Academic journal article Visible Language

Learn from the Core Design from the Core

Academic journal article Visible Language

Learn from the Core Design from the Core

Article excerpt


The current objective, object-oriented approach to design is questioned along with design education viewed as a job-oriented endeavor. Instead relational knowledge and experience in a holistic sense, both tacit and explicit, are valued along with an appreciation of the unique character of the student. A new paradigm for design education is proposed that embraces collaboration and focuses on integration of study, experience and reflection that translates beyond design into an intelligent life.

EDUCATOR AND ACTIVIST, Parker Palmer claims:

We are being called upon into a more paradoxical wholeness of knowing by many voices. There is a new community of scholars in a variety of fields now who understand that genuine knowing comes out of a healthy dance between the objective and the subjective, between the analytic and the integrative, between the experimental and what I would call the receptive.1

In the same book, co-author Arthur Zajonc adds:

The curricula offered by our institutions of higher education have largely neglected this central, if profoundly difficult task of learning to love, which is also the task of learning to live in true peace and harmony with others and with nature.

These statements reflect the paradigm shiftfrom the mechanistic Cartesian worldview (the world as a collection of objects) to a holistic, ecological view of reality as a shiftin consciousness from objects to relationships. In this new perception of reality the properties of parts are not intrinsic properties, but can only be understood as merely a pattern in an inseparable, integrative and dynamic web of relationships. Realizing this shiftis central to all our perceptions, and therefore to our future of design as a field of practice, and most significantly, central to design education.

For education, this means nothing less than a call for total transformation: to establish an emancipating environment that facilitates a process that awakens the capacities of the whole person for all participants in that community: students, faculty and staff. As Wendell Berry declared in 1987:

The thing being made in a university is humanity ... (as) responsible heirs and members of human culture.2

This transformation requires attention to what the Dalai Lama calls "the secular ethics of the heart". . . . the stu! most educators tend to dismiss as being outside the territory of the course subject, while faculty declare that this is "not our business."

Education and design are now at this very threshold of change. They thrive on their interdependence, just as they have throughout their evolutions. I envision the respective fields to change significantly in the future-as they must if either is worth its salt regarding its contributions to the world and humanity's stewardship to its planet called home.

In 2003 the icograda education team was asked to respond to the question: What can education offer that will truly sustain students in life? As an invited contributor my response was, in a nutshell: students need a process that helps them cultivate their intelligence to become truly integrated individuals capable of dealing with life as a whole - as human beings foremost - and only then as designers. I view this nurturing of intelligence as the central task for educators, their primary purpose. That we happen to do this via design is useful, but secondary. For education this is at the heart of the word sustainability. For what ultimately sustains us only comes from our inner capacities that arise from the core or our heart of being-not from some external source or authority.

Contemporary western education, with its tradition so firmly established since Aristotle, is a system based on comparison and competition. Its main interest is to multiply knowledge and facts and to develop intellectual skills and clever minds. That system perpetuates materialism and fragmentation as the way to view the world, which only proliferates the current state of our world. …

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