My Erasmus for Young Entrepreneur: from Non-Formal education to Design Thinking

I introduce myself, I’m Claudia, and I am currently living in Berlin. I will live and work here for a few months thanks to the program Erasmus for young entrepreneurs.

My academic and working career has ranged between various topics and countries: Italy, United Kingdom Brazil and now, Germany. Today, however, I work in education field in Italy as Non Formal Education trainer for Youth projects within the Erasmus Plus program.

One of the phrases that most inspired me in my profession is “Education is the most powerful tool we have to change the world.” However, in the daily life I see around me a static school system, instead of stimulating minds compartmentalizes and pushes to learn how to study but not how to develop a critical mind or how to create. From here comes my search for a way to learn and teach more on a human scale. The first step in this direction was the meeting with the non-formal education, and it was love at first sight. The second was the discovery of a new world called “Design Thinking”.

Our first meeting took place in Germany, through Guglielmo Apolloni, a professional designer, proto-social entrepreneur with “SchoolRaising” and My Host Entrepreneur. Fascinated by the potential that I could see in the approach, I started to inform me on my own – as required by Guglielmo, interested to see the Design Thinking from a different point of view – and I tried to answer the question .. what is design thinking ?

I found several definitions, and one particularly attracted my attention: “The design thinking is a managerial methodology that enhances the ability of organizations (companies, non-profit, public administration) to take effective and profitable decisions, creating and sharing well-being, based on the development of creative thinking “.

Ok, I said to myself, it looks interesting, but still was not clear to me how this approach works. So my first weeks here have been focused on understanding what Design Thinking was, and how is it different from other techniques, for example, from problem solving? or project management? And how it is applied to the educational world?

Design Thinking is an approach to problems, a mindset behind different solution processes. It is divided into four phases: discovery (the feasibility study), definition (brief), development (review of the idea), delivery. It maps the divergent and convergent phases of the design process, showing the different ways of thinking that designers use.

At this point of my investigation, I had finally confirmed that the Design Thinking can be applied in any field, from marketing economy, engineering, education, every day life, but I wanted to experience personally, so I took part in a practical activity of design thinking process: an Hold-Up organized by Make sense (a global community aimed at solve the challenges of social entrepreneurs, accelerating the impact of social entrepreneurs by connecting them with individuals ready to take up their challenges through problem-solving workshop methodologies).

I found it a really formative experience, enlightening, challenging and certainly very proactive.

It was a very new learning process, even for me that had already experienced the field of non-formal education and learning-by-doing, because we have been guided in a process of creation that led us to overturning our usual mind frame, facilitating the creation of effective and innovative solutions.

At this point I wonder, and if we did that in school?

What would happen, what benefits would result, if we use this methodologies at school or in young students environment?

My next goal here will be answer these questions, starting from the experience of those who, here in Berlin, is working with the Design Thinking in schools.

See you soon!

Claudia