final solution.”
- To problem solve.
- To communicate.
- To fail quickly and cheaply.
- To test possibilities as if you are right.
- To manage the solution-building process.
Test: What you can learn about your solution?
“Testing is an opportunity to learn about your solution and your user.”
- To invite feedback.
- To learn more about your audience.
- To test as if you are wrong.
- To refine prototypes and solutions.
After you review the design thinking process, you may realize your students may want to start with themselves and may ask you what they can do even at home to make a difference. The UN created a page where anyone can take action.
Things you can do on your couch:
- Save electricity by plugging appliances into a power strip and turning them off completely when not in use, including your computer.
- Stop paper bank statements and pay your bills online or via mobile. No paper, no need for forest destruction.
- Speak up! Ask your local and national authorities to engage in initiatives that don’t harm people or the planet. You can also voice your support for the Paris Agreement.
- Don’t print. See something online you need to remember? Jot it down in a notebook or better yet a digital post-it note and spare the paper.
- Turn off the lights. Your TV or computer screen provides a cozy glow, so turn off other lights if you don’t need them.
There are 2 more levels with many bullet points. Invite your students to start with Level 1 and keep track of what they are doing to save the planet. Involve your kids in multiple ways using the SDGs. Consider the design thinking process so they have a voice in their decisions.