Book review: “Launch” for educators

What if educators believe that all students have the creative potential to become makers, designers, artists, and engineers? What if educators and students partner in a journey of discovery in which students view themselves as inventors and creators?

In “Launch: Using design thinking to boost creativity and bring out the maker in every student,” John Spencer and A. J. Juliani offer practical advice on how to embrace, empower, and unleash student creativity and innovation.  They provide a flexible design-thinking framework with specific strategies that can be incorporated into every class at every grade level. The model proposed in the Launch Cycle consists of the following stages:

Look, listen, and learn
Ask lots of questions
Understand the problem or process
Navigate ideas
Highlight what’s working and failing

Even if you don’t consider yourself a “creative teacher,” the book includes a wide range of stories about design thinking in classrooms and around the world that will inspire you to try out the Launch Cycle, along with the necessary tools to get started.

Furthermore, while guiding educators in the process of design thinking, “Launch” questions the most common myths about the concept and eases obstacles to success. I found quite instructive the book’s approach to innovative work as a something less spontaneous and more process driven. “Launch” explores how frameworks and limitations help the creation process rather than hinder its potential. Juliani and Spencer present creativity as the decisions to show up, persevere, and do the work even when you don’t feel like it.

Reading “Launch” inspired me to rethink my teaching in ways that open up a world of possibilities for students to have choice and to take ownership of their learning experiences. As an educator, the greatest reward comes from joining the ride of designing and experiencing how the students grow as they feel they are the makers of their creation.

“If you dare to innovate and view creativity as an essential skill, you will empower your students to change the world — starting right now.” (Spencer and Juliani)



A. J. Juliani

John Spencer