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What is it like teaching design students- the shine them spotless attitude

I won’t act like a ‘know-it-all’ or a ‘been there done that’.  But I would say (if I may) I have what we call, an observe-and-deduce attitude! Like really a lot.  Sometimes unnecessary, but getting to the point.  In the past 7 months I have seen many an educator from each side of the teaching equilibrium. Having been on the other side of this equation up until recently it was a new change towards my thought process.

As a professional, there is the adage, ‘you learn as you go’- which more or less applies to any profession and obviously to a student’s life.  But how does this apply to the teacher trying to inculcate some sort of architectural and design knowledge into any student? Isn’t it like a fine line in unknowingly expressing your personal design thoughts or ideas through the student, rather than supporting, questioning and pushing them to move with their own conviction and thought process?

I do agree you can make them do the technical stuff, but there has got to be a distinction between being overbearing or over demanding; and nurturing the student to letting them be creative and come about with their own way of expression- both in their designs and through innovation.

It sometimes feels as if we are pushing ourselves on them, expecting nothing less than perfection, the designs that are the best and the sheets that are the most expressive.  Almost like trying to shine them spotless.  For instance like the Taj Mahal mud therapy, despite the age of the building we want it spotless, standing erect and remain a seven wonder for eternity.  Pretty much resonates with the history behind why it was built.  But are we ready to see the now-not-so-visible failures of the mud therapy.  Its repetitive and frequent use is bound to make the marble lose its original sheen.  Instead shouldn’t we make stricter regulation to prevent the very pollution causing it to dull with alarming speed?  If we can change the surrounds and the way we approach its conservation-maybe it would result in a longer more fulfilling life span for the Taj Mahal.

For most, you might have gotten the jest of the example.  If not here’s another one-like the Taj Mahal we have many a silver pieces handed down over generations in our families, which are thoroughly and I mean literally, rubbed spotless of all the age it has accumulated in its life span on every other occasion.  Using chemicals and powders advertised to shine them spotless, maybe it doesn’t look the same anymore like it did when dadi put in care towards letting it age yet shine it once every blue moon (read: Diwali).

It’s the same in design school.  Maybe as new generation teachers we are trying to rub ourselves (no pun intended, please!) too much on the students’ work, that slowly many of them are losing their shine or are unable to develop a personal knack to design problems.

Food for thought.

Disclaimer: Just my personal thoughts, I had today.  It might change altogether tomorrow.  After all I myself am now part of this unending educating mission.

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