WHY I TEACH
I have a list. It gets added to every year; graduates from our program at DCAD about where
that student went to pursue an BFA and where they landed in their seeking employment within
the broad field of design. It is both an unscientific catalog of creative people that seek a bit of
advice after leaving our small program and young designers who maintain connections through social media like LinkedIn or Facebook.
Growing this list may seem an odd validation to the greater academic world but to me, it means some of the things I have learned over almost four decades as a working creative are still applicable to our students.
My goal: to make a worthwhile impression with future designers. If they decide to teach a class
or mentor a junior team member some day, they will remember teachers that pushed
–positively–for better results, thoughtful efforts and more empathy to their subject.
I work hard to see young designers
leave DCAD's small program to pursue a
Bachelor's degree in communication design,
seek work as an art director's assistant or
gain entry to the field via digital production work. I find mission, inspiration and validation
in the strong foundation that we provide.
These maintained connections through
the resources of social media
or good old fashioned email and really old fashioned stopping by the College speak to continued
and successful efforts of these graduates.
The students in our studio spaces want to craft
successful solutions to communication problems.
Beginning foundation year design majors seem to thrive by limiting the specific design brief
or criteria they need to follow, the range of solutions evolve and
manifest to more clear results.
What is always compelling is the broad variety
students apply in solving problems.
Some will empathize with the task and form
immediate connections to what is in front of
them. Others will need the details unpacked
with specific examples or verbalized with
My goals must accommodate a range: helping the quick-to-the-result artist
to slow down and consider things they may
have missed through prompting
the more deliberative personalities
that trait, build on it and see the value in their path!
A few hope to remain hidden behind their quiet
persona–they want to sort it out in more isolated
learning spaces. Through years of teaching I have noticed that a student who would pose questions
after class does not necessarily mean inattention.
It may mean they are working in class in their own way to get to that quiet place they thrive in outside of class! The student who
lingers with queries can and do send alert signals:
additional prompts and in–class interactions as needed or greater levels of responsibility can be handled.
Another thing I have realized from the years: input from
their cohort as help to form answers may be
how their process works… How I deliver the task as information–clear as it may be to some–will simply not be the case to all students. I stress this to them and prompt them to ask for help understanding my admittedly–and documented by our students–quirky and unconventional delivery style. We all need time in development
of anything new. As long as it is found and used