“We dislike this whole notion of giving students a taste of ‘the real world’, as we simply don’t believe there is such a thing as ‘the real world’. The world is for students to shape, not to adept to. Or at least, that is how we think it should be.”
Experimental Jetset on design education
“Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything - it might come in handy later.”
From Sister Corita Kent’s 10 Rules for Students, populized by John Cage.
“The teacher’s job, really, is to fascinate the student. Fascination is the key to learning. Then help the student put the fascination into action.”
“Some of the most talented and prolific people I know have dozens of interests and hobbies. When I ask them about this, the response is usually something like “I love to learn.” I think the new discoveries and joys of learning are the crux of this beginner thing I’ve been thinking about. Sure, when you’ve mastered something it’s valuable, but then part of your journey is over — you’ve arrived, and the trick is to find something you’ll always have a sense of wonder about.”

—Phillip Torrone, Zen and the Art of Making

It was hard to pull out one part to quote. You really must read the whole thing.

“If Kubrick and Malick ares masters, as no-one seems to tire of saying, what does that make us? Slaves? As I get older, the more easily bored I am of ‘mastery’, the more it seems a young man’s dream — young men, film directors and film critics. The rest of us, as we plod through life, realise just how little we are actually master of, how little we resemble master film directors and more those poor, distracted cattle, the actors.”

Tom Shone on Mastery. He goes on:

I don’t get out of bed in the morning, bark “action” and see my day whip itself into shape. I stumble out of bed, trying to remember my lines, hit my marks as best I can, only to find, six months down the line, that half my performance was not used, or that I’m actually appearing in a comedy not a tragedy as I thought.

I like this. Is becoming a master at our craft really the goal? I don’t think we want to be masters. We want to keep moving, perhaps stumbling, forward trying to figure out how to get better and make connections in everything we do.

This is a beautiful documentary on metal fabricator Neil Youngberg and is full of everything I’m about. This quote really stuck out for me, in particular:

I’m still learning and I always will be. That’s just how it is. That’s what makes you good at what you do. You want to learn more—how to be better or quicker. When you don’t learn, that’s when you have a problem. That’s when you’re through.

I love watching craftsmen like this talk about their craft. They are passionate about what they do and they know so much about what they do. And what’s really great about Mr. Youngberg is that he wants to pass on that knowledge. He wants to share what he knows of his craft. We need people like this—people working with their hands, people keeping dying crafts alive, and people who love what they do.

(Via visualarmory)

Sir Ken Robinson is a hero and an inspiration. This is his TED Talk from February of this year is once again fantastic. I give a lot of credit to Sir Robinson for inspiring me over a year ago to learn more about the science of creativity and how to better use it and I continue to be influenced by his speaking and books. After watching this one, I’d recommend going back and watching his first TED talk from 2006. Brilliant stuff.

His dry humor makes me laugh quite a bit too.

Where’s My Fire Breathing Dragon?

I really enjoyed this little gem from Frank Chimero’s class blog the other day:

When I was in school, my favorite professor was the fire-breathing dragon. Why? Because if you received a compliment, it was meaningful. The feedback was sincere and not sugar-coated, there wasn’t much coddling, but you can guarantee everything was helpful. The Fear of God he put in all of us made us all show up with significant work done between classes. If you came unprepared, or did very little between classes, you got “the speech.”

When I first starting in school, I simultaneously loved and feared critiques. I loved seeing everyone’s work. I loved talking about everyone else’s work and giving them ideas. I loved talking about my work and I loved hearing other people talk about their work. But I always knew the next critique would be the one where I’d get ripped apart. The next one would be the one where the professor would tell me to start over or that I have no future in design or my idea was crap. It was coming. It had to be.

But guess what? It still hasn’t happened. And I haven’t really seen it happen to anyone yet.

As I approach my final year of school, I’ve yet to have a fire-breathing dragon professor. I quickly discovered each critique was too sugar-coated. Everyone was afraid to be honest and hurt everyone else’s feelings. By the end of this year, I have come to dread critiques, no longer out of fear, but out of the boredom of getting nothing but “I like this” and “This is nice” comments. How does that help me improve my work? How does that make me a better designer?

I enjoyed reading this post for two reasons, the first of course from the perspective of a student and seeing the lack of honest, thoughtful criticism in the critiques I’ve had but also as someone who hopes to teach design in the future. I hope I can be the professor that students respect and fear because they not only know I’ll tell them where they are lacking, but also that I know what I’m talking about and that my comments are valuable. At least that’s the goal. Until then, I need to find my own fire-breathing dragon.

(And on a sidenote, I’ve absolutely love reading this blog Mr. Chimero is running for his class at Portland State. It’s great getting this look at how he organized and runs his class and seeing how the students respond and develop. As a student and professor hopeful, this blog has been quite enlightening.)