Non linear education

Well it seems like reading the post and links up on blackboard are all trying to get us to reflect on our individual experiences, though I am going to take the example of  Design Education: The Clarity of Hindsight as I feel that it talks well about its not just the education set out for you but the opportunities individuals make or take for themselves.

Looking back to first year I had no clue what the course really held ahead for me, I went in unsure if this was the right place for me knowing I wanted to be create and also challenged, and come out the course a stronger and more intelligent person than I went in. I like most had believed I would be designing pretty objects/products when leaving the course, and would choose an area of some kind to specialise in and call my own.

I remember walking into my first studio class and seeing a mass of people crammed into this room and four lectures out the front. There seemed to be about 80 or 90 altogether, and we had all found our seats and then it seemed that a designer had a set of rules to follow which at the time took a little seriously, but now I have found a style/process that works for me. It seems that there where no room for grey leads in our lives and we should all be using A3 pads, carry around A5 sketch book every where (the only piece of advice that was worth keeping from that day) and would need to buy a whole lot of rendering markers.

The last thing from that studio I carry with me until this day is to embrace mistakes and failures. We all make them and will undoubtedly make more learning how to learn from them and relish them is the best thing a creative person can do. Why? It makes you take more risks and leads you out of your comfort zone into the unknown. This is where a designer should operate and work in the unknown as people in the end aren’t going to be predictable. As much as we like to think things are 100% resolved they are not.

This is where new paths are created unless if you are happy to follow some one else’s (Yes this is a safe option you know results and have nothing to loose.) This is the hardest part as it’s a gamble every time as you can loose everything, then have to learn from the mistakes and start again. At the same time nothing is more rewarding than not knowing feeling like you are onto something new and different, looking from a different angle applying something from what you have seen on something else to a new application is a what if approach to everything and anything. It’s also a Pandora’s Box once opened it can’t be closed as there are no answers really only more questions.

I went in with the belief that I knew nothing about design and that I was here to learn everything from the basics right up to the hard technical components and how to get things manufactured, this gave me an open mind that was willing to except a few oddities along the way. After covering the basics in first semester I slowly grew in confidence picturing that I could actually be a designer. (I previously had been told by other design schools that I was so far behind and would find it hard to catch up after seeing my high school work. This had always made me feel like I was behind though in hindsight I was never really at all. We all go in with a different starting point and RMIT knows this and has designed the course to teach you from the basics.)

Not until second semester when I had a little taste at everything I felt this was a path that number one I loved passionately and could easily dedicate my time too, and that I actually could build up skills when needed in a nice training way. (Yes the internet helps a lot with this thanks to heaps of design blogs linking you to CAD tips, drawing, and writing and pretty much anything you want to learn the basics of to practice and gradually master.) In this second semester I met to people that confused my mind so much they seemed to challenge and question every bone in my body, these where Liam and Soumitri one from studio the other design studies. An answer simply wasn’t good enough as there is more than one answer to any question, people have unique characteristics, and behaviors hard to uncover and change. We could no longer assume anything, they also told us they where no longer marking us at all this is left up to ourselves and our peers, and we where to set out a mark at the start of the semester and change it at the end to what we believe is rightfully ours in comparison to everything we have done and achieved.

A good teacher is not only someone who can teach you about what they know but also about what you know but just haven’t uncovered yet. This is with anything as they can slowly teach you skills that you can apply in situations to obtain unknown successful outcomes. You are always growing while learning and there should be times when you feel as if you uncover things that you felt you new all along but had be looking in the wrong spot until a good teach suggests things on the side, helpful feedback and the support that if you end up in the dark they will always be yelling advice to you from the side.

This I believe is self directed learning at its best, as we all have personal goals and motivations and we are all in the same course for the same reason to become a designer, but having someone harp at you for hours about how they work is the right way and everyone does it this way and the more common “right way to do something” isn’t the best way, unless if they share the same experiences and knowledge you can understand why things are done you are just told and never question. Though things date certain information and skills are suited to certain environments and if you are copying methods and skills set out by someone else you are not set up to self learn, critique and discover. There should be no voice that is strong than your own, sure there are many voices to guide it but you should guide them back saying and challenging them why something works and why something does not.

I find listing to other people who have been there and done that valuable as it’s the hindsight that you never get to experience. They know possible problems so you can skip a few steps though this doesn’t mean there isn’t room to test things out and make a few mistakes.

My lower years where all about skill building and I learnt the basics and potential of design and what it can be, I learnt to question resources, agendas my environment, my background and more importantly what do I have to offer. In the upper years the refinements begin using these skills to refine ideas, building upon and expand these skills.

I don’t think that you should ever come away from any project thinking it’s finished as there is more that can be down, the hindsight factor that if you could have gone back and done this differently it would have changed this and made it better should still niggle a bit and list of improvements should come. When we are over satisfied we stop learning as we stop questioning and loose creativity, we loose our own paths we set out.

RMIT methods have set me up to value self learning and education, if I need to learn a new piece of software I know how to do this, write a business plan talk to engineers, manufacture something I know I can take on any project and self learn what’s needed along the way. What stages I need help with or have lack of time to achieve and bring others on board. As all projects that we are going to undertake will be different, as I gain more life experience and my priorities change I will have more to put into my practice I have learnt how to ensure its constantly growing and evolving and how to implement my values in my work. I know how to be idealistic and realistic at the same time, letting my imagination run riot and then tame it back to something tangible, grounded and resolved in a time frame to ensure I am growing as an individual and accepting differences and taking risks.

There are only two paths to follow you can follow in someone else’s footsteps, knowing the route and path ahead, or you can make your own nice and fresh. There are times where you need the safety of a path and times when you need to break it and run free. These other footsteps are imprinted by the traditional people go to school get a job, work your way into a better position and retire. Set paths are if I do this I get this job, others have the ability to make their own jobs not being placed under other titles and categories as they build unique skill sets and no one else can quite do what they do. This is the path I wish to take, where no one else quote does what I can do and I am valued for it.


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