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Modeling the Maker Mindset

How Teachers Can Use The Extraordinaires® to Exercise Student Empathy

The Extraordinaires® character cards make it easier for teachers to strengthen empathy in all of their students by modeling the maker mindset

Designing something that benefits our world is the goal of every inventor. To meet that goal, those inventors need empathy – the ability to set aside prejudices and genuinely try to understand another’s perspective. Empathy is what makes incorporating design thinking into the classroom so attractive; any activity that encourages student curiosity and compassion is always a welcomed one.

Like any other skill, empathy must be practiced, honed, and strengthened. The desire to exercise empathy is what guided the development of The Extraordinaires®, those larger-than-life characters who are the “clients” in The Extraordinaires® Design Studio. The Extraordinaires® and the lives that they lead are rendered in dynamic, full-color illustrations on large, double-sided character cards that are immediately engaging to a young person, but an Extraordinaire is more than just a pretty picture!

An Extraordinaire’s familiarity is enhanced by the unexpected.

Empathy is diminished when preconceived notions undermine open-mindedness. So, it may seem that The Extraordinaires®, who all appear to be clichés, would be ineffective subjects for inspiring design – but look more closely! The Extraordinaires® have surprising side jobs, curious hobbies, and amusing quirks that will challenge students’ expectations, compelling them to get to know their clients better.

An Extraordinaire’s needs are amplified extraordinarily.

Scaffolding the growth of empathy in young people is critical, requiring materials, lessons, and activities that can foster its development. Because The Extraordinaires® are such over-the-top individuals, their needs are equally extreme. These amplified needs are much easier for children to identify, leading them to feel more confident when applying their new observational skills to the real world.

An Extraordinaire’s world invites investigation.

Curiosity is important to empathy. To make curiosity an integral part of engaging with an Extraordinaire, many of today’s most talented professional artists contributed a great deal of time and effort to create intricately-detailed environments for The Extraordinaires®. Clues abound in every picture on both sides of the Extraordinaire’s card, daring students to discover the character’s every want and need.

The Extraordinaires® character cards make it easier for teachers to strengthen empathy in all of their students by modeling the maker mindset, encouraging engagement with another’s life and world, and promoting the satisfaction of experiencing new perspectives. HERE are some student activities, suitable to a variety of learning goals, that will exercise empathy thanks to the unique design of The Extraordinaires® character cards.