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Which clippings match 'European League Of Institutes Of The Arts' keyword pg.1 of 1
04 OCTOBER 2013

Meredith Davis: A Call to Action for Design Educators

"I believe that design education, at the most fundamental level, views complexity as a problem to be overcome through reductivist artifacts, not as an inevitable and pervasive attribute of life in the post–industrial community. So if the future is about an ever–expanding web of connectedness, how are we preparing students for meaningful work in this complex world? I'd like to suggest that we're not. Despite the obvious emotional impact of Glaser's poster, he belongs to a generation in which the goal of design was to make things simple. Negroponte, on the other hand, is a technologist for whom the design goal is to render the complex manageable and to make complicated things meaningful.

Almost everything about today's graphic design education is matched to Glaser's worldview. We structure both curricula and projects in craft–based progressions from simple to complex, from the abstract to the contextualized. In typography classes, for example, we begin with the letter, and then advance to the word, sentence, paragraph, and page. Sequences of typography courses are built on this simple to complex progression, when opening InDesign demands that students address the formal and interpretive issues of publication design simultaneously; how do you defer a discussion of leading, of column width, of the modernist preconceptions of software, of language? The only option is default, and what kind of typographic lesson is that?

The reality is that our strategy for teaching typography is residue from how students could comp type in predigital times; by drawing. It is the organizational structure for every type book since James Craig's 1970 Designing with Type, but it holds less relevance for what students need to know about communication in a digital world. Typography today is a complex relational system that depends on the interplay of formal, technological, linguistic, and cultural variables. Yet we persist in teaching this progression of scale, isolating such variables within their own distinct conceptual frameworks and rules.

The same strategy exists for how students progress in other studies of form. Foundation lessons begin with abstraction: point, line, and plane; color wheels; and paper–folding exercises. We defer discussions of meaning and context until later levels of the curriculum and beginning students learn these abstraction principles only through patterns in what makes their teachers smile. Nothing about these studies resembles what students know about in the real world, and as a colleague recently suggested, what the clients of design see in our work. So what if we begin with the familiar and complex?"

(Meredith Davis, 4 April 2008, AIGA Boston Presentation)

Presentation made at W/Here: Contesting Knowledge in the 21st Century, Emily Carr University of Art+Design, Vancouver, Canada, 7–9 December 2011.


Simon Perkins
11 OCTOBER 2009

Practice-led research in Higher Arts Education

"For intelligent professional practice it is therefore better when theory is linked with practice. Already for years active experimentation has been carried out in forms of lessons in which theory and practice are linked to each other and which mutually stimulate each other. The sociology teacher helps the documentary photographer in his field research. The semiotics teacher helps the student in his reflection on designs in terms of the production of meaning. The art history teacher helps the illustrator to place his work in an art–historical perspective. Furthermore, reflection is the examination of a particular process, reflexion (the process of reflexivity) is the mutual reflection of theory in practice and of practice in theory."

(Anke Coumans, 2002)



2002 • Anke Coumans • arts educationBologna Processcontemporary arteducation • ELIA • European League of Institutes of the Artsfield researchfine art • fine art and design • Hogeschool voor de Kunsten • Netherlandsparadox • practice in theory • practice-ledpractice-led researchprofessional practice • reflexion • reflexivityresearchsemiotics • theory in practice • Utrechtvisual art academicsvisual arts


Simon Perkins

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