How can we leverage design thinking to enhance education quality in resource-starved, developing communities such as those in the Philippines? In this episode, Habi Education Lab Founder Gerson Abesamis talks about how the start-up uses small design thinking workshops and collaborative lesson prototyping in a professional development program for teachers, resulting in innovative learning experiences in classrooms across the Philippines.
A workshop on creativity! You could say it was bound to happen. Katty is a social scientist who has ongoing pursuits in music, urban farming and alternative medicine. Gerson champions for the inclusion of design and technology in education. Delphine works countless hours as a professional theatre actor and dancer. The three tapped into their experiences and delivered a workshop on the creative applications of teaching to the faculty of Philippine Science High School — Ilocos Region Campus (Pisay-IRC).
Essentially, we’re transforming the participants’ role into co-designers. User testing sessions, prototype showcase, gallery walks, feedback sessions, whatever you call them–are very powerful tools to engage communities and share with them the ownership of a solution.
“Let’s begin by checking in”, facilitator Meila Romero-Payawal says as she smiles and gently taps on her belly. Around unfamiliar faces and a seemingly strange venue for an educational workshop (a ballet studio), the participants slowly eased into the group, forming a circle. She introduces herself and candidly speaks about her 4-month old baby bump as she checks in. This is a familiar way to begin meetings, workshops and classes, so I’m not surprised that the participants, mostly teachers, comfortably followed suit
Two-day workshops allow teachers to use the HABI process in solving real problems in their schools, producing ideas and prototypes at the end of the workshop. It makes the learning experience meaningful and productive, giving participants a feeling of achievement.
From the Open Lab, we learned that as the brain doesn’t function in silos, so should our perspectives on research. As we deal with students that are highly individualised, we must avoid resorting to hasty generalizations, sacrificing accuracy for convenience.
Kinderhabi is the official arm built to take on Habi’s projects in early childhood education and development. In collaboration with MovEd Foundation and the local government unit, the team facilitated a training program for the day care workers selected from the different barangays.
The best part about Design Thinking is that, like the scientific method, it’s an endless cycle of searching, trying, and sharing. There’s no settling.
Our workshop objective started out simple: to give the teachers confidence in making their own materials. Whether to produce posters to decorate classrooms, or to enhance the look of their lecture slides, teachers are always looking for new ways to design their tools and environments to improve their teaching.
In most classrooms, teachers are accustomed to assuming the role of the leader. They teach what they know to those who do not. In educational workshops, including Habi’s, they generally adopt the position of the learner, and we the role of the facilitators. This particular Habi Open Lab, however, was an attempt at organic community learning that forced both our participants and ourselves out of the molds that we’re used to.
The principles of collaboration, democratic communication, and creativity are not new. Common sense should tell you that they form the foundations of progress and problem solving in virtually every context. But in many school settings, these concepts often risk being buried under old habits, top-down management, and red tape.