Summer 2006

The pantomime of design education

Letter from Christopher Brawn

In response to Stephen Heller’s ‘Me feral designer’ (Eye no. 57 vol. 15) I would like to say, as a college-educated designer, how jealous I am of the feral designer. How useful they are because they are self-educated, because they bypass the pantomime of education, identify gaps in their knowledge and fill them. They develop a hunger for information and don’t wait to be spoon-fed. They are also not limited by the knowledge of their tutors, who are often teaching because they are either too old, too precious or too institutionalised to practise.

I accuse education of failing the profession. They either teach experimental or conceptual work, which gives students an exalted opinion of their own ability and leaves them floundering when they have to design a straightforward leaflet. Or they receive dogmatic Modernist teaching which leaves them too afraid to break the grid. Moreover, design education has become a business that focuses on numbers through the door rather than quality of education. This is completely immoral now that the supply of students outstrips demand from industry, and the fact that most students leave college with huge student debts and little chance of employment.

Tolworth, Surrey

First published in Eye no. 60 vol. 15 2006


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