Thursday, November 29, 2007

Design's not just about the children!...part 2

So let me go back then to this whole idea of Design Education that seemingly can go even beyond the children! Unlike the other more 'traditional' subject areas like the sciences, mathematics, languages and humanities, somehow or rather, the subject of design and technology has indeed a great deal of transformation over the years. And it in with this respect that I feel that, parents, and sadly, teachers as well, have been pretty much in the dark of what are these developments all about.

But at times we can't really blame them for this misinformation, simply because there had not been enough 'rebranding' exercise or programme that had been put in place to correct this (mis)conception.

It is thus with this battle-cry in mind that I do hope that design educators like myself will take that extra effort in educating, not only our youths on what design is all about, but more importantly, to also bring in the parents of these buy them in to at least then change their ideas of what a design and technology subject area can offer. It would definitely not be an easy job, given the lack of information and the creative fluidity that at times seems to permeate the subject, but nevertheless, over time, I do strongly believe in the eventual greater appreciation of what design is all about, and the kind of value-addedness that its exposure can offer.

So where can we go from here! Well the only way is to do a better job at 'rebranding' this subject! Marketing of this subject matter at even the initial years of a students' life would definitely be helpful! I mean some primary schools in UK are even having some form of a technical education or a component of it, in their curriculum, and these seems to have worked wonders, as kids would then have a natural flair of associating what they have learnt, and perhaps apply it immediately! And in this aspect too, I do believe that when students are better able to relate theory with the application, learning becomes more rooted in their knowledge bank, and perhaps, just perhaps, it could actually be a way forward for our education system, which is currently still very much based on the didactic methods of the old! The other idea that perhaps might work over here, and in which I have propounded in my post some time back, was on the idea of having an integrated approach to education, removing the silo-like nature of subject areas, and perhaps having classes run like mini-companies, with the marketing, sales, management, manufacturing, design, quality assurance, and other real 'job designations' being handed out instead, rather than the atypical subject silo! In fact why not close the gap even further and let these companies have a sponsoring stake in these schools, or if its too expensive, maybe adopt some of their upper secondary classes for part of their work. The students get paid and educated, and the companies get mileage, a ready pool of perhaps creative potential that remains untapped, and perhaps would be able to give them better ideas from a different, more youthful perspective! Hmmm, perhaps these could be the Medici Effect happening right before their very eyes!


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