Design Thinking for Schools – Introduction, Benefits & Applications

In an era where holistic learning is becoming a necessity for schools, learning styles and new theories or concepts are valuable additions to the teaching-learning process. Design Thinking is one of those topics that we will discuss in this blog.

Design thinking is a human-centric problem-solving approach that involves empathy, creativity, and experimentation. It is often used to develop new products or services, but it can also be applied to a wide range of challenges, including in education. 

Design thinking encourages people to be creative and iterative in their problem-solving, and to constantly be testing and refining their ideas. It is a flexible approach that can be applied to a wide range of challenges and can lead to innovative solutions that meet the needs of the people for whom they are designed. Let’s take a deeper look into the process:

The Design Thinking Process and Its 5-Stage Approach

The 5 Stages of Design Thinking act as a creative investigative journey taken by the problem-solver to identify all the gaps and fill them. Here are the 5 stages of the Design Thinking Process:

1. Empathize

In this stage, you seek to understand the needs and experiences of the people you are designing for. This might involve conducting interviews, observations, or other forms of research to get a deep understanding of their perspectives.

2. Define

In this stage, you identify the problem you are trying to solve. This might involve synthesizing the insights you gathered in the empathize stage and defining the problem in a clear and concise way.

3. Ideate

In this stage, you generate ideas for potential solutions to the problem you have defined. This might involve brainstorming sessions, sketching, or other creative techniques to come up with a wide range of ideas.

4. Prototype

In this stage, you create a prototype or mock-up of your solution. This could be a physical model, a digital mock-up, or some other representation of your idea. The goal of this stage is to get a tangible representation of your solution that you can test and refine.

5. Test

In this final stage, you get feedback on your prototype and make improvements. This might involve conducting user testing, gathering feedback from stakeholders, or other forms of validation. The goal of this stage is to iterate on your solution and make it as effective as possible.

This process is non-linear, which means that it does not follow a strict, predetermined sequence of steps. Instead, it is flexible and allows for movement between and within the different stages of the process. 

This non-linear approach is one of the key characteristics of design thinking as it is based on an iterative approach to problem-solving. Meaning, you may find yourself returning to earlier stages of the process as you learn more about the problem you are trying to solve and come up with new ideas. For example, you might find that you need to go back to the empathize stage to gather more insights about the people you are designing for, or you might revisit the ideate stage to come up with new ideas for prototypes.

How Is Design Thinking Useful for Schools?

In contrast to the traditional rote learning of standard subjects and concepts, design thinking enables students to learn problem-solving, a necessary 21st-century skill. Besides learning how to solve problems creatively and efficiently, there are plenty of other benefits of Design Thinking for Schools.

  • Encourages creativity and innovation: Design thinking encourages students to be creative and come up with new ideas. It provides a structured process for generating and testing ideas, which can help students develop their creativity and innovative thinking skills.
  • Promotes collaboration and teamwork: Design thinking is a collaborative process that requires people to work together to solve problems. It can help students develop their teamwork and communication skills, which are important in a variety of settings.
  • Fosters critical thinking and problem-solving skills: Design thinking requires students to think critically and analyze problems from different angles. It helps them develop their problem-solving skills and learn to approach challenges in a structured and systematic way.
  • Helps students develop empathy and understand the needs of others: One of the key components of design thinking is empathy, or the ability to understand the perspectives and needs of others. By focusing on the needs of the people they are designing for, students can learn to develop empathy and consider the impact of their solutions on others.

How to Incorporate Design Thinking into the Classroom

There are many ways to incorporate design thinking into the classroom. By starting with a problem or challenge, using design thinking activities and exercises, incorporating it into existing lesson plans, and collaborating with other teachers, you can help your students develop their creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Let’s explore these in a little more detail.

Start with a Problem or Challenge

Design thinking begins with identifying a problem or challenge that needs to be solved. You can start by introducing a problem or challenge to your students and have them work through the design thinking process to come up with a solution.

Use Design Thinking Activities and Exercises

There are many design thinking activities and exercises that you can use to introduce students to the process. Some examples include brainstorming sessions, sketching, prototyping, and user testing. These activities can help students get a hands-on understanding of the design thinking process and learn how to apply it in a practical setting.

Incorporate Design Thinking Into Existing Lesson Plans

You can also incorporate design thinking into existing lesson plans by adding a design thinking component to your assignments or projects. For example, you might have students use the design thinking process to come up with solutions to a problem related to the subject you are teaching.

Collaborate with Other Teachers

Design thinking is a collaborative process, and you may find it helpful to work with other teachers to incorporate it into your lessons. This can help you share ideas and resources, and it can also provide an opportunity for students to work on projects with students from other classes.


Incorporating Design Thinking into classrooms is obviously a challenge for teachers from Affordable Private Schools. Although there are a lot of valuable resources online like this blog, something like applying Design Thinking to your curriculum is only possible with professional support. If you’re curious about solutions to empower your school and students, consider reaching out to GurujiWorld regarding our integrated Digital Education Platform.

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