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Design Education for GEN Y

Over more than two decades back when I made a choice of joining design school over medicines, there were hardly any choices. In fact from childhood I had believed and knew (like almost half of my generation) that I wanted to be a doctor. Creative stuff happened on the side, it was just one of those crazy things which my parents allowed me to do, not such a common behavior in my growing up days for parents to demonstrate.

The nightmare of good grades and more grades, unending notes, sleepless nights of studies with friends without friends started when we moved to grade XII. I was a science group student and my day started at just before 4:00 a.m. but never seemed to end. Running between college, tutorials, and study groups at friends’ places was taking its toll and I had started to lose the zest of striving to clear my 12th grade leave alone getting into medicine. Friends asked me one day to join them in visiting National Institute of Design Ahmedabad (city of Mahatma Gandhi) just to have a look. They had heard NID took you in even if you just passed grade 12th. A real promising option considering the robotic life we were leading.

I visited NID, fell in love with the place and the romance the pace of life created there. I applied and cleared and here I was finally a student of NID. Well cutting my story short it has been an amazing journey so far and I have not regretted being a Designer. Being there, I realized that creativity is not just a “hobby” which you explore as extracurricular activity but an essential an integral part of who we are, for some like craftsmen it is their entire life, culture and identity.

Design taught me things beyond design; I learnt to unlearn all my conditioned social thought process, in a good way. I also learnt that there were a whole lot of jobs, huge industry and scope for amazing growth for creative people like myself. I was actually doing something which I thoroughly enjoyed and felt motivated doing. I learnt to discover, create, imagine and contribute to everything and everybody around me in the most possible creative and effective way. I learnt to re-Design myself.

At edutainment on Saturday, I was one of the panelists. It was amazing to see so many options for students not only in fashion, communication or product but beyond.  Parents were as keen and receptive to know about each course as students themselves were. They were keener to know about the course content and faculty then what kind of “foreign “affiliations the institute had or what salary they will earn after graduation, this indeed is a big shift in mindset of students and parents. This shift is recent.

When Pearl Academy was launched in Mumbai two years back, Almost all parents and students had questions and concerns about accreditations, validations, affiliations, and added value additions like “foreign study trips” but now students reckon the brand with quality, not only quality of education delivered but also the content and continuous development of the students once they are out working or starting their own businesses.

With number of students interested in creative courses growing every day we need more design schools, good designs schools. My alma mater NID gave me possibly one of the best design educations anyone can ask for and I am proud to be an alumnus of the same. My faculty injected this “design virus” which is incurable and keeps asking for more and more inspiration to feed on, it helps me grow everyday as a creative professional; A happy professional.

I see very good potential with some of the new creative courses offered at not only established Design schools like NID, NIFT, Pearl, Srishti but also at some of the new upcoming design schools. We do not know what we are preparing our students for, as today most of the global economy is shifting shape, and Industry is redefining itself. We will soon be in a world we do not recognize any more, hopefully in a good way. Thus to focus on which industry our graduates will get jobs into should be last of our worries, the focus needs to be on how to let them be prepared with the best process of innovation so they can adapt to any world, any industry and any new skill sets.

At Pearl Academy Delhi for last few years I have been involved in researching on understanding this very process of innovation and have realized that students have changed, the generation we have as our students is very different from any before, infact unique. There have been a few findings which I would like to share with all my readers.

  1. This genre of student is beyond the linear approach to education where the second step comes after the first one only.
  2. The design learning might start with one domain but normally by the time they are into final year or working professionals they have already spread their wings into many more, this poses a question-are we design schools equipped to teach such transitional approach.
  3. These genres of students also understand skills differently from what any generations before them did. For them pencil is as good a tool as digital pen is, what they find restricting is most of the course tools are built around the skill sets of the tutor and not what students can achieve.
  4. I do not find any lack of interest or motivation in students but the disinterest is possibly due to the learning modalities used by most of the faculty.
  5. We still have jury, exams, assessments etc. which are completely devoid of any student contribution; the one that is learning is not involved in any process of being an assessor but is always only the receiver of the feedback?
  6. In their world where sensory experience is as virtual as physical we do not have the tools to teach both experiences across all disciplines and domains of design.

I have stated my findings and would request my readers to not take any personal offence. This weekend was very educating for me as I interacted with students, different professionals, experts and faculty from various design schools. It dawned upon me that we do not live in “that time zone” any more where only a few went in for creative courses, today number has grown many folds which means the intake of students at Design schools must increase or we should have more design schools in India. Quantity does not always mean compromise in quality, it is just the way we handle it. I feel disillusioned to see a student being rejected because he or she could not clear an entrance exam; I have seen many who were rejected become some of the most successful creative professionals.

I do not doubt the intention of the selection process most of the design schools have but I feel with changing genre of students we need to change these. There is more to a student’s creativity than a few questions judging his/her psychological thought process, skill sets and knowledge. We need to evaluate students’ creative quotient through new and varied tools which will help us in realizing that there is a large number with right potential out there than ever before who should be part of design schools, in design schools.

Signing off.
Jyoti Manral

 

Last Updated - 03 May 2016

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