Morale is low. After five long days running around, playing outdoors, battling mosquitos and (literally) burning out in the sunshine, our group of six teens are exhausted. The same can be said for the adults who have been working even longer days.
All of the fun and games from the past week are a distant memory. We are focused on a single goal; all of our energy is poured into making the construction of our structure a reality. We’re working against our constraints of nature and time, and are struggling to come to consensus about important decisions for the project.
Our conversation and construction was derailed today when we decided to bring in a couple of user test subjects midday to validate the decisions we made. While it can be very useful to bring in test subjects at key points in the process, we brought ours in too late for us to make big changes, and too early for them to suggest little changes. Our test subjects launched a new dialogue that set our students’ minds in another direction from where we had been. On top of that, some of the students who had been left out of the key decision making processes were unhappy with the results and didn’t hold back their opinions (a true testament to the value of co-creation exercises with clients!).
After our rocky discussion Alex and I made the difficult decision to walk away from the problem. We sent the kids off for an ice cream break and then left them to work on a new prototype without our guidance. After thirty minutes the students came up with a new idea and built a mockup. After a brief check-in and another twenty minutes they pushed their design a little farther. The previously divergent group had come to a new decision together, one that everyone was excited about.
When we rejoined them, the attitude of the group was completely turned around. The students had reclaimed ownership of the prototype construction and were able to find enthusiasm and new energy for the work. Frowns of disappointment and frustration turned into excited smiles, eagerly anticipating the next step in the building process.
It was a difficult experience as a teacher to lead these students through this trying experience. I’m very glad to have Alex here to guide our teaching efforts and the learning experience for the students. He showed great calm under pressure and was willing to go into the problem a little deeper, trusting that there would be something great on the other end of the tunnel.