It was no surprise to my family and friends when I became a teacher. They knew that I always loved school. Looking back on my education, I realize how lucky I was to attend a Montessori kindergarten; an elementary school where I had regular classes in visual art, music, dance, and drama; an innovative middle school without traditional grading and where we called our teachers by their first names; and an International Baccalaureate high school with inspired and inspiring teachers who prepared me for the challenges of college.
Now that I am a parent, it breaks my heart when I hear my own children talk about not enjoying school, and I know they are not alone. Too many children are being let down by our educational system. Not every student is going to have the opportunities I had, but with new technologies fundamentally changing the way we interact with one another, we are at a point where we have the chance to completely reimagine our schools. I want to be a part of this movement, and I believe that design thinking and other educational approaches hold great promise for better engaging our students in their education.
With this as my personal mission, the question I needed to answer is whether to attempt to effect change from inside or outside the system. While I will continue to work from the inside whenever I can, the focus of my doctoral research and my work with the Ensō Education Institute will be initiating change at the classroom level. To this end, I want to help build a network of teachers, administrators, students, and parents around the world who see the benefit of using design thinking, project-based learning, and other deeper learning methodologies to address real-world scenarios. The Ensō Education Institute has emerged as the beginning of this network.