Revolutionizing Education with the Destination Imagination Program

By: Tina Shaffer

Traditional education is now being challenged to ready students for the emerging STEM economy. Many of the jobs students will be considering have not even been defined. There is in urgent need of complementary programs focused on teaching students how to become world-class innovators, project managers, and leaders. The good news is that Destination Imagination meets this demand. 
The Destination Imagination (DI) program is designed to enable students to develop and use their imaginations in creative ways. Annually DI produces fun and engaging challenges that give students the opportunity to learn and experience the creative process from imagination to innovation.

A System of Learning

Our program is a system of learning. It begins with a multiple intelligence survey that provides the student feedback on his/her unique strengths and abilities. It enables the team to learn their strengths as a group but also to learn and value the diversity of the group. The system teaches project management principles (initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing); STEM concepts; interpersonal skills (empathy, conflict resolution, team building, trust building); and management skills (negotiating, leading, public presentations, risk taking, budgeting), which lead to perseverance and ego-strength (the willingness to step out of the comfort zone to pursue a creative idea). In addition, the Instant Challenges enable students to develop expert intuition (the ability to deal swiftly and decisively with problems and challenges). 

The Stages of the Creative Process

Our goal at Destination Imagination is to give students the opportunity to learn and experience the creative process. The creative process consists of five stages. These stages do not represent a linear progression but rather comprise elements that guide students from imagination to innovation.
  • Stage one: Recognize. This stage is extremely important. Mindfulness, positive attitude and attribution, brain health awareness, and curiosity enable students to not only prepare themselves for challenge solving but also prepare them to identify opportunities (problem finding).
  • Stage two: Imagine. Once a challenge/problem is identified, then the student will learn how to explore mental options. Imagination is defined as the mental capacity to transcend time, place and circumstance: future thinking, exploration, risk analysis, novelty, and creativity. The student is provided tools and techniques to enhance fluency and novel thought (avoiding distractions from practical thinking).
  • Stage three: Initiate and Collaborate. This stage is where students build ego-strength. The stage is designed to give students creative confidence to voice their unique ideas and to pursue well thought out options. Students learn how to be non-judgmental in fluency and how to make a selection from a variety of options. This stage complements in-school curriculum and teaches students to develop and implement a project plan.
  • Stage four: Assess. In this stage, students learn to manage a project’s execution by monitoring and controlling the process. Budgets, risks, and progress against their plan are key components of stage four. Sometimes the Assess stage requires students to return to earlier stages.
  • Stage five: Evaluate. In this stage, students reflect on their progress or project completion. If the project is complete and the team is pleased with the result, then this is the stage where they celebrate and reflect on their project success. If the project does not meet expectations, then they may have to return to earlier stages to complete the project. In any case, students learn to reflect on lessons learned and to celebrate the closing of the project even if the project did not have the desired end result.

Evidence to Support Our Program

The future of our students is on the line. Our students are preparing to enter a dramatically changing workplace, one that will require a new, dynamic skill set. 
The 2014 American Institutes for Research report shows that students participating in educational opportunities that demand critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, innovation and problem solving skills graduate on time and thrive in four-year colleges. Read more here
We cannot afford to let our students down. Support the future workforce by introducing students to the DI system of learning. Let’s prepare them for their future endeavors.