A little over a year ago, John Spencer and I tossed around an idea for a book called The Creative Classroom. Given our combined experience with design thinking (as educators, leaders, and people who actively engage in creative work), we planned out a solid book on the topic. We wrote the kind of book we thought education publishers would want us to submit. It was decent. It was informative. But then Dave Burgess contacted us and said, “I’m not interested in an education book. I’m interested in a manifesto. I’m interested in a bold statement telling the world the heart and soul of what you are about.”
Dave encouraged us to make this book our own – to write the kind of book that we would have wanted to read as teachers. He also wanted this book to be fully ours, including John’s sketches throughout and on the design of the cover. But more importantly, he encouraged us to abandon the idea of writing a book we were “supposed” to write and instead write the book we felt we needed to write.
And that’s exactly what we did. John and I tossed the outline. In fact, we scrapped the entire first draft. We focused on a single idea: that every child deserves a creative classroom and that design thinking can help make that happen in every classroom with every child. We dove into research. We asked hard questions. We interviewed tons of teachers doing amazing things. We fine-tuned the LAUNCH Cycle, adding some key components often missing in design thinking. We ended up with the book that needed to be written and something I am truly proud of authoring with John:
LAUNCH: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student.
But before we did any of that, we started with a manifesto that would eventually be the center story of our book with two core ideas:
1. All children are naturally creative
2. Powerful things happen when they share what they create with the world.
At that point, we opened up a Google Doc and started with the core ideas of what we believe. Here it is:
We believe . . .
We believe that all kids are naturally creative and that every classroom should be filled with creativity and wonder.
We want to see teachers unleash the creative potential in all of their students so that kids can be makers, designers, artists, and engineers.
We know that school can be busy. Materials can be scarce. The creative process can seem confusing, especially when you have a tight curriculum map. So creativity becomes a side project, an enrichment activity you get to when you have time for it. But the thing is, there’s never enough time.
We can do better.
We believe that creative thinking is as vital as math or reading or writing. There’s power in problem-solving and experimenting and taking things from questions to ideas to authentic products that you launch to the world. Something happens in students when they define themselves as makers and inventors and creators.
That’s the power of design thinking. It provides a flexible framework for creative work. It’s used in engineering, publishing, business, the humanities, in non-profit and community work. And yes, it can be used in education! You can use it in every subject with every age group. Although there are many versions of the design thinking model, we have developed the LAUNCH Cycle as a student-friendly way to engage in design thinking.
We believe all students deserve the opportunity to be their best creative selves, both in and out of school. We believe all kids are unique, authentic, and destined to be original.
Most importantly, we believe this is not an all encompassing solution, but a start. We believe our role is to empower kids to make an impact on the world around them and fully believe in themselves.
It is because of these beliefs that we wrote this book. We wrote it for ourselves, for our colleagues, for our friends, for our students, and for you. Because ultimately, we believe that you have the power to inspire kids and create a ripple effect that lasts for years to come.
From there, we wrote a book for teachers. Real teachers. The kind of teachers who are taking creative risks everyday in their classroom even when the system focuses on higher test scores. We wrote a book for the misfits, for the rebels, for the curious educators willing to chase their imagination and pursue design thinking. We wrote it for the ones who know that we teach students and not data points. We told stories. We shared ideas. We offered a realistic framework teachers could use. We asked questions even when we didn’t have all the answers.
We didn’t write an instruction manual. We know that creative teachers don’t need an instruction manual. We didn’t write a journal article for college professors to pick apart. We didn’t write a specific book for a narrow niche. If you’re looking for that kind of a book, then Launch isn’t for you.
We wrote a manifesto for teachers who want to boost creativity and bring out the maker in all students. We see a lot of posts complaining about what’s broken in education (testing, homework, the institution of school itself) but we created something different. This is an unabashedly positive look at what we can do as educators to spark creativity in every classroom. This is our manifesto.
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