In a few days I will be among 50 educators from around the world attending the Project Wayfinder Teacher Institute at Brown University. Based upon the navigational techniques of ancient Polynesian sailors, Project Wayfinder’s vision is “that all people have access to tools to create lives of meaning and purpose.”
Founded by Patrick Cook-Deegan and designed through his work as a fellow at Stanford’s d.school, Project Wayfinder seeks to meet a glaring need in education: We are turning out students who may know a great deal but lack any purpose with which to apply their knowledge. In doing so, we are denying a generation(s?) of adolescents access to a life in which they can flourish in ways beyond mere self-fulfillment or pursuit of happiness.
Indeed, if a recent survey from the National Institutes of Mental Health is correct, approximately 31.9% of adolescents age 13–18 have suffered from any type of anxiety disorder. As Project Wayfinder points out, “while school is in session, high school students are the single most stressed out population in the US” (http://www.projectwayfinder.com/our-vision/).
As an educational design consultancy, PlusUs is dedicated to a human-centered approach to our practice. In addition to providing a full range of design solutions, we strive to keep learners and their needs at the center of all we do. Regardless of whether we’re working with you to design a new informational mailer or to create curricular materials, we are always thinking about the learners our work will ultimately affect.
Thus, our attendance at Project Wayfinder will assist us in better understanding the needs of today’s learners and the opportunities present in all systems of education. It will also help us position our designs more firmly within a value system that recognizes the importance of meaning and purpose to a healthy, fulfilling life.
Starting on Monday, July 16, I’ll be sharing my experience at Project Wayfinder’s Teacher Institute here on our blog.