WHY I Taught
I have a list. It got added to every year about graduates from our program at DCAD: where
that student went to pursue an BFA and where they landed in their seeking employment within
the broad field of design. It was an unscientific catalog of creative people. They asked for a bit of advice after leaving our small program. The young designers maintained connections through social media like LinkedIn or Facebook.
Growing this list seemed an odd validation to the greater academic world but to me, it meant some of the things I learned over almost four decades as a working creative were–and are–still applicable to our students.
My goal was to make a worthwhile impression with future designers. If they ever 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 worked hard to see young designers
leave DCAD's small program to pursue a
Bachelor's degree in communication design. To
seek work as an art director's assistant or
gain entry to the field via digital production work. I found mission, inspiration and validation
in the strong foundation that we provided.
These maintained connections through
the resources of social media
or good old fashioned email and really old-fashioned stopping by the College was validation to continued
and successful efforts by those graduates.
The students in our studio spaces wanted to craft
successful solutions to communication problems.
Beginning foundation year design majors seemed to thrive by limiting the specific design brief
or criteria they need to follow, the range of solutions evolved to more clear results.
What was always compelling were the broad variety
students apply in solving problems.
Some empathized with the task to form
immediate connections to what was in front of
them. Others needed the details unpacked
with specific examples or verbalized with
My goals had to accommodate that 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 hoped to remain hidden behind their quiet
persona–they sorted it out in more isolated
learning spaces. Through years of teaching I have noticed that a student who would pose questions
after class didn't necessarily mean inattention.
It may have meant they were working in class in their own way to get to that quiet place to thrive outside of class! The student who
lingers with queries did send alert signals:
additional prompts and in–class interactions were needed to get them to greater levels of handled responsibility.
Another thing I have realized from those 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 stressed this to them, prompting to ask for understanding my admittedly–and documented by our students–quirky and unconventional delivery style. We all need time in development
of anything new.