Straight off the bat I’m going to tell you that I don’t believe there are naughty kids. There are kids that challenge us, that make poor choices, that rebel but as an educator I believe that all kids are inherently good. I have taught my fair share of students that have given me grey hairs or have driven me to want to publically share my grasp of colloquial language but I believe that everyone can succeed in the right environment and with the right support. The bagging of students is one reason why I’m not a huge fan of staffrooms. I understand the need to vent after a challenging lesson but I also believe that there are more productive ways to do this and number one is finding opportunities for positive encounters instead of conflict. Anyway rant aside, the point of this post is about what we can learn from the “extreme” student.
The word ‘extreme’ is borrowed by IDEO’s Human Centred Design process where interviewing ‘extreme users’ can provide incredible insights and ideas for innovation. Empathy is the driving force behind the Human Centred Design process and this method forms part of the inspiration stage. It allows us to take a deep dive into all areas of a problem and look at the problem from all angles. Lets look at an example, getting teachers to use technology in their teaching. We can instantly think of extremes at both ends. Think of two people in your life or school that would qualify as either extreme users of technology or extreme non users of technology. What about their behaviour classifies them as extreme? When we analyse how they work, what jumps out at you? When you speak to these people about how they work, what do you discover? Extreme users often have unique work patterns or workarounds. For the hyper-connected extreme user, he/she might automate mundane tasks through IFTTT (IF This Then That) recipes and this workflow helps create time for more important tasks. For the analog user, their use of their diary to collect anecdotal notes might serve as a powerful formative assessment tool. We can learn new ways of working or highlight practices that are highly efficient. On the flipside, we can also find new ways to connect the dots and work through our problem. Whatever the case is, there is much to learn here if we spend the time noticing.
You can find two great resources to help you learn from the extremes from the Stanford d.school and the IDEO design kit. Being able to empathise with the extreme users in your class can allow you to see the world through their eyes and can help you discover new ways of thinking or design new ways of connecting. We have much to learn from the extremes in our life.
Thanks for reading.