A bias towards action is the element of a design thinking mindset that resonates with me the most and what I see as really making this such a powerful pedagogical approach. Yet, the bias towards action is bizarrely an aspect that has seen some teachers question the appropriateness of design thinking as an approach for all learning areas. For me, the bias towards action is what makes this an authentic inquiry process rather than just another project producing a poster.
Yes, taking action can be creating some form of technology aimed at helping solve the problem (with many prototypes along the way) and this is an exciting way to learn. Maker Culture is booming again globally and this is being seen in schools as teachers and students start getting to grip with items such as arduinos, 3D Printing and learning to code. Now, no longer the sole domain of the Technology teachers as they use different materials to produce a product, many different learning areas are starting to make. Taupaki Primary School are an awesome example of how a Maker Culture can exist across a whole school, read Principal Stephen Lethbridge‘s blog about it here.
Action can however, also mean the various forms of social action. As students design what needs to be done to solve a problem it could mean they take an action to raise awareness (like a guerrilla action to provoke thinking in others) or raise $ for a cause, writing letters or submissions to parliament (like this awesome class did) or creating a film or book (like Hana Olds).
Taking action in both manners described above (technological and social) is about students demonstrating their ability to use knowledge. This is very important to me as I have been heavily influenced by Rachel Bolstad and Keri Facer to believe that students should be future building, not just future proofing. By making products or taking social action students are taking steps towards building the future they believe should happen for them and their communities.
All teachers would agree that we want students to gain a deeper understanding of the content in our courses. For me, this comes through students using the knowledge rather than just being able to regurgitate it. Taking action requires students to use the knowledge they have (and in many cases search out or create new knowledge). This is why I believe the bias towards action is what elevates a design thinking inquiry above a project where students regurgitate their information into a essay, report or poster. And is also why I believe that teachers of any learning area should be investigating design thinking.