Monday, March 17, 2008

The shape of things to come...

I just came back from a 'recruitment' talk of sorts for the new Singapore's School of Science and Technology (SST), and came away from it impressed at the way things are going on in the education field. I mean the very idea that i propounded months or even years back, about anti-silo'ing and non-compartmentalising subject areas into vertical silos of sorts, is somehow or rather going to be a reality in all its glory (or otherwise) very soon. We are going to practicalise and operationalise the acquisition of these content knowledge in all its various forms, and see to it a more integrated and more importantly, a more 'applied' approach towards education. I mean why wait for our charges to go out to work to 'test' our products, why not 'test' them here and know, at the stage where they are acquiring the necessary skillsets and knowledge! It is only then that the teachers can be confident of the quality of their 'products', for lack of a better term!

But i do hope that when one embarks on such an experimental journey, do please remember that no doubt the tools in your rucksack would help you in one way or another, but it is also a double-edged sword to you too, it might alternatively too hold you back, slow you down, or worse, is too big a 'baggage' for you to carry it along when you just want to dive into the hole that the 'blue' pill offers (think Matrix...and you know what I mean! :) )

Saturday, March 8, 2008

What is your 'Design' age?

My significant other and myself recently had a talk on her frustrations of teaching one of her cousin's children on the basic rudiments of mathematics. It seems pretty hard for her to share and 'infect' her joys and passion for mathematics to this child, let alone make him see the simplicity and 'logicness' of mathematics. To me, i reasoned with her that it is simply just a case of a 'mathematical mismatch'. Both of them got onto the wrong start/foot when they were initially 'matched', and hence this is the price that she has to pay for this 'mismatch'. And more importantly, I do believe that at times it is not so much of one's ability, or inability in this case, that is the problem, but rather, the (lack of) capacity to internalise and the (lack of) maturity to accept or 'see' things as it is, and having the intellectual wherewithal thereafter to then use it and deep-rooting that knowledge within your knowledge bank. I mean you can be a 10-year old physically, but mathematically, you are still perhaps maybe having the mathematical intelligence of only a 7-year old!

Which somehow brings me to my title for today, which is how old are you in terms of your 'Design' age? I do believe that as products are getting to get beyond the mere superficiality of functions, and as aesthetics take precedence over as the key driver of most decision-making process when purchasing products, the societal mental 'Design' age has undergone a tremendous boost! I mean if you ask anybody right now who has just a basic idea of what design is all about, about why they buy the things that they buy, more often than not, the main theme that seems to permeate is the way the things are designed. Lest we forget, iPod did take over Creative only recently in their market dominance of mp3 players. Samsung is beefing up their design capacity too, and look at their range of products now! So woow!

But then, how do we then 'teach' design? Seems funny that after all these years of teaching design, I am coming back to the basic question that I've longed been seeking an answer to! How do we then measure our 'Design' age? Unlike IQ tests or EQ tests, or DISC measuring tools, how can we measure than a child's ability to discern a good design from a bad one. Is there like a DQ (Design Quotient) test of sorts that we can mete out to them to know their design age? And I am talking about this in the absence of marketing and advertising being the catayst of some of our decision-making process, which is sadly, not always reliable and logical. But that is another story altogether.

So what IS your DESIGN age?