Design Students Cannot think? part 1

From Milk to Solid Food

The possibility of a student’s conversion into adulthood is inevitable in the natural psychosocial development process. The individual grow and experience various aspects of life, acquiring experiences in areas defined by their wants and needs in a holistic manner. Humanity as it seems are defining their goals as they go along a path towards their designated goals and objectives, whether as an individual or corporate as a nation or groups. In the field of Design, conversion takes place as a transition of thought patterns and perception. Ideas are born based on the needs to create and to improve the quality of life.

 The young person who has been experiencing life for their first eighteen years, has acquired enough information to realise that what they have acquired is not yet their achievement. In this age, the very word success has been redefined and the same can be made about the word failure. Much of these are based on different approaches to educating the young about effort to succeed or perhaps progress in specific areas based on differently able individuals.

However, in our society, in which artistic maturity is still in its infancy, the average design student would primarily want to ‘make money’. Why is that? Many have asked this question especially design educators. Can art and design students express themselves? This article isn’t about students’ expressing themselves but rather a thought about how can Design students grow up in the area of design exploration.

Babies are born and they go through a long process of growing up. The same can be said about thought patterns. The thinking of our students is like old tape recorders, which plays the same tune day in and day out. Primary and secondary school education delivery has greatly contributed to this. Much stress and emphasis on studying and scoring exam papers, furthermore to produce much-anticipated ‘A’ grade for SPM/’O’ Levels for example. Unfortunately this culture has seeped into the art and design field thus greatly diminishing the quality of analytical and critical thinking among the young.

Students’ have been greatly dependent on their teacher’s guidance on just about anything due to fulfilling appropriate and correct standards strictly enforced from time to time. Students’ have no room for mistakes and mistakes are often viewed as illegitimate ideas or in other words, ‘wrong’. It can be agreeable that mathematical and factual data has dimensional element in which one cannot dispute its logical conclusions. However, when it comes to conceptual thinking, subjectivity must be also allowed for the student to ask questions freely without fear of ridicule. Ridicule here means, ‘asking a silly question’.

Teachers had the habit to labeling legitimate questions as stupid, silly and of no use. Unfortunately for some students, these labels fall directly on them. Teachers habitually place value on subjective answers too quickly which resulted in students struggle to achieve the correct standards set by their educators. Negative or positive reinforcement methods to create efficient students have also produced result-oriented students. Therefore this result-oriented culture has not actually contributed to the development of this country. Very few have realized the potential of their acquired knowledge. Most have achieved higher qualification because they were primarily directed to fiscal revenue.

In the field of design, students are encouraged to think out of the box. This means, changing their thought patterns, which they have been used to, all these years. By changing or re-arranging their way of thinking, they are redefining success and what changing or re-arranging their way of thinking, can be considered as a solution. Students in the art and design field actually have the power to redefine the quality of life, not to make life better but to make life worth it. These converts their thoughts from thinking like babies, which needs milk, into creative thinking adults whom consume meat or solid food.

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