My Teaching Philosophy
Design education is no longer vocational, thus should not be simply considered job training, in which the content of industrial design education is mechanistically defined as skill, process and presumptuous understanding of an ill-defined body of knowledge. Nigel Cross’s book Designerly Ways of Knowing identified that design is a human ability. That is repeatedly discovered among creatives, scientists, artists, engineers, poets to name a few. My definition of Design, no matter which specialty, is a behavioral paradigm that depicts how humans react to given circumstances.
Therefore, to educate a designer does not merely mean having students to emulate what has been capable by predecessors. The design education at the collegiate level is intended to nurture a student’s ability of design so their aspirations can be translated into action advancing the material culture of society. Which, in the meantime, should not disqualify students from job finding for an industrial design job. Conversely, they should be rather indispensable and valuable to the served business and even to the entire economy.
The essential of teaching industrial design to my definition is to facilitate students’ metacognitive development on abductive reasoning and decision making. Based on which is the educational content including skill, knowledge, specialization, and the process of industrial design can be arranged accordingly in a way that truly reflects the nature of established professional practice. Such philosophy would encourage self-initiated learning that provides the foundation for designerly knowing.
My teaching objective is to nurture student’s voluntary growth in both knowing how and knowing that in relate to the profession:
To cultivate how. I discipline myself to make a non-invasive impact on student thinking while encourage them to explore the possibilities and build up solid arguments. I am inclined to use reasoning against empiricism; self-determined goals against public conception; evidence against speculation; execution against excuse.
To accomplish that, I practice strategies to pave the road for a meaningful learning experience, which are threefold: Specification Progression, and Self-Driven.
Specification: Although design education outweighs learning-by-doing over predefined questions and answers, it is nonetheless important to denote key points of introduced technique, knowledge, and measurable outcomes. For instance, in communication classes, where classes often taught by requiring a student to emulate a given demonstration. Oftentimes a grade would be given by the level of overall completion losing track of mastery of attributes such as perspective, fluidity, preciseness, etc. In my class, I use the cognitive method in addition to the skill training mindset when teach drawing. I require students to write about their ideas and goal for communication, which would be used as criteria of the deliverables.
Progression: Surgical deployment of milestones in accordance with student’s ability. Acknowledging that design ability builds upon the integration of bookish knowledge and tacit knowledge, I endeavor to set up the milestones demanding synergistic effort from students to hurdle. The hurdles create consecutive inquiry-based learning sessions that engage student’s skill, knowledge, then catalyze them to form their personal theories of design.
Self-Driven: Successful design education should inspire a student to apply creative and critical thinking to, but not limited to, an industrial design career, whereas the vocational pedagogy goes nowhere beyond. Other than nurturing the capability of design, fostering the willpower to change, envision, empathize is nonetheless critical.
I consider this power self-drivenness, the trait that drives people to reflect on the facts gathered upfront and to alter into the desired state. It is a mentality, an attitude, an ability that can be mastered by engaging students with the reciprocating mechanism of making decisions and assessing its impact. Therefore, I would struggle to accentuate stimuli to provide students with the atmosphere that nourishes self-driven growth, with the ease of making things and errors.
Teaching design ethics
I am a proponent of the ethics in design, the doctrine to designers as the Hippocrates Oath to the physicians. A promise originated from embellishing the terrifying machinery onward to the tool for creating material equity. Design would have been irrelevant to the humanity had it served solely for materialism. I believe the teaching of design ethics, is to teach student think empathetically and sustainably.
Teaching empathy is to teach designers design for others. There are two perspectives I’ve committed to within this endeavor, empathetic research and thinking. The former refers to primary and qualitative research methods that embedded in the design research process such as interview, user immersion, and other observational tools that collect authentic data from others. The latter requires more of a reflective method that seizes opportunities where a meaningful debate about a particular design decision can be brought up. I frequently orchestrate the debate to break down the idea from a student to the points that they can realize what they presumed and deliberated, and justify whether are the ideas empathetic and human-centric.
Teaching sustainability is to teach designers to make the decision with consideration of environment and consumption. Most cases, sustainability, means design less, design better. In a system that was built upon the planned obsolescence, our student learned to create, to satisfy, to even evoke new desire without measurement of its impact on the economy, society, and environment. It is not until the next generation designers understand problem-solving apart from industry preferred manufacturability, can we truly discuss sustainable design. My mission, as an educator, is to broaden their scope of problem-solving so that an interdisciplinary body of knowledge can be utilized to design less but better.
Teaching is not only giving away what I’ve learned but also a multifaceted learning experience for me. I like learning from students, to know what they have taken for granted and how can I better sparkle their aspiration. I like learning by research into their process of learning and how can I better accelerate it. Lastly, I like harvesting the surprise of seeing them achieve the unprecedented. Teaching industrial design gives me the opportunity to embrace, discover, be passionate about, and make the best use of what my career had taken me to.
After all, it is a designer’s life experience makes them who they are. Hopefully, with the help of my philosophy, they can learn without fear of difficulty, do without the fear of failure, and be ambitious to change the world with one design at a time.