Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Designing 'critical thinking': Infusing criticality in a design & media lesson

In Part 1 of this article on critical thinking, I would like to go a little deeper into how such a skill can be uncovered through the creation of appropriate lesson experiences in a design and media lesson. But before going a little deeper, one must need to understand that trying to observe and experience critical thinking in the minds of 13 and 14-year-olds is definitely not something that would seem obvious. And in fact, it is also not something that an educator like myself could clearly see tangibly, or observe that explicitly. It takes a while for one to uncover and be able to 'see' it being peeled, layer by layer, by the students. It takes a certain degree of patience and mediation for this process to happen, but the reassurance that the results would be worth it is really something that makes all these efforts worthwhile.

My premise here is to give students an opportunity to apply their creativity and criticality into (RE)designing local architectural works. In part 1 of this article, I would like to just take the readers into the minds of one of our students, as he tries his hands at redesigning this historical landmark into something else, without it losing its architectural form and heritage values. Most of the information is available HERE, but I would just like to highlight one case

In the above visual, the student is looking at converting the railway terminal station at Tanjong Pagar, Singapore, into a museum that would capture the railway history that has spanned almost a century here. His ideas of upgrading and modernising the look and feel of the museum, whilst still maintaining the overall look and feel of the neo-classical facade is a step in the right direction.

And as part of this updating of the flavour of the structure and the experience of this railway museum, the student also suggested the idea of incorporating modern-day amenities, and then linking this up with the other railway station located further north...so as to create a railway museum experience that really has a working railway incorporated into it. The tracks itself would not be dismantled fully, but would be reused for the proposed train carriages that would ply between the 2 stations to offer museum visitors, especially the younger generation, that experience of railway nostalgia.

Taking things at hindsight, there was a lot of thought that has been made into looking at redesigning the station into something like what the student has proposed. Opposing needs and the study of demographics, as well as the need to be sensitive to current and future developments, are some key considerations made.

And not only were the criticality of thought needed at the planning stages, it was also evident at the conceptualisation and brainstorming stages, when things needed to be more detailed and specific in nature.  The use and inclusion of appropriate furniture, that would best capture the mood of what the museum should look and feel like, is one such consideration. The location of the various spaces for eating, relaxing and other museum activities were also considered with a greater degree of detail. The use of a visualisation tool like Google SketchUp was indeed a godsend here, as the student was able to ideate and then bring his visualisations into a more communicable form with the 3-dimensional models that he has generated.

For more details of the project, and the other ideas and suggestions by other students that have decided to work on redesigning this grand old dame of a station, do visit the SITE. Comments and critique are most welcome.

No comments: