Image by Mitch Goldstein and Anne Jordan from walking.designcrit.com

A Learning Pedagogy

Every educator has a pedagogy, often written down somewhere and referred to as a “teaching statement” or a “teaching philosophy.” Educators spend a lot of time developing and refining their pedagogy. It is not simply a set of rules and directives. It is not something that is handed out to students on the first day of class. It is not a set of laws that are followed to the letter. Instead, a pedagogy is a constantly growing, continually evolving idea about how we attempt to approach our teaching activity.

Educators generally have to produce a written pedagogy in order to secure a teaching position. What about everyone else — designers, makers and thinkers — who don’t teach? Do they need a pedagogy? I think they do — they need a learning pedagogy. A way to approach learning. A guideline to how to take in and process information and knowledge. A way to look at the noise and see the signal. It is far too easy to surf the popular design blogs, read various designers’ Twitter feeds, and feel like you are being educated. We need to take a conscious, active attitude towards what we are looking at, who we are listening to, and what we are processing.

I do not think everyone needs to drop what they are doing and write a “learning statement.” You do not need to make a page on your website to publish your learning philosophy to be upheld to it by your peers. However, it is critically important to consider more carefully what we think about art and design. I think a learning pedagogy is about giving some serious thought to your opinion on what you see and experience as a designer. Maybe we need to be more critical of what we read, more questioning of what we subscribe to in our RSS readers, and give more consideration to who we follow on Tumblr. If design without consideration is merely decoration, then what is learning without consideration?