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Design for Resilience . . . in Education

We traveled to Boston from NYC this past weekend for a college audition, and walking around Back Bay found the above exhibit at the Boston Architectural College. From the exhibit catalog, “Design for Resilience asks us to think, discuss, and take action as we consider how to better connect ourselves to our ecology and our infrastructure to ready ourselves for the future. . . Rebuild by Design has been answering these questions of resilience – the ability to withstand, adapt, and recover from shock – with an innovative process that relies on unprecedented collaboration to create unique solutions for a stronger tomorrow.” The words struck me as particularly apropos to our kids transitioning from high school to college (or whatever alternative path they might select). How can we prepare our young people to move forward and be productive contributors to society, for their sake and for ours? How can we design the PK-12 experience to make such transitions less shocking?

  1. Incorporate more practical components into the curriculum. Some colleges include housing options for senior year that are meant to prepare students for leaving the relative safety and comfort of the campus experience to “the real world.” That’s not a bad thing, but let’s start sooner and teach kids about personal finances with exercises about budgeting, health care issues, etc. earlier on so that the shock of leaving home for college is not as severe.

  2. Prepare more directly for the rigor of college academics. So many kids arrive at college unable to manage the workload due to either the sheer volume of reading assignments, papers or projects; or due to a lack of preparedness around the specific skills required to attach such assignments. A focus on the specific research and writing skills required would be a great asset to kids before they leave high school. Whether a course or a toolkit for preparation and later use, kids need more tools at their disposal to make it out there in higher ed and then on the job.

  3. Focus more on the decision-making skills one needs to survive once away from home. From selecting courses, to taking on extra-curricular activities and dealing with the social aspects of college living, scenario-based learning exercises could go a long way to lessening the shock once faced with these realities.

“Designing for resilience” from an educational perspective means taking on a more practical approach to curriculum and learning design. By incorporating existing tools from what is currently available, or adding to them with more specific materials for this target audience, we should be able to provide helpful tools for moving forward. Just as workplace learning is now designing and curating learning experiences for employees to focus on more hands-on and continuous learning, so should we incorporate similar strategies into the PK-12 learning space.Backward planning from the workplace, to college life and even to the PK-12 years can help better prepare young people for the realities they will face. And we’ll all be better off as a result.

Stay tuned to Designs2Learn for more on how resilient learning design can better prepare students for a place in tomorrow’s workplace.


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As of January 2024, Rewriting Paradigms is back and I'm writing about today's  issues, those that most test us and our humanity.

Designs2Learn blogs were originally published on a separate site devoted solely to educational issues. 

With the release of the Rewriting Paradigms site, we' ported them over to their new home.

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