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Design tutorials: the basics | SB129
Within design education, there’s little shared wisdom about how to conduct a tutorial. The tutorial is the bread and butter of design learning; the main pedagogic object of interaction. But we, the design community, rarely share the nuts and bolts of how to navigate and steer a student through a successful project; how to encourage, provoke, inspire and lead a designer into new and fascinating territories.

In this post, I’d like to outline a few basics. It’s me, stating the obvious, in what I consider good pedagogic practice; how best to support, guide and get the most out of students and their work.

I believe the things I’ve learnt over the last ten or so years are applicable to other disciplines and within the professional context of design. Whether as a Creative Director or a Design Manager, the following points are a good place to start when it comes to directing creativity;

Listening is Key

At the heart of a good tutor is their ability to listen. Understanding ideas, position and intent allows for more connected, meaningful feedback. Asking questions to clarify is key to aiding your understanding. Sometimes students take a long time to get to the salient point, they can skirt around the topic due to a lack of confidence, confusion or perception of expectation, so be patient, let them ‘talk out’, only respond when you understand what’s in front of you. Wait until nerves die down to get to the heart of the matter, then you’ll be in the best position to advise.

Ownership and embodiment

It’s all to common for design tutors to try to design vicariously – to direct a student in a way that they would do the project. This, in my opinion, is a flawed approach. It has a history in the master/apprentice model of education; watch, copy, admire, repeat (where learning is a happy side effect). However, it rarely allows the student to feel ownership over the content and learning experience.

Within Art and Design, intellectual ownership is a tricky subject to navigate. The messy and complex network of ideas become distributed across a number of different references, conversations and people, the genesis of an idea is difficult to locate. Tutors that have a ‘that was my idea’ attitude rarely survive or remain happy and motivated. Intellectual generosity is an essential quality of a good educator. Having the humility to understand and value that the adoption of ideas ‘as their own’ is an important part of learning – it allows for the embodiment of the ideas into the identity of the designer.

Mutual exploration

However, in the age of the Internet, the tutor as gateway to all knowledge is long gone. The ability (or illusion) of a Professor having read ‘everything’ in their discipline is a distant memory. When knowledge is acquired and disseminated in such a radically different manner, it calls for educational revolution. Sadly, the rise of the MOOC isn’t the revolution I was hoping for.

The abolishment of levels and the flattening of hierarchies are at the heart of how I believe education needs to change. Breaking the often fictitious boundaries between teaching and research to allow for the mutual exploration of ideas is a fundamentally different model of education. Sadly, due to financial scalability, this remains relevant only to an elite. But as a tutor, see your conversations with students as a space to explore ideas, be the learner as much as the teacher. Reframe higher education away from the hierarchies of expertise towards mutual exploration of the distant boundaries of your discipline.

Expanding possibility space

It’s important to remember that a tutorial should be expanding the cone of possibility for the student. They should leave, not with answers, but with an expanded notion, a greater ambition of what they were trying to achieve. It’s important to be ambitious and set tough challenges for your students, otherwise boredom or (heavens forbid) laziness can take over. Most student’s I’ve met love being thrown difficult challenges, most rise to the occasion, all learn a great deal. In order to move towards the goal of a self determined learner, the student should control the decisions of the design process. If you’re telling them what to design, not opening up possibilities and highlighting potential problems, you’re probably missing something.

Understand motivation, vulnerability and ‘learning style’

Every student we teach, learn in a different way, have different hopes and desires, react to feedback in a different way. Navigating and ‘differentiating’ these differences is really difficult. Some tutors take a distanced intellectual approach, where the content in front of them is a puzzle that needs to be solved, this is the classic personae of the academic, distanced, emotionally arid, intellectually rigorous. But this doesn’t alway mean a good learning experience. Other tutors operate on a more psychological level; the try to understand the emotional context of the situation and adapt their advise accordingly. Whatever happens, understand you have a individual in front of you, they have lives outside of the studio, they are going through all manner of personal shit that will effect their attention and engagement. They come from different cultures, different educational backgrounds, so their response to your advice is going to shift like the wind, be adaptive, read body language and don’t go in like a bulldozer (I have definitely done this in the past!).

In terms of learning style, without this becoming a paper on pedagogy, understand that your advice need to be tailored to different students. Some (a lot) need to learn through a physical engagement with their material, others needs to have an intellectual structure in place in order to progress. Throughout a project, course or programme, try to understand this and direct your advice accordingly.

Agreed direction

Tutorials shouldn’t just be general ‘chats’ about the project or world, they should give direction, tasks and a course of action. I have a rule: Don’t end the tutorial until you’ve both agreed a direction. This can be pretty tough to manage in terms of time, as I get more experienced, I get better at reaching an agreement within my tutorial time allocation, but I still often can overrun by hours. The important thing to work towards is the idea that you both understand the project, and you both understand how it could move. End the tutorial when this been reached.

Read and respond

It’s really important, in design, to respond to what is in front of you. To actual STUFF. It’s far too easy to let students talk without showing evidence of their work. This is a dangerous game. Words can deceive, hide and misrepresent action. Dig into sketchbooks, ask to see work they’ve done. If they haven’t done anything, ask them to go away and do something to represent their ideas and thoughts. Production is key to having a productive tutorial. Only through responding to actual material evidence of action can a project move forward. At its worst, students can develop the skill to talk about stuff, making it exciting in your mind, but fail to produce the project in the end. But this isn’t the main reason for this section, it’s more about the ideas of design residing in the material production, not just the explication. You can tell me what you believe something does or means, but it’s only when it’s in front of me that I can fully grasp this.

The art of misinterpretation

Another reason why it’s important to dig into sketchbooks and look at work, is that looking at something and trying to work out what it means – the space of interpretation – is an important space of learning. By interpreting and indeed misinterpreting work, you and your student can find out things about the project. If the student intended one thing and you understand something else by it, you’ve at least learnt that it was poorly (visually and materially) communicated. But the exciting stuff happens when misinterpretation acts as a bridge between your internal mental processes (with all references etc) and your students. Your reading of a drawing acts as a way to generate a new idea or direction. This is when there is genuine creative collaboration.

References

One of the roles of a tutor is to point students towards relevant and inspiring resources. In the age of the internet, when student’s roam the halls of tumblr and are constantly fed inspiration by their favourite design blogs, the use, meaning and impact of tutor driven references has changed. Be focussed with reading, ensure students know why they are looking at a particular reference and make sure that you contextualise the work within the ideas that they have."
mattward  2013  teaching  pedagogy  cv  howweteach  howwelearn  design  art  tutotials  canon  listening  ownership  understanding  interpretation  misinterpretation  embodiment  making  exploration  apprenticeships  hierarchy  hierarchies  possibilityspace  motivation  vulnerability  feedback  constructivecriticism  context  empathy  conversation  audiencesofone  differentiation  contextualization  process  documentation  reflection  reggioemilia  emergentcurriculum  evidence  assessment  critique  communication  collaboration  mentoring  mentorship  mentors  response  action  direction  mutualaid 
april 2014 by robertogreco
I AM FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER — Medium
"Dad once called me his frankenstein’s monster, now this sounds like a hard and possibly cruel way to refer to your one and only son, but I never took it as an insult. In fact, I think it tells us about one of the most important traits of how he approached fatherhood; his ultimate aim was to create something he wasn’t. In this simple approach, he did something strong, brave and good. With two children, Vicky and myself, he achieved his goal — we became something completely other to him.

At times he would say that we spoke a different language; our words, ideas and cultural references made him feel like he’d been parachuted into a strange land.. We presented to him, on almost a weekly basis, a challenge to his values and positions on the world. We wouldn’t let him rest with views that were dubious in their ethical and political position, we argued him into submission and frustration. In short, we were massive pains in the arse.

I would like to celebrate this. Without my dad, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I wouldn’t be armed with the passion and drive to argue about the world. In his quite, provocative charm, Dad managed to create his frankensteins. In his desire to make me different to him, he gave me the ultimate prize — a voice of my own.

In a world, where individuals find it hard to take control and direct their lives, my parents gave Vicky and myself the most important powers, that of: autonomy, self determination and independence.

Now, I know my dad never read Mary Shelley. I know that his understanding of Frankenstein was more Boris Karloff than a deep literary analysis. But I think it’s important to recognise that Dr Frankenstein always loved his creation, he just couldn’t fully understand or control it. And like the monster, I was let loose on the world, to wreak havoc!

My favourite story about how dad pushed and extended my life experiences, experiences that he would never enjoy or understand, was with something very close to my heart — food. As a child, I was aware that there were no barriers to me experiencing food. No price too high, or food to strange, my dad would order it off the menu. It was only as an adult did I fully realise that he never partook. The frogs legs, the snails, the chickens feet all appeared at the table for his family to try, without a morsel touching his lips. He relished our enjoyment, he loved introducing me to things that he would never like himself. He sat back, like a voyeuristic gourmet, watching his family experiencing wonderful things. Hedonistic at times, the drive to see pleasure from others demonstrated my dad’s underlying generosity.

Although today, by his own standards, should be spent enjoying good food, great conversation and copious amounts of alcohol. I think I need to reflect on the last two years and the gradual loss, the mental and physical decline, of dad. Dementia is without doubt one of the cruelest diseases to take a person. Those that loved dad have had to witness a slow and miserable loss of his life blood. We have been mourning the man we loved for a while now. But this sad time is over, what we have to hold onto the memories of the good times, the memories of a man who would desperately hold onto his holidays, always provoked deep conversations and ultimately strived to have a good time.

Over the last two years, not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about the world without Tony Ward. However, by the time I was ready to say important things to dad, by the time it was necessary for him to say important things to me, he’d lost his grip on reality. This means I feel that I didn’t get chance to say goodbye, With the overwhelming emotional awkwardness that stops people discussing their feelings towards the people they love, the moment slipped by without me realising it.

But this is okay, it was unlikely, even if he was of sound mind that he’d have said anything. He struggled to express his emotions in that way. He was a man of ‘that generation’ — hard and stoic — and I’ve been aware of this for years. It first struck me, as a teenager, when I’d give him a kiss on the top of his head as he dropped me off at the train station to go to school. I could sense his physical discomfort, but instead of being put off, his monster continued, relishing and forcing him to get used to a big man kissing him in public. The last time I saw dad, on the day he died, I kissed his head."
mattward  parenting  2013  love  children  autonomy  independence  frankenstein  voice  self-determination  storytelling  dementia  food  life  living  debate 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Rethinking manhood — What I Learned Today — Medium
"I wasn’t quite prepared, as a father, to question the role of masculinity as I was the role of femininity. Three years ago we had a son, Herbie. It was my own short comings that led me to believe that having a boy would be easier. We (the men) are the ones with power, right? The fight against sexism, misogyny and prejudice isn’t there. How stupid am I? The battle and burden of responsibility for changing equality has to be placed on the parents of boys. What follows isn’t a well thought-out critique of gender politics, it’s heart-felt concern from a father rethinking his notion of manhood and masculinity. Here’s a few things that have triggered my growing discomfort:

Herbie is an Alpha male

It feels ridiculous to say this about a three-year old, but all signs point to the fact that he will be one of those aggressive men with iron will, self determination and dogged ambition. He’s physically strong, intellectually determined and a charming little bugger. This scares me. Now, I know it’s my job to guide and advise him in how he tackles the world and manages relationships, but sometimes I feel like King Canute — fighting against a force of nature so strong it will crush me.

Herbie loves fighting, I’ve been told that this is normal ‘boy behaviour’, but I find it quite hard to relate to. I have a vague memory of wrestling with my friends during childhood, but he’s three and relishes rough and tumble with an almost manic delight. Sometimes, I’m woken up by him at the bottom of my bed demanding; “Daddy, FIGHT ME!”. I’m not sure where this physical aggression comes from, be it baked into our genes since the time of the hunter/gather or leant through the continuous exposure of media representations. What I do know is that I’m unsure of how to direct it; how to harness the power towards doing good in the universe."



"Years ago, in conversation with the wonderful Anne Galloway, I remember her recounting stories of her enjoyment playing with Barbies as a young girl. I was shocked, as a strident feminist I’d expect a different story, maybe some regret or rejection of her younger more foolish self. But she made a brilliant point; it was what she was doing with them where role identity was constructed, the stories she told through them was the important thing.

This has stuck with me. I now try hard to shift the roles and activities that Batman and his peers engage in. It’s a great place for parents to start; the power is in the stories we tell our sons, the games that we play and the adventures that we act out. Stopping Herbie playing with his favourite Batman toys isn’t really a desirable option, I’d prefer to hijack, subvert and add sensitivity to a framework that we both love."



"We’ve had an on-going argument with Herbie about the sex of Peso Penguin. Peso is a great role model, caring, sensitive and smart. He’s a great team player, and the Octonauts medic. However, due to his rather effeminate voice Herbie is convinced Peso is a girl. It quickly became obvious to us, that the characters that go out into the wild to ‘explore, rescue and protect’ are all male. Although Tweek Bunny, the mechanic and inventor of the team, is female — GOOD WORK! — she stays behind looking after the Octopod."



"It makes me so sad that people can still be so blind to the harms of these material and marketing decisions. Each of these thoughtless material acts damage and mould, in however a tiny way, the gender roles of our future generations. We need to ensure that they are progressive and allow the space for a complex identity to be formulated."



"On return, I discussed this with my Mum, she reminded me that it was only on holiday that my dad played with us. He spent most of our lives working, distant and too tired to engage. He made up for this on holiday. Because of the novelty of his presence, we behaved like angels and relished every minute of his time. It made me realise that I was not comparing like with like. I’m a different kind of dad, more engage, more there, but because of this also more fallible. Our generation’s idea of fatherhood and masculinity are changing, we are softer, we care more, we listen and we play, all we need now is the culture to reflect this change."
mattward  parenting  boys  girls  gender  power  media  medialiteracy  genderpolitics  annegalloway  manhood  fathers  masculinity  2013 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Design Fiction as Pedagogic Practice — What I Learned Building… — Medium
"Asking students to imagine a world and design artefacts to communicate a set of beliefs or practices though the utilisation of fiction has been an essential part of the BA Design curriculum for over a decade. But the thing I’m most surprised by is how little has been written about the role of fiction and speculation as part of design education. I can understand how DF can have value in a research context in order to provoke and convince an audience of a possibility space; a mode of questioning and coercion. I can also see its role in technology consultancy, as the construction of narratives, where products, interactions, people and politics open up new markets and directions for a client. But I think people have missed its most productive position; that of DF as a pedagogic practice.

I’m fully located in the ‘all design is fiction’ camp, so I’m not a big fan of nomenclature and niche land grabs. Design as a practice never exists in the here and now. Whether a week, month, year or decade away, designers produce propositions for a world that is yet to exist. Every decision we make is for a world and set of conditions that are yet to be, we are a contingent practice that operates at the boundaries of reality. What’s different is the temporality, possibility and practicality of the fictions that we write."
pedagogy  designfiction  teaching  learning  education  mattward  temporality  imagination  speculation  design  fiction  future  futures  designresearch  designcriticism  darkmatter  designeducation  reality  prototyping  ideology  behavior  responsibility  consequences  possibility  making  thinking  experimentation  tension  fear  love  loss  ideation  storytelling  narrative  howwelearn  howweteach  2013 
july 2013 by robertogreco
‘The Matt Ward Manoeuvre’ (part 1) « SB129
"Over self-awareness and the weight of a poor school education are the main factors that stop people making the most of their drawing. We are constantly told what a ‘good’ and ‘correct’ drawing is, with these preconceptions we miss the true power of drawing; the intimate link between mind, eye and hand and its effervescent ability to stimulate invention. Striping back preoccupations of ‘reality’ representation and the need to build confidence in order to allow the mind and hand to meander are two of the main challenges in drawing education.

Ideational drawing is always ‘in action’, it happens in real time and therefore the focus needs to be on the moments it provokes not the product that results. Ideational drawing sets up a thinking space, where ideas can be spatialised, connected and tested. By locating ideas in a visual form on the space of a page, you can see new relationships and opportunities."

[Part 2: http://sb129.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/exercises-in-drawing/ ]
howwethink  thinking  communication  practice  intertextuality  jackschulze  mattjones  berglondon  berg  doing  learning  ideation  design  self-awareness  drawing  2012  mattward 
september 2012 by robertogreco
On Performance « SB129
"Performance has always played an important role in design… The communication of a project – be it in front of a client, a peer group, conference audience or general public, requires a level of performance. How the story behind a project is constructed and told makes an enormous difference to its reception. I’ve always encouraged my students to embrace the performative nature of project crits and presentations. If you design, direct, practice and perform your presentations you’ll go far…

If we abstract the ‘script’ from the object and focus purely on the social interaction, we have something close to the work of Tino Sehgal…

This is where performance comes into it’s own, it acts like a mirror to the actions, relationships and events that make up our daily lives. It gives us the necessary distance to examine, reflect and understand what we do and why… surely a useful activity for design and designers."
relationships  infa-ordinary  georgesperec  tommarriot  larissaseilern  socialchange  performing  movement  martinturner  matthouse  practice  teaching  education  art  theseassociations  objects  madelineakrich  performingtoknow  reflection  crits  sharing  performativeturns  constructedsituations  context  storytelling  communication  presentations  tinosehgal  design  performance  2012  mattward 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Manifesto - DWFE
"Design and the Living Dead

Design is no longer design.

Design has been claimed as a tool for commercial gain.

We are in a period where profit is more important than people.

Design is part of the problem; it offers few solutions.

Commodity therapy cannot be the answer.

We aim to create artefacts, systems and material cultures that explore the emptiness of contemporary living.

Our work searches for meaning in the construction of the extra-ordinary.

Our activities, actions and experiences reconfigure our relationships to our habitual surroundings.

We make therapy for the over-consumed, experientially paralysed.

We are not part of the commercial mechanism.

We are in touch with humanity.

We are alive."
emptiness  materialism  commercialgain  mattward  humanity  capitalism  consumerism  manifesto  manifestos  criticism  design  dwfe 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Maps of our lives « SB129
"as your child gets older, you become aware that they should be exploring & pushing boundaries. That their spatial freedom in some way equals mental freedom – the unseen, unsupervised allows for growth & development.

As Chabon wonderfully describes, in adolesence it is the ‘wilderness’, those part of the landscape – either rural, suburban or urban – that are derelict, abandoned & free from adult management, that allow for a space of the imagination. A landscape of performance and play, where scenes of adventure and misbehavior are acted out, where new worlds are constructed and occupied, where rules are made by kids and the adults are the enemy. It is in these spaces where we grow and foster our creative imaginations.

As we enter young adulthood our spatial boundaries dramatically increase, we move away from home, travel on our own & explore the places of our future lives. In fact, I would go as far as saying you’re identity becomes defined by the scope of your spatial experiences."
cartography  personalcartographies  blankways  location  locativemedia  spatialpractice  discovery  tomloois  identity  spatialexistence  thresholds  boundaries  exploration  parenting  adolescence  adolescents  childhood  manhoodforamateurs  michaelchabon  2012  spatialexperience  experience  mapping  maps  mattward 
september 2012 by robertogreco
DWFE Green=Boom
"DWFE is an experimental design syndicate producing projects that look at how artefacts, systems and material culture can offer some degree of relief from the emptiness of contemporary living. Their work is a search for meaning in the construction of the extra-ordinary; they design activities, actions and incidents that reconfigure people’s relationships to their habitual environments. DWFE aim to create experiences that operate on an emotional level: to stimulate, excite and invigorate.
--------------------------------------------
DWFE is Jimmy Loizeau, Laura Potter, Matt Ward and Nic Hughes"
experiences  meaning  meaningmaking  glvo  studio  rca  ux  london  criticaldesign  research  design  laurapotter  jimmyloizeau  nichughes  mattward  dwfe 
september 2012 by robertogreco
The importance of not knowing: reflections of a designer tutor « SB129
"1. Teaching is really difficult…

2. Learning is all about the process, not the product…

3. Reflection has different temporalities… Real-time… Postmortem… Meta-level analysis…

4. Sparking imagination…

5. Research into teaching… How does your own intellectual drive become apparent to your students…

6. Debunking complexity…

7. Contextualisation…

…of ideas… …of their learning…

8. Humor / Humility…

9. Visual stimulation…

10. Good timing… in terms of when to introduce certain ideas…[and] the pace and length of each session…

11. Organisation and communication…

12. Shifting pace, flipping roles, experimenting…

13. Let them lead way…

14. Never patronise, never underestimate…

15. If you’re not learning from your students, you’re probably doing something wrong…

16. It’s all about mediating/encouraging curiosity…

17. It’s all about questions, not answers

Never pretend to know everything, ask more questions that you give answers…"
goldsmithscollege  2012  mattward  pedagogy  superiority  socraticmethod  questioning  mediating  mediation  students  communication  organization  timing  listening  stimulation  humor  humility  curiosity  complexity  contextualization  context  imagination  tcsnmy  reflection  product  process  learning  howweteach  education  design  canon  cv  teaching 
september 2012 by robertogreco
The Church of Assisted Belief - DWFE
"DWFE propose the formation of The Church of Assisted Belief (C of AB) as a way to offer non-believers the chance to explore an experience that is currently allied with organised religion. Neuroscientists have set out to uncover a possible neurological basis for religious belief. Their experiments have explored the idea that feelings associated with religious convictions have a physiological foundation, and they have attempted to replicate such feelings within a controlled environment."
michaelpresinger  neuroscience  religion  mattward  design  art  belief  dwfe 
september 2012 by robertogreco

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