–Engage

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

Design guild studios?

You may have noticed that I’ve been thinking about education lately. I do like teaching, but often wish both for myself and my students that education and practice were as purposefully integrated for design as education and research is for other academic disciplines.

So I posited the following tweet:
“Wishing there was a way to scale the gild’s apprenticeship model of education to today’s realities.
Twitter for iPhone • 3/6/11 4:08 PM”

Then was about to tweet the following:
– studios “hire students who work for free for near 4 years or until their skills and craft progress to when they are ready.
– they then convert to apprentices either in the same studio or move on to a new one (like doing undergrad in 1 institution and then moving on to a new school for law, medicine or business) for another 6 years
– after 10 years of practice-based education they are ready to open their own studio or help expand their master’s studio.
– rinse, wash, repeat

Can this scale?

Are there current masters who own (or have authority over) their studio who would want to do this?

Are their students of design willing to take the risks of by-passing the accreditation system? Think of the tuition savings?

Is there a current pedagogical institution that can create this sort of system to make it more palatable to parents?

What do you think?

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  • Concerned

    It’s kind of terrifying, especially considering that you are a “professor,” that you think education = job training.

  • dave

    Hiya,
    I appreciate your criticism. And there are a lot of things being given up. I can even articulate quite a few. I am inherently a self-critical person, so I write ings like this to challenge myself & those around me instead of assuming that what exists is what is necessary to continue existing. I.e. I’m a huge fan of the exercise of re-inventing the wheel, or more importantly giving up on it & instead work towards flying cars or even teleportation or even non-travel.

    So ignoring the scare quote on my title as professor, and the unconstructive criticism w/o offering why or what, I’ll do your job for you.

    The biggest thing that would be missing for me in this plan is not research issues. We can continue to offer design education as a research & knowledge building agenda, hopefully w/ cooperation from apprentice studios. What concerns me more is where formal education does succeed, which is in general education topics that make for the 1st 2 yrs of most student’s lives in the design education world (from what I have seen):
    – language arts (including foreign languages)
    – math, logic & philosophy
    – social sciences (though in the practical these work in studio life)
    – sciences (physics)

    The next piece is around the experience of college itself:
    It is social, political, and life educational in & of itself. Though having met many who missed this experience & knowing that in most of the world these experiences don’t always exist the sane way, I’m not as strong an advocate for this as I was in the past.

    Next is just personal exploration, towards self discovery. Having a large area of studies yo experience was vital for my own path, so I totally respect this need.

    I wonder if replacing the 1st 2 years w/ an AA (2nd degree) might aid in a host of these experiences & requirements.

    Then there are other major pieces in the comment above that I know I’m not addressing directly. I still am looking at this as how to make a better designer. Is that vocational? Are there certain types of educational topics/disciplines whose primary requirement is vocation? I’m not suggesting this for everyone & maybe that wasn’t clear in my original post. I assumed that people would read this and know I’m almost always talking about design.

    Is there anything in my environment as a teacher now that I couldn’t w/ effort replicate in the studio? I’m still ambivalent. I’d be interested in the research project trying. Is this sorta what schools like AC4D and CIID already doing, in some small ways? Doesn’t this in some way compare to “Teaching Hospitals” where 3rd & 4th yr med students do rotations & then become residents & finally attendings?

    Just musings to inspire & conspire.

  • http://davemalouf.com/ Dave malouf

    Hiya,
    I appreciate your criticism. And there are a lot of things being given up. I can even articulate quite a few. I am inherently a self-critical person, so I write ings like this to challenge myself & those around me instead of assuming that what exists is what is necessary to continue existing. I.e. I’m a huge fan of the exercise of re-inventing the wheel, or more importantly giving up on it & instead work towards flying cars or even teleportation or even non-travel.

    So ignoring the scare quote on my title as professor, and the unconstructive criticism w/o offering why or what, I’ll do your job for you.

    The biggest thing that would be missing for me in this plan is not research issues. We can continue to offer design education as a research & knowledge building agenda, hopefully w/ cooperation from apprentice studios. What concerns me more is where formal education does succeed, which is in general education topics that make for the 1st 2 yrs of most student’s lives in the design education world (from what I have seen):
    – language arts (including foreign languages)
    – math, logic & philosophy
    – social sciences (though in the practical these work in studio life)
    – sciences (physics)

    The next piece is around the experience of college itself:
    It is social, political, and life educational in & of itself. Though having met many who missed this experience & knowing that in most of the world these experiences don’t always exist the sane way, I’m not as strong an advocate for this as I was in the past.

    Next is just personal exploration, towards self discovery. Having a large area of studies you experience was vital for my own path, so I totally respect this need.

    I wonder if replacing the 1st 2 years w/ an AA (2-year degree) might aid in a host of these experiences & requirements.

    Then there are other major pieces in the comment above that I know I’m not addressing directly. I still am looking at this as how to make a better designer. Is that vocational? Are there certain types of educational topics/disciplines whose primary requirement is vocation? I’m not suggesting this for everyone & maybe that wasn’t clear in my original post. I assumed that people would read this and know I’m almost always talking about design.

    Is there anything in my environment as a teacher now that I couldn’t w/ effort replicate in the studio? I’m still ambivalent. I’d be interested in the research project trying. Is this sorta what schools like AC4D and CIID already doing, in some small ways? Doesn’t this in some way compare to “Teaching Hospitals” where 3rd & 4th yr med students do rotations & then become residents & finally attendings?

    Just musings to inspire & conspire.

  • sav-scad

    It’s actually a little disturbing to think this way, especially being a part of an educational institution. One of the purposes of education is to prepare students with the thinking and skills who can cope later with the changes in industry, and not themselves being an outdated snapshot of the industry.

  • http://davemalouf.com/ Dave malouf

    I’m not sure how “thinking” skills get missed in an apprenticeship model. I think you are making an assumption that I’m not having. Also if you look below I do mention I have ambivalence around this issue.

    What is clear to me is that current models do not work. Can they work in formal institutionalized settings supplemented by internships and coops? Maybe. But again, I’m not so sure. Not being sure about something is what I believe makes me a solid educator regardless of where I work or teach.

    But the basic assumption that
    a) apprenticeships can’t teach thinking skills
    b) that apprenticeships lead to students who are not adaptable to change

    Does not map for me against the observations I have made of peers who did not take the formal education route and instead dove in with mentorship and self-discipline. The latter option I’m not even asking for.

    So I’ll ask for clarity and a further detail of your perspective.
    What “thinking skills” do you think can’t be achieved in an apprenticeship setting? Please do read my own comment below where I talk about a few issues that *I* see as issues as well and even a way to wrangle them.

    In the end, as we have moved from bits to bytes and not from bytes to bits, current models of education do need to change to map against the needs of our students now and into the future. I was wondering how you see to meet the needs of our current world and do you see that core structures like accreditation, and current financial models continue to work long term?

    What’s interesting is that I’m actually trying to solve the problems of “thinking skills” from the design perspective.

    Also, since it is clear you want to be related to “sav-scad” or are calling me out, I’d love a less anonymous way to address you so I know who I’m communicating with. Thanx!

    — dave

  • http://twitter.com/lauriekalmanson lauriekalmanson

    the big thought here feels like seth godin’s riffs on spending time with him vs mba school

    the finer points i’d suggest looking into: combining meaningful and paid work with school; a semester or a summer at a time — making internships less random and more like apprenticeships, but paid: the inequities posed by unpaid work are the opposite of opening the field to the most interested and most talented.

  • http://twitter.com/nuritps Nurit Peres

    Not sure if I understand, are you offering apprenticeship on top of education or instead? because at least here there are a few professions that requires a training period after education is completed (1y for lawyers, 4y psychologist, a few for MD’s etc.).
    It does require a certain system to guide and review it…

  • http://davemalouf.com/ Dave malouf

    I’m going both ways w/ it. I’m thinking about it either as a replacement for formal institutional edu, or as something that would be appended on what we call in the US an Associates Degree of 2 years (as opposed to leading to any formal bachelor’s degree).

    Again, I’m quite ambivalent, and just processing, exploring and engaging.

  • http://davemalouf.com/ Dave malouf

    Yes, Godin’s post is something I’ve been thinking about.

    On the “paid/unpaid” front, If this is indeed a replacement for formal tuition-based EDU and would in the end be saving people money as they wouldn’t be paying tuition for a service. This isn’t about having worker bees for free though, but about organizations taking on teaching. I realize there is a slippery slope and I’m open to orgs paying for students for sure if the economics works out.

  • Anonymous

    I love this idea, but as you point out, the biggest issue would be convincing parents that it’s good. People are so set on the idea of traditional University, that even trades are getting a bad rap.

    Bruce Mau Design here in Toronto tried something like this, but I think there were a number of flaws. They partnered with a local college’s design program to offer a post-grad one year certificate program. Students would spend the year working in Mau’s studio on real projects.. however, they paid $10,000 to do it. That made it feel very dishonest.. why would I pay you to do work that you would profit from? That program has since separated from Mau and is operating solely out of the college now.

    The idea of doing apprenticeships, rather than co-ops or internships, is an important distinction. Being an intern does not put any pressure on the host organization to act as a teacher.. however “apprentice” does, since it implied there will be a master.

    Something like this could work very well for design if done in partnership with a design school.. students could still take classes, but on a part time basis.. or alternate semesters as some co-op programs do.

    We (Normative Design) have done a few projects with a local design school and included students on our team. It’s been a valuable exchange on both sides. The students learn from working designers, we learn how to be better teachers and get some new ideas/perspective. This augments their traditional education, rather than replacing it. However, it is a very small program, so far we’ve only had two students.

    I’d also like to address the fear in some of the other comments.. I’m not sure why you’re afraid and/or angry about this idea. Anonymous posting in this type of discourse helps no one, and makes it very difficult to understand where you’re coming from. Instead of being scared of new approaches, thing about how they could benefit and work with your existing institutions. There’s a common brainstorming method called “Yes, and…” where you have to build on top of the preceding idea instead of dismissing it, maybe we should try that.

    As Dave points out, there are areas where current design education is underserving its students. Why fight against new ideas that might fill those gaps?

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