TEACHING

Today a few weeks have gone by, perhaps a full months in which our teachers, accompanying staff, and fellow students have shown themselves to one another in a few different lights (myself included).

There is no hidden euphemism is this introduction, only an ounce of passive-aggressive critique of the class.

At the beginning (after the last post) there was some floating around on a few groups’ end. Floating means indecisive progress which equates to wander in self-dug trenches of uncertainty rather than moving forward. In this type of situation it is incredibly pleasant and freeing to have someone from the outside shake you up and remind you a world exists outside of your puddle of passive exploration.

For that however, you need straight forward teachers.

A rare gem that we certainly were lacking. Is that too crude? Too cruel? Should I be thankful for their time? Should I say “Hugo, it’s not your teachers’ job to clean up after you?!”

Yes, true, and I did. But to anyone this has happened to, I would like to present the following reasoning:

Imagine this trench as a prison, a world harder and harder to get out of, where the jailers are the walls you are digging, in other words, there is “no one to blame,” no one to recognize as your captor, then you quickly forget you are kicking mud on a daily basis.

It seems being able to notice that on one’s own is one of the best skills an investigator (detective, scientist, doctor, designer) can have.

What if you don’t? As a student, it becomes easy to listen to your instructors.

“Do this, then that.”
“Oh thank you! Wait what was that?”
“Come on, I said this, then that.”
“Right, sorry, thank you.”

Let’s superimpose this conversation onto the analogy of the trench, if you are digging a hole for yourself a good teacher (according to me) would:

1) Warn you
2) Let you screw up a bit (a bit more?)
3) At the last minute offer you a way out, an option
4) OR let you totally screw up and the provide constructive feedback on how to avoid such a demise next time and learn what was to be learnt.

One of our teachers is like that. He also only happens to be available on tuesdays. One out of the three to four days the other teachers get to muck up the waters with us (students).

Harsh? No, being a good teacher is possible as pointed out by our tuesday collaborator.

I am only getting to the core of this discussion now:

My interpretation of a teacher’s role is very simplified, too simplified. If we were to further unwrap this complex concept of “teacher” I think the situation begs for a little more context. DESIGN TEACHERS.

A math teacher has many things they can teach as “truths” (to a certain degree of course), but in that sense they are providers of knowledge, of understanding. Trust then becomes inherently present: “they know.”

Of course this paradigm changes with more advanced education. True. But let’s set that observation aside for the time being.

My point is to say that in our class for example we are confronted with two archetypes of teachers (or more) with the same name which I find inappropriate. If on one hand a teacher can be a PROVIDER of KNOWLEDGE, in a field like “design” or any “explorative” field (explorative meaning where diversity of interpretation should be valued) then teachers should become ADVISORS.

These are the two archetypes I was referring to: PROVIDER of KNOWLEDGE or ADVISOR. In design this seems to be a very challenging field too many times (this current course included) the understanding of the result is meant to be mass-produced in other words immutably set.

Our tuesday teacher is great because as he has said himself he is able to identify his critiques as theoretical or practical, he identifies what type of feedback would be most appropriate at that moment.

The others seem to blur the lines. They listen to a few words and imagine their own version of our project. Then the game becomes dancing around them trying to understand what vision we unintentionally imprinted in their head. They treat exploration as a linear process, which the can teach as PROVIDERS OF KNOWLEDGE rather than ADVISORS.

I disagree.

Then comes the actual character of the teacher: one who cares, or doesn’t care, one who care about their image, those who do less, those who are straight forward and those who are mute.

There are many examples but these are most relevant to my current course. To all the teachers and future teachers: PLEASE BE STRAIGHT FORWARD.

I will close by a description of a critique we received (my teammate and I) a few weeks ago:

You have been promising great things, you can sketch, you can speak, but there is no more time to entertain any sort of theoretical conversation anymore, it’s been five weeks! This project is about craft, its future and the future of making, so MAKE! Then I will be able to crit you on you development of form which is currently inexistent.

I can’t wait to see the results but frustrated and tired of waiting! I want to see and feel!

So, alright, how can I help. Hmmm… Here let’s plan this out, what steps should do next, let’s write them down […].

DONE. That’s a constructive, powerful crit to die for.

Thank you Charles Sensei, tuesday teacher.

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