Design Education : Fulfilling or Lacking?

So here is my conclusion to what is missing:

Passionate Students

Maybe it is the school I attend, or the people I have worked along side of, but where is the passion? Where is the love of learning new things, bettering yourself, bettering your community? I had a teammate once say to me, “No one turns in perfect projects in this class, it is okay if it is not perfect.” I went home and cried that day. How can anyone accept turning in a project that is not the best they could do? But this happens everyday. Students just do not care. Excuse my French but they just don’t give a shit.

Professors Who Care

I know you all have lives, and I know teaching is not easy. It is hard to inspire people to do work and to get inspired. But just because 80% of the class does not care, does not mean you should not care. I have had countless professors who show up to class, sit in a chair to give a lecture, show a ton of videos, and then say “ah y’all will go through this later.” I am paying 1,000’s of dollars for you to teach me. If the rest of the class does not care. I do. I am here. Teach me. And I know I am not the only one who wants to learn. Teaching is hard. But please do not just show up and go through the motions, inspire me, inspire me like you wanted to inspire your students on the first day of your first class ever. Push me harder even when I think I have done all that I can do. Learn our (students) strengths and weaknesses and exploit them. Push us out of our comfort zone. Be a mentor not just a professor.

Conversations

I had this epiphany in the spring. I love service design, and I feel okay about industrial design. I kept asking why? Well service design classes have design conversations, the service design scad Facebook page is incredibly hard to keep up with because people are posting so many great articles and having discussions and that is completely lacking in industrial design. But I stick with industrial design because I feel like I can be myself and I am accepted easier. Which is all the means for another blog because I could go on forever. But how come we go to school where we do not talk about design news? I was in a class where we had to redesign the hairdryer and the Dyson hairdryer had come out maybe a month or so before hand but why did we not discuss it? Why did we not spend the class diving into why the design decisions were made? How was it manufactured? Why was the CMF chosen? Why do we not look at the award winning designs and evaluate them? Pick them a part and discuss how to make our products and services to that level?

Meaningful Projects

So many professors assign the same exact projects, let’s design a system for the local coffee shops, let’s design a drone, lets design camping gear…These projects are extremely overdone in the design world. How do we design things that are innovative and inspiring? It’s hard to be inspired when quarter after quarter, year after year, the same projects are being given. Many seniors from other schools have jaw dropping senior projects…some of the senior projects I have seen have been thoughtless and eh. Maybe that’s just me but students are out there designing life changing systems and products. By life changing I don’t just mean medical but anything that is designed with empathy in mind.

Room for failure

Professors are always telling you to fail. They are always saying the best projects come from large failures. But how do I accept failure when my grade, my gpa, and then my loans are on the line? Personally, I am terrified of completely bombing a project. Missing the mark, designing something that will never work, that honestly is just wrong. Because if I fail to hard, some professors will actually give you a bad grade, even if you tried something new and pushed yourself. How do I know what professor am I going to have? Do I have the professor who will see my hard work and still pass me or do I have the professor who sees I failed and fails me? It’s a scary idea. I have my loan, and education on the line for every single project I do. How do I risk that?

Collaboration Lessons

Design is all collaborating. Everything in design is with a variety of people. We never actually learn how to collaborate or how to lead teams. There is an actual science to it and I have spoken to a lot of people about it, companies like Apple send their employees to leadership workshops. But why is there not a class on it? Even as an elective “the social science of collaboration” or something like that. I know that we learn a lot from just doing it but there are techniques that will push design students ahead if only we were taught them. Or maybe that could be something for a club to teach?

Exposure to real world situations

Many of the response I have received a line with this.

“How to price your work, what are the best ways to charge clients and deal with them?” -Luke Pfost
“How to shop for manufactures, any manufacturing education was focused on how things are made, but not how to find suppliers and what they need to make your design.” -Josh Lofgreen
“Our education teaches us the ideal of what they wish the design field was but not what the majority of companies are actually looking for.” -Nathan Porteous

Social Science

My friend Liz Possee sent me this article and pointed out this quote,

“Design schools do not train students about these complex issues, about the interlocking complexities of human and social behavior, about the behavioral sciences, technology, and business. There is little to no training in science, the scientific method, and experimental design. “ -Don Norman

Space

My building especially. It’s so overcrowded that you can’t find computers to work on, or they are so slow and so overworked they crash when you try to render a Keyshot file. There are classrooms that are full from 8am — 7:30pm…so where am I supposed to do work and collaborate with my teams? I toured CCS while I was in Detroit all of their areas are open with large desks and moving walls. There is student work EVERYWHERE. It’s incredibly inspiring!! Yet, some spaces we have are gray and full of students’ work from 10+ years ago.

Travel

Luckily SCAD has two great study abroad programs Lacoste, France and Hong Kong. I was fortunate to study in Lacoste but unfortunately Hong Kong didn’t work out for me. Maybe it’s just me but I love to travel and immerse myself into different cultures. Everywhere I go teaches me a new thing about life or design. But sometimes education holds you back. I want to go to a new place for my senior research quarter. I want to do ethnography research, hands on, meaningful research in a place that I know nothing. I have no bias or opinions. Yet, I’m told I’m not allowed too. Why?!?

Community

This is my biggest point! We have no community. I am the president of Service Design Club, President of Gulfstream Student Relations, and Vice President of IDSA, and yet, I still feel like we have no community. We have small groups of friends but no overarching proud feeling in our building. We host meetings and maybe 5–10 people come. We host fun events and maybe 1–5 people come. And then we have those people who say they want a community but never show up to a single thing. How are we supposed to support each other when it’s always a one way street? How do we build a community when people have been dismissing the people trying for years?


Originally published at www.mpreiss.com.

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