Yeshiva Har Torah

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Design Thinking

Yeshiva Har Torah was among the original seven members of the Jewish Day School Collaboration Network, funded by the UJA and facilitated by the Jewish Education Project and Upstart, which seeks to explore the methodology of Design Thinking, and use it as a tool for building school leadership (


Design Thinking is a process and framework for solving open-ended problems. Most famously associated with the D.School at Stanford and IDEO (the company that designed the original Apple mouse), it emphasizes collaborative brainstorming, testing, and repeat prototyping to improve results. 

At its most basic, the Design Thinking process is broken up into five iterative steps. 

  1. Empathize - Work to fully understand the experience of the user for whom you are designing.  Do this through observation, interaction, and immersing yourself in their experiences.
  2. Define - Process and synthesize the findings to define the problem a user point of view that you will address with your design.
  3. Ideate – Generate ideas for a wide variety of possible solutions, including nonobvious solutions.
  4. Prototype - Transform your ideas into a physical form so that you can experience and interact with them and, in the process, learn and develop a better understanding of what the user needs.
  5. Test - Try out products and use observations and feedback to refine prototypes, learn more about the user, and refine your original point of view

The most obvious example of how Har Torah uses Design Thinking is at the Invention Convention.  There, students form collaborative teams to solve a problem using Design Thinking principles and then present their results.  A broader but perhaps less visible application is Har Torah’s use of Design Thinking as a methodology for improving classroom instruction models (