Design Education – The Next Creative Generation

May 8, 2013

May 8, 2013


Estimated Reading Time 7 Minutes

Are you born with a creative mindset or is it taught?

In 2012 we heard that the government was strongly considering the removal of design-related subjects from the school curriculum with the introduction of the new EBacc. The concern was that at its very worst this could result in the death of UK creative industries, which currently employ around 2 million people.

A talk entitled ‘The Next Creative Generation’ at Cheltenham Design Festival addressed this topic and encouraged debate amongst attendees, all of whom are engaged in some kind of way in the UK creative world. Speaking at this talk were Sir Christopher Frayling – Professor at RCA, Tim Lindsay – CEO of D&AD and Adrian Shaughnessy – writer for Eye, Creative Review and Design Observer (Chair) – three extremely passionate and inspirational personalities.

Sir Christopher Frayling kicked off the discussion by sharing a piece of personal memorabilia from his school days – a woven square, which he has kept since he made it at school. He used this to demonstrate how design work can provide a sense of achievement, recounting the tale of the creation of the square, and sharing his belief that other subjects within school struggled to replicate that sense of achievement without a real physical outcome.

For me design always encouraged freedom of thought and the ability to create.

At school I struggled to concentrate in “academic” lessons, but found my passion in creating art from collections of shells or splurges of colour. The freedom to create was magical but most importantly encouraged! My art teachers were full of passion for what they did and genuinely enjoyed sharing the art and design love. This is the key to why design as a subject is special – it’s infectious and fun! I believe schools have a responsibility to grow the personalities of children and encourage their individualism.

This is what art and design does. The report on Higher Education written by Lord Browne focusses heavily on the importance of Science and Engineering as the core of the education curriculum. Design is not treated with this importance. The talk highlighted the ongoing battle that people working in the creative sector have to prove that their industry is worthy.

A large part of this battle is due to how design is taught in schools. In 1988 design became a mandatory subject, later became a core subject and now is only an option. Quite often the choice to study design is frowned up as it is wrongly perceived as an easy option as opposed to science or mathematics for example.

The battle is ongoing. ‘Have you had a hard day drawing pictures?’ If design is removed from the education system it will have such a negative impact on children’s imaginations, creative thinking and the curiosity to not just accept the given but question it, will be taken away. I believe that if I had not has design taught in early years I would not have become the person I am today.

The freedom of thought is a such huge positive and creative thinking should be encouraged.

Are born with a creative mindset or are you taught it? I think everyone is born with the ability to think and learn creatively but it is whether you nurture and encourage this mindset. I don’t necessarily think that the quality is taught and I believe its not a choice that you can make either.

If you respond well to creative thinking it is then your choice to realise this and teach yourself more about design. If schools didn’t teach design then maybe it is this realisation that wouldn’t be discovered and everybody would have the same academic learning brain.

A blog post from Fiona Plews, a member of our design team.