TALKS | Methodology, philosophy and theory of systemic design

Toying for Joyful Learning – Exploring Systemic Process

Paper Talk

Surabhi Khanna, National Institute of Design Haryana, India

The best thing a child can do with a toy is to break it, the next best thing is to make it; even better is to create it.

Various Indian folk toys unknowingly provide this wisdom. The approach of the design process and system thinking is ingrained in design courses. The approach of the systemic process is used in a specific direction. Since 2011, the author has been conducting workshops on toys and games as a resource for joyful learning. The focus is on learning from heritage-based toys and games. Design education has courses like the design process, design concepts and concerns, systems thinking, design projects. These provide a strong base for the design process through a practice-based approach.

The idea of the workshop sessions with students, teachers, teacher-trainee, professionals like psychologists, educators, child development specialists, is to introduce learning from toys and games and this brings in the design process. Participants are encouraged to create new ideas based on existing knowledge. The experience of known to unknown to known is explored.

So why did we use toys and games to experience design process?

Toys and games are accessible and related to everyone since childhood. This brings a natural bond to product and process. The power of making and playing is immense. The medium of toy design facilitates the ability to create and express. This has been leading to developing a systemic approach. Participants become makers and players. The maker-player combination helps them have an understanding and coherence of part to whole. This helps in holistic learning – mind, material and media, with components like concept development, material knowledge, science principles, and communication. The sessions are intense and enriching to both the facilitator and the participants as there is a new and novel outcome in each session.

The conceptual clarity of participants unfolds beautifully through the process of systemic design. Values of empathy, patience, sensitivity, attention to details – are unplanned yet the additional welcome outcome of the sessions. The process helps participants express their beliefs in a concrete manner through tactile toys and games. There is acceptance of various beliefs and perspectives through this process of joyful learning. The paper explores two aspects 1) Toys and Tales development and 2) Systemic Process in learning from the approach of toy design. Various experiences of design workshops and courses with different groups of children and adults (teachers, parents) will be shared. The experience of using a systemic approach for design and education process using toy and game design will also be shared.