If you’re a Del Sur resident, it’s safe to say you’ve probably heard about the brand-new (and seriously noteworthy) Design39Campus. With a goal of creating a, “collaborative community of learners who nurture the national curiosity and creativity in everyone,” the school boasts 156,000 square feet of learning space and will host students in grades K-6th grade its first year, adding additional grades each year until it includes 8th grade. Designers and architects worked hand and hand to make the campus unlike any other school we’ve heard of thus far. With an emphasis on flexibility of space, the use of natural light and technology, and clean, modern lines, the school will work diligently to encourage and promote environmental awareness, helping students understand the benefits of living a green lifestyle. Campus specifics include 56 fully functional teaching spaces, a state-of-the-art gym/pavilion, an amphitheater, picturesque fitness trail, and so much more. It will also contain several “makeries” where students will be encouraged to exercise their creative minds, making projects with materials such as clay, cardboard, wood, paint, and more – oh, and don’t forget about the 3D printers…they have those, too!
Unsure of what “design thinking” actually means? It’s simple, actually. Design thinking starts with identifying a precise problem and understanding how one will benefit from its solution, following specific steps that include brainstorming and research sessions before coming to one complete, final answer. One of the first examples of design thinking at Design39 is deciding how the playground will be used. Teachers and faculty will be taking an innovative approach to this, asking students to design what recess time might look like to them. Principal Sonya Wrisley explains that, “we’re going to let kids design what recess time might look like. We’re leaving it for the kids to design. Rather than giving them the same thing each year, we’re saying, ‘what would make it fun for all kids?’” Another key element is empathy. While teachers often push students to engage in problem solving-based learning, the results are usually projects made just for the sake of making projects. And, ultimately, allowing students to focus on important human needs encourages them to craft personal projects that are meaningful, educational, and inspirational.
Since 2008, Del Sur has received many accolades for the schools in its close-knit, family-oriented community. De Sur Elementary is ranked number one among all schools in the Poway Unified School District based on 2013 Growth Academic Performance Index scores; it was also named a 2014 California Distinguished School. According to Lisa Sanders, Marketing Manager for Standard Pacific Homes San Diego, “the emphasis on education within Del Sur is a key reason people choose to move here” – which is definitely a contributing factor to the eight-new (and still growing) neighborhoods currently on the market.
What do you think? Are you on-board with this new way of thinking? Or do you prefer the tried and true way of education?