Here are a series of questions we are consistently asked. Please email us at k12@dschool.stanford.edu if you have a question that hasn’t been answered here.

What is design thinking and why does it matter for today’s youth?

Design thinking is an approach to creative problem solving.  It employs skills of empathy, synthesis, brainstorming, prototyping, and challenge definition. When we use a design thinking approach to a challenge, we learn to rely on our ability to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, to construct ideas that are emotionally meaningful as well as functional, and to express ourselves by building solutions that helps address challenges in the world. At its core, design thinking is the means by which we generate  creative ideas and make positive change happen in the world. Given the great challenges we have in the world today, design thinking is one of the many ways we can prepare our youth to positively shape our future… while they develop confidence in their creative abilities. 

What is creative confidence, and how do these schools build it in youth?

Tom and David Kelley define creative confidence as the “natural human ability to come up with breakthrough ideas and the courage to act on them.” Everyone was creative at some point in their lives (think kindergarten), so the challenge is more about unlocking creative potential than generating it from scratch. Many of the schools in this directory have committed to developing creative confidence in youth, by engaging them in designing solutions for challenges big and small.

What is Design Thinking in Schools: K12?

It’s this web site! It is a directory of schools, programs and resources all around the world that use design thinking to help students learn.

Why did you create this web site?

Over the years many teachers, administrators and parents have asked us what schools have integrated design thinking, or what programs exist for youth. There are so many wonderful programs and resources out there, that it was difficult to keep up the list! So we wanted to create a directory that would help people connect with new friends, institutions, and experiences.

How is this site different from designthinkingforeducators.com and the Design Thinking for Educators toolkit?

In partnership with Riverdale Country School, IDEO created the Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit, which adapts design process for the context of education. We realized that teachers are already designers, but don’t often see themselves that way, and wanted to create tools to help teachers be more intentional about what they are designing – whether it is curriculum, spaces, tools and processes, or systems. While Design Thinking for Educators is a resource created to help teachers design new solutions for their classrooms, schools and communities, it is not optimized as a teaching resource the way many of the  programs and materials on this site are.

Why aren’t universities included?

We thought a lot about this. There are so many universities around the world who have design thinking programs. For the first release of this directory, we decided to focus on K12 programs.

What can I do if there aren’t any schools teaching design thinking near me?

That’s a great question. One thing you could do is consider starting a program! You could also connect with many of the people and programs on this site to see if they might expand into your area.

How are IDEO and the d.school partnering on this?

IDEO and the d.school partner all of the time. We’re like half siblings… two different organizations with the same father! We both have so many people asking us for information about schools around the world, and so we decided we would do this together. We started by listing all of the questions that people tend to ask us, and found that they were very consistent!

Is there a downloadable list of all of the programs in this directory?

We’re sorry, but we do not have a downloadable list of all of the listings at this point. Perhaps in a future release!

Who do I contact if I have more questions?

Feel free to email us at k12@dschool.stanford.edu. We look forward to hearing from you!