Last week I attended SXSW EDU 2023. The conference is one of the premier events for educators, policymakers, and industry leaders to come together and discuss the latest trends, ideas, and innovations in global education. The conference featured an exciting lineup of keynote speakers, panel discussions, and workshops that explored a wide range of topics, from the use of technology in the classroom to the future of education in a rapidly changing world.
One of the keynote speeches I found most interesting was by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry (still going strong at age 94) and his sister Doreen Gehry Nelson, Professor Emerita Cal State Poly and Founding Director of Design-Based Learning at UCLA, about design-based learning. Designed-based learning is a teaching method where K-12 students at any level build a city of the future together. It’s a methodology of self-expression that inspires intuition, self-expression, and creativity. Teachers can use the project to not only teach language arts and math, but to also teach about ecology, the environment, energy, civics, social-emotional learning, and more.
The presentation included great film footage of Frank and Doreen together in a classroom with first grade students in the early 1970s. The students work together to elect a mayor. A helicopter arrives with an injured person. How to get that person to the hospital? The kids think, “oh my gosh, we forgot to include transportation in our city!” Doreen commented, “when you release the creative spirit in human beings, they begin to think for themselves.” Frank had a great quote: “The power to imagine is the path to a better, richer, more equitable society for all.”