The future directions at Parsons, the School of Design Strategies

I could do with a little help :-)

I have been asked to participate in a workshop at Parsons New School for Design New York.

Naturally I am very honored. Specially since the other participants (so far) are Fred Dust and Ryan Jacoby from IDEO, Roger Martin from Rotman, Jannene Rae from Peer Insight, and Bob Feldman, Feldman and Partners and David Armano.

So needles to say... I could do with a little help.

The general purpose of the workshop is strategic advice, about the future directions at Parsons, the School of Design Strategies, and particularly about its undergrad business degree program, which is currently focused on Design + Management. This is not the same as Design Management, so I'm told, but more like business design or design thinking about value propositions.

I'm trying to form an opinion on this and I would love to hear what your thought are on this matter. I'm thinking out load, so forgive me for rambling.

We can discuss what a future graduate needs to have under his or her belt to be successful. This is probably very important. But I can not predict the future. For example, I have not been trained to do the work I do now. No one ever heard of service design or self organizing-online-social-networks back than... come to think of it, there was no such thing as 'online'.

So maybe its an interesting possibility to turn things upside down. Designing a program bottom up, human centered.

It's not just about what you teach, but how a school connects to peoples life's. To me a school always seemed to have a strong claim on 'learning'. As if I could only learn if I went to this building and do exactly what I was told. I felt that only when I read a book approved by school I was actually learning. It took me a long time to realize I could learn very well by myself. Even though no one would hand me a diploma for it. The diploma is definitely not what matters. Like I said, I was never trained by school for the work I do now.

Learning is something we do all the time. It doesn't start when we enter school and it doesn't stop when we leave it. One could easily argue that we learn a lot more from real life anyway. In real life we learn the essential stuff. Does what we learn at school not reflect real life? Or is it simply that we can not predict the future. But than we should stop pretending that we know what we are training our children to do when they grow up. We haven't got a clue.

The school system and what we are tought in school should be a natural part of life. Turn learning into an ongoing process without focusing us on the end. The graduation, the diploma, freedom.

A school is a service provider, and could providing a platform for ongoing conversations. Empowerment is essentially what it is all about. School should provide us with the tools to keep learning.
Don't offer short moments in time, but be organic. Don't see school as a building and some moments during the week you have to sit down and study. See it as part of the community we belong to... School is a community. We should come up with more ways to co-producing value, create a feeling of co-ownership. Turning school into a community of practice.

I'll be doing a bit more thinking! And I will tell you what results the workshop produces.

But for now I would appreciate your thoughts!!!

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Comment by José António Baldaia on January 30, 2010 at 0:52
I just say: Yes, you are wright! As a father of students suns I try to give them tools to learn and to become sucessful in the future. We don't now the future, but we can create a good environment to be strong in the future. Something like Design living brings new ways of thinking, not just analytical, and new social skills to win against adversity.
Schools must promote knowledge, values and collaboration. We must be awere, because we usualy teach what we learn. Something needs to change. They must learn how to learn!
Be yourself, be sucessful!

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