Teach

A series of blog posts created in the "design methodologies" module at ZHdK, teached by Dr. Joëlle Bitton.

What is teaching and what makes a good teacher? How should we educate people in order to support them in achieving their full potential?

Education and teaching may be two of the most important institutionalised things our culture ever came up with. Furthermore, I would even consider the educational system to be the most sustainable and important thing ever realised. Although I feel like the current system made a decent job in the past, I really feel the urge for it to transform itself in ordert to prepare the growing up’s of today adequately for a more complex future.

Following this statement, the question arises what it means to educate someone. For me education is directly linked to teaching, which I define as the act of imparting knowledge to someone. So what makes a good teacher then and when is knowledge imparted most effectively?

We hopefully all know this feeling of leaving a class, euphoric and inspired by what you just learned and energised to do something with it or further reflect upon it. You probably can’t expect every class of yours to be overwhelming and impressive, yet I believe those experiences to be essential and desirable in a good learning environment.
Consequently, a teacher really wants to be passionate about sharing knowledge and bringing the students further. It’s also not just about presenting content and providing information, but more about connecting the students to the content by showing them why it matters and how to make use of it. Thus, trying to meet your students needs and to empathise with them should be of interest.
It’s comparable to the user interface of a computer;  In order to enable people for truly accessing the information and working with it, the transmitter needs to translate it into the most efficient and engaging language imaginable.

I am aware that I attribute a great responsibility to teachers. But one must also recognise that education is our most powerful tool to prepare people for this life and I feel like that the educational system can’t keep up with the environmental changes we face.

A week ago, lecturer Karin Seiler stated in a design main lecture that design can do a lot. For example, it can provide solutions or offer alternatives. But she also said that design will not be able to save the world. I mean, I somehow got her point and it’s obviously that the godlike designer himself will not come and save the earth for us. But which world are we living in, where designers are meant to be educated for solution solving and innovative thinking but at the same time told that they will not be able to change the world???? What will other people think about the impact they have on this world?
I really believe this to be a huge problem of our education system as well. There are so many people willing to change something and put in work for it, which get discouraged by people like her. How do we expect the world to be changed for the good, if we tell everyone that they won’t be able to do anything about it?

Our world is so connected yet I fear the people to get disconnected from it more and more. We can’t expect all the people to be innovative thinkers and solution solvers but we should want to break down the complexity of our world to make it more accessible to all of us and provide a sense of clarity. Education should be about empowering people to achieve their fullest potential and not about trying to teach them things they can’t make sense of.

Readings

Ackermann, Edith K. 2016. “Learning to Code: What is it? What’s In It For The Kids?— A Tribute to Seymour Papert". Trans. version from publication in Tecnologie didattiche (TD 27-2002).

Moriwaki, Katherine & Brucker-Cohen, J. 2006. “Lessons from the scrapyard: creative uses of found materials within a workshop setting”. In AI & Society. 20:4. 506-525.

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