Wednesday, December 02, 2009

"cultivate a spirit of inquiry"

I have been re-reading Emigre No. 65, If We're Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants, What Are We Reaching For? Of particular interest is You Mean We Have To Read This? by Anthony Inciong. Emigre 65 was published in 2003, but this article reads as if it was written today.

On a holistic approach
"Graphic Design education, now more than ever*, must address the broader issues facing the profession. Amidst sociopolitical upheavals of late and ever-advancing technologies (for better or worse), it is vital that undergraduate programs take an holistic approach towards teaching graphic design that will surpass purely formal concerns in the service of industry. Educators must cultivate a spirit of inquiry within their classrooms that will transform their students into highly motivated and capable designers who are incisive critics of their work......"

On audience
"A foremost concern of many graphic design programs is that its graduates be well rounded and capable of providing competent, sophisticated service through visual language of design in a professional environment. "Service" implies that designers have a responsibility well beyond their own penchants and that to design for an audience means that they are communicating messages visually to and for a particular community of people (society) whose culture (way of thinking, beliefs) they inevitably influence. However, issues of audience and culture will not be a concern to students if they are not emphasized or brought to bear upon projects and lectures within the classroom......"

The author goes on to discuss the role of technology and the question of whether or not to teach it, pointing out that students may begin to believe that the "answer" lies in learning software. "There is a misconception among undergraduates that technology will solve the issues for which they are accountable. Sadly, that frame of mind is also content to eliminate the pleasures of exploring ideas through sketching, research and writing, all of which are part of the design process....."

On the point regarding the elimination of sketching, researching and writing, I wonder how much of the blame belongs with us as educators. Are we continuing to pile on more and more objectives, thereby reducing the amount of time to work through concepts all at the expense of exploration? Change is hard, especially in academia, where things move as slow as molasses (southern reference, stay with me).

Despite the 7 year old date on this article, I will (have to) remain hopeful that we can continue to s l o w l y broaden the scope of design pedagogy.

* i hereby vow to never again write: "now more than ever"


Gretchen Rinnert said...

I need to get this article from you, sounds very interesting. Students need time to toss ideas around, explore making and to work through iteration. I think what is truly problematic is when we assume students should be ready to stop learning when the leave the university setting, which couldn't be more false. Their is a consensus that a successful class should produce multiple portfolio ready artifacts. I think this can distract educators and students from our objective - educating students to be design thinkers. Students often learn their most valuable lessons from process, failure and revision.

Thanks for posting this Marty!

Tim Riches said...

Hi Marty,

Thanks for an interesting session today. 'Trust it?' is a really nice concept and just makes sense.

PS: You're my first blog post!