Community Corner: Design-Based Education In Berkeley

BERKELEY (KCBS) – A local designer and educator based in Berkeley describes her unique curriculum in her newly released book “Tell Them I Built This: Transforming Schools, Communities, and Lives with Design-based Education.”

Emily Pilloton’s program called Studio H is currently up and running at REALM Charter School in Berkeley.

KCBS’ Connie C. Kim talks to Emily Pilloton:

What makes design a unique concept for education is that “it’s physical, it’s not always linear,” Pilloton explains. “There’s a lot of experimentation and failure and having to correct and learn things by doing and that’s something that’s very unique to design.”

Through her program, Pilloton hopes to use design to positively impact students and the community.

She first launched the program in a tiny, rural town in North Carolina where the students ended up building a 2,000 square-foot public farmer’s market structure, three chicken coops and roadside farm stands.

Pilloton says it’s important to have a project-based, hands-on program like this because the textbook method doesn’t work on all students. She says this type of education is missing in a lot of classrooms today.

Currently, the students at REALM are working on an 800 square foot space that could be used for dining or informal instruction and the entire design and construction of it is all student driven.

But the book is about more than just design and education, and contains a universal message.

“I love the idea that anything and everything is possible,” Pilloton shares. “As a designer that’s exciting because if I can dream it up, then hopefully I can make it happen. Whether you’re a student, educator, designer or anyone else, the story in the book is about being an active citizen, looking at what’s going on around you, dreaming up what seems impossible and putting in the time and grit and conviction and creativity to bring those things to life.”

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