Improving Design Education
Last Monday I gave a lecture to first year students on brand and packaging design at a prominent University here in Melbourne. This is part of the students curriculum in the Communication Design undergraduate degree and something I have been involved in for the past 6 years. While my time in this area is not financially motivated, I was disappointed to hear several months ago, that I was not going to be invited back due to a cut in higher education funding that ultimately did not prioritise engaging industry in paid guest lectures. Needless to say, I gave the lecture pro-bono.
As a former student and educator of design, I passionately believe in the importance of engaging the broader design industry in the education and mentoring of young students. These are formulate and critical years for a young person and I see it as our role in industry to help inspire and guide them as a supplementary support system to their academic theory and practical course work.
Sadly, I feel there has been a significant shift in the focus on our higher education system which has seen the practical methods of a designer’s craft be diminished and replaced by self-taught digital technologies. The role of critical thinking, design process, group learning and practical skills seems to have been relegated for an approach focused on quantity, online learning and autonomy. As the owner of a creative business, I don’t’ believe any of these methodologies are conducive to growing and developing well-rounded professional designers prepared for the realities of our industry.
I am hopeful that will enough pressure and persistence from our dedicated educators, we will see a stronger relationship between industry and higher education providers. In the mean-time, I will continue to do my small part in supporting young designers via in-studio work experience, one-on-one mentoring and guest lectures in the hope of motivating and inspiring their approach to communication design as a professional career path.
In the words of Milton Glaser, “The real issue is not talent as an independent element, but talent in relationship to will, desire and persistence”