Learning Provocations (ideas, how they affect us and why we should use them)

Provocation robot.001

During a design thinking inquiry process we use provocation as an engaging starting point or an opportunity to inject momentum in thinking and student engagement. They can come in many different forms:

Questions, Images (and text), Statements, Film, Data visualisations, Change a setting, Artefacts, Quotes, Maps, Proverbs, Role Play, Stories, Music and audio, Animation

I remember discovering this wonderful post from Cristina Milos a few years ago that captured so many wonderful ideas about how to plan for provocation. I highly recommend taking a look and digging deeper into the examples she shares.

For a long time now I have considered how learning provocations have an impact after all we have to plan for this reaction if we include provocation in our learning sessions. I think that provocation produces different reactions in us all, challenging is in different ways:

  • Emotionally (This is challenging how I feel or what I have previously felt)
  • Understanding (This is challenging what I think I know and my assumptions)
  • Perception (This is challenging my point of view)
  • Ethically (This is challenging our shared beliefs)
  • Morally (This is challenging my own principles)
  • Action (This is challenging me to take action, to change or make a difference)

We have to give adequate thought and preparation to the follow up activities – not just planning for provocation, but planning for the reaction to it as well.  If we have carefully crafted a provocation we should expect a reaction, considering the impact it is having on those we are working with and how to structure the learning that flow from it.

I believe that used in the correct way, at the the correct moment, the right type of provocation creates momentum in our thinking or those around us. When we are looking at the impact on Understanding for example, provocation can often create a new boundary or edge of what is known. What follows is an attempt to plot a course into that new territory – our curiosity as our guide.

How does the question in the image above challenge you? In which domains (outlined above) does it have the strongest impact on you? What learning structure would be most effective to follow it up?

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