Hi, I’m John Spencer. I’m a former middle school teacher and current college professor on a quest to transform schools into bastions of creativity and wonder. I want to see teachers unleash the creative potential in all of their students so that kids can be makers, designers, artists, and engineers. I explore research, interview educators, deconstruct systems, and study real-world examples of design thinking in action. I share what I’m learning in books, blog posts, journal articles, free resources, animated videos, and podcasts.
I have a crazy belief that all people are naturally creative. Too many people have believed the lie that there are certain “creative types” who are the exception to the rule. But we are all creative. Every one of us. And we can tap into this natural creativity when we embrace a maker mindset.
Every day, I ask my kids, “What did you make in school today?” Too often, they can’t give me an answer. But on the days that they do, their eyes light up and they passionately describe their projects. It’s in those moments that I am reminded that making is magic and that teachers are the ones making this magic happen.
In my second year of teaching, we used design thinking for our student-centered documentary project. Everything changed. I spent the next decade on a journey to empower my students to become creative thinkers and problem-solvers. This meant mural projects, service learning projects, STEM camps, and coding projects. But it also meant mistakes. Tons of them. It meant lessons that tanked and projects that failed. But each failure was another iteration on the road to innovation.
Along the way, I helped develop the student-friendly LAUNCH Cycle, a design thinking framework for K-12 students.
Over the last few years, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing people, schools, organizations, and conferences. I had the chance to speak at the White House and share my vision of the future of learning — one that empowers students to be creative thinkers. If you are interested in having me present, fill out the form below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.