Thinking Routines


Educators from Scarsdale have worked this year with the Agency by Design group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Agency by design seeks to examine maker culture and maker education in the context of design thinking and maker empowerment or “agency”. The thinking routines they have developed seek to increase student sensitivity to the “designed dimension of the world”. In a sense, the routines are the exact opposite of design thinking in that they help deconstruct the reasons and uses for a machine or human system. For instance in the routine “Parts, Purposes and Complexities” students examine an object such as a doorknob and begin by listing all the parts. They then use tools to take apart the object and diagram the purposes and complexities they see. As they do this the designed dimensions of the object become clearer and further questions are raised. As students become proficient in using these routines they develop “agency”, that is a deep resourcefulness that allows them to tinker with and redesign systems fluidly and collaboratively.


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