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Design Thinking: Year 10 students create graphic novels for the Sydney Jewish Museum

Year 10 Design Thinking Day article

"‘To remember’ in Hebrew means something a little different to what it does in English," Head of Teaching and Learning (Senior College) Mr Luke Simkins says. “For us, the word 'remember' has to do with thinking about something, but in Hebrew, it is about an action, it is about doing something.”

For this year’s Design Thinking day, Year 10 were required to translate memory into action. On Monday 14 November, 2016, the Sydney Jewish Museum’s Educational Officer Marie Bonardelli gave students a brief: to produce a graphic novel based on Holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku’s testimony. 

While some Wenona students had visited the museum's Remember Me exhibition, the cohort heard his testimony again at school on Monday via video link. Over the next two days, the girls recreated scenes from his testimony in graphic novel strips - that will be later published on the museum’s website and read by Eddie Jaku. 

For Annie and Alisha of Year 10, one particular scene from Eddie’s testimony stuck out: Mr Jaku was beaten by a German soldier into saying “I am a Jewish pig”. The girls used the scene as one of four strips in their graphic novel, which they created using watercolour and digital media, with the help of their classmate Sophia. 

“Eddie’s message was inspirational because even though he spoke about dark stuff and his life was difficult, overall, his message was positive,” Annie says. “It was a message that said ‘we need to get rid of hate'."

Alisha enjoyed carrying out the brief because it was so relatable. “It’s something we are interested in and the girls are respecting it enough to do it properly,” she says. Annie agrees the task was applicable across a whole lot of fields.

“Even if you don’t want to go into a Design or TAS area, it strengthens general life problem-solving and creativity skills,” Annie says. “It is relevant and an important part of history for us to learn in depth and put into a medium that is accessible.” 

Mr Simkins says Design Thinking is about using the skills students learn in the classroom to apply to practical real-world situations. "It certainly opens doors for students to see cross-curricular links across faculties," he says. Teachers from English, Visual Arts and Textiles and Applied Sciences collaborated on the project, which is the "spirit of Design Thinking" Mr Simkins says. 

English teacher Ms Swain helped with allegory, metaphor and storytelling, Visual Arts, Photographic and Digital Media teacher Mr Marcovitch helped with storyboarding, and Textiles and Applied Sciences teacher Ms Jalili brought her graphic novel experience and drew it all together.