As stated by Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” My teaching philosophy is based on the belief that design education has the power to make an impact on students and their future as creative citizens. As the field of design evolves, design education must evolve correspondingly with the needs of society. In the world today many societal problems plague our daily lives: how do we design prescription pill bottles so the elderly can read safely consequently saving their life, how does environmental design and wayfinding affect the safety of a crowded airport in an emergency evacuation?
It is my belief that students should be encouraged to think about their role in making visual communication tools that are more legible and understandable to all audiences, in an inclusive way. I believe designers of the future will no longer solely have an end goal of getting a paid position in the design field of their choice, but rather to use their talents to make a difference in society.
How I teach:
With the understanding that not all students learn the same way, multiple formats of instruction are incorporated into my daily lectures. I focus on three types of learning are utilized in the classroom to reach all students: auditory, kinesthetic, and visual methods. Lectures and class discussions reach the auditory learners through utilization of vocal instruction and conversation. Kinesthetic methods of learning come into play when working in the lab through demonstrations and by “doing” or active participation in the demo. Visual learning is applied in many ways to my classroom discussions through presentations and hands on learning resources.
In my classroom I focus on creating a real world studio like environment where focus is put on individually evaluated teamwork rather than group work. Group work has had a negative connotation in academia for some time due to faculty focusing one final grade on outcomes irrelevant to the individual student and their contribution. Each week class discussions are concentrated on current events, professional concerns, an industry topics related to post graduation life as a creative entrepreneur. Through this introduction to a broad range of topics, students are asked to participate in conversations about diverse topics and find ways that this discussion may affect them as professionals.
For design projects, I focus on Client-Based projects rather than traditional mock design projects that will never surface outside of the classroom environment. Students are required to learn the design techniques and technology while creating a visually appealing and applicable solution for the real world client.
Documenting their work through print and e-portfolios is a key area that I focus. As a design student myself, I was rarely reminded to do this important task. Waiting until my senior year portfolio class felt too late to go through years of work. I also focus on showcasing student work in a professional setting through public events such as a film premiere night, public client presentations, in addition to mock interviews with creative professionals from off campus. These opportunities create pressure to perform and mimic real world experiences post graduation.
As an advisor and active design professional, I create a professional yet personalized relationship with the students so that they feel comfortable asking for help when needed.
Why I teach the way I teach
In 2011, the American Institute of Graphic Artists (AIGA) instituted an initiative for the design discipline, called Design for Good. “Design for Good is a platform to build and sustain the implementation of design thinking for social change.” This movement has directly impacted the how and why I teach. I greatly appreciate the role of teaching design education and the potential of influencing so many students in a positive way as researchers, designers, and citizens in our complex and diverse world. I will always challenge my students to get out of the state of “disregard” and find their passion. At the early stage of freshman and sophomore years when asked the question “what are you passionate about?” there is often little or no response. Yet, the same students often come back later to thank me for challenging them to find the personal answer to the question. When students are able to look at the world and see it as an open palette with motivation to make a difference, I feel I have succeeded as an educator. At the end of the day, it is most rewarding part to have a student return to share how they made a difference through design.