Design as another Pillar of Education?


Jon Freach of Frog Design states a case for design to be the third pillar of education, following science and humanities;

Students often traced their inhibitions back to childhood when they first grew conscious of their teacher and peers’ judgment. One student vividly recalled what it was like to have a teacher title his drawing for him to avoid inevitable confusion from grown-ups. His “making trauma” was intensified when he was in fourth grade and one of his paintings mistakenly got put into a first grad art show. He didn’t win.

This condition is even more widespread the higher you go up the corporate ladder. At frog, we often engage our clients in visually creative exercises to tap their knowledge about a domain and strengthen our partnership in the design process. But, in three different collaborative work sessions that I’ve facilitated with clients in the past year, I’ve been told outright at the beginning: “I’m not good at this, so don’t expect much.”

In a 1979 research project at the Royal College of Art, Professor Bruce Archer referred to design as the missing “third area” of education; the first two areas were considered the sciences and the humanities. Later, in a small book, Designerly Ways of Knowing, educator Nigel Cross made a formal case for the addition of design to our general education, namely the K-12 curriculum. But, he was careful to point out the tricky nature of such a proposition. Cross argued that design, as an area of study, suffered from a legacy of being a technical vocation, where one is “trained” to be a designer, often through an apprenticeship of some sort. Its aims are extrinsic, meaning a student is equipped to perform in a specific social role such as an architect capable of competently designing a building. But general education, in addition to being non-technical, consists of intrinsic goals which contribute to an individual’s self-realization and basic life skills. For instance, many of us learned the principles of math and use them to pay our taxes, but didn’t become mathematicians. And, we read Shakespeare to learn about comedies and tragedies and the use of language, but didn’t become playwrights.

Very interesting. If we could redesign the way we educate ourselves to be better learners, the possibilities of learning will be immense. 

Read the full article here


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