What role does our personal history play in our experience of learning?
Through my personal life experiences, I have developed an ability to empathise with someone who is about to go through what I have gone through while studying at design school. I aim to teach the fundamentals/essentials but also illustrate emerging subjects to a diverse and large cohort of students. Growing up in a multicultural society in Singapore, I understood the importance of diversity. We need to acknowledge an individual’s passions and limits. It is important to give them freedom and allow them to play seriously. I frown upon teaching to meet what the industry needs. I think design school allows one to develop radical concepts that challenges the industry.
What do we do with what we learn?
1. Store, and retrieve
Store, and retrieve. I teach technology, technical and techniques in product design. I am constantly researching new material and this informs what I teach. My lectures have to be carefully curated due to a substantial amount of material I have accumulated over the years.
Unlearn. We should not accept new knowledge or learnings as truth. We can use the knowledge acquired to question its authenticity and challenge it, where necessary. This can provoke further investigations into the subject matter and uncover new knowledge
Share. Perhaps this is the first thing a teacher would do. Tutors’ dual roles as current practitioners and educators is beneficial to students learnings, especially when a tutor share their area of expertise to students . However, “too many cooks spoil a broth”happens when the student cannot grasp how to make sense of all the comments. So, it is important to disseminate information according to learning levels of each student.
What are the risks in encountering new ways of thinking, being and making?
This new way of thinking might be confusing to students. “Making” is pragmatic and can be seen as a form of experimentation during the early stages of their course. We encourage this in stage one. “Being” is transient and I believe this is less pragmatic than making. If “being” is explained as an experience of some form, they can perhaps understand it better. The concept of “being” is important in the later stages of the course. Very often we (my course) see ourselves as a course which is a BA trying to be an MA. The students experiences a dichotomy in how they create their work/projects. A quarter of the final year students will grasp this experience(being) and push it extremely well but the rest will have confusion/conflicts during their studies. If “being” and “making” is working, the student’s learning experience would be greatly improved.
How does learning change the way we experience ourselves?
Learning allows me to view current issues with a curious mind. Not to reject it or be cynical. Often, it refreshes my approach to lectures and tutorials. As a studies leader/researcher, I acknowledged that design can be interdisciplinary. My research area is in emerging near-future typologies and they are relevant in the areas of my technical teachings for the students. I became more critical about what I do in my professional current practice and question what is more imperative: the final result or the process ?
Do you agree with Huxley’s view on experience? “Experience is not what happens to you. It’s what you do with what happens to you”. (Aldous Huxley 1932, Texts and Pretexts)
In the teaching context, this is relevant and I agree with him. Students might not perform under pressure. They can also be over ambitious and that can lead to failure. Through these they learn. My case studies and lectures tend to honour the good examples/”best practises”. Recently, I have been reading books on failure, product recalls and the Museum of Failure. I think they can also benefit from learning what has failed. Once the student graduates and start practising, the work environment is dynamic, unforgiving and harsh. The prior experiences becomes more relevant and useful. It is what they have achieved or failed earlier that makes them stand out from their future work.