Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Education and Design


Jewellery and Metal Work Design

Education is the process of learning new information, experiences and emotions concerning all aspects of our lives. It starts from the initial moment we are born and lasts all throughout our entire existence. Painter (2009) emphasises:

“During a considerable period in his life, man is helpless and ignorant; he is without the strength and knowledge necessary to maintain an independent existence. It is this fact, that renders education a necessity.”

Education is an ongoing process all living creatures take part in; no one can escape it as it is a natural progression in understanding of the World that we live in, the society we are part of and the greater philosophy behind life in general. Education is one of the most basic human rights. It is a compulsory part of growing up and it is essential in forming our personalities, characters, skills, values and knowledge.

The history of education stars at the very beginning of our civilisation and it is continued, transformed and adapted to the changing times regularly. It is corresponding with all major historical events and it is shaped by the ongoing expansion of the society. Starting in the ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome education has made its way into our day to day lives and created numerous chapters, several for each country and continent depending on their level of development. Gordon and Szreter (1989) highlight:

“Educational history presents numerous points of contact with the whole current of the history of humanity and human interests, and necessarily develops a broad outlook.”

In the preliterate civilisations education was passed on verbally or through mural paintings. It was passed on from one generation to the other but soon after that, this system was classified as insufficient and a new way of sharing information was created – writing. Along with this development, new ways of teaching emerged and education was transferred into specific institutions in the ancient times. Unfortunately, it was only accessible to the rich members of the society who believed that solely boys should be educated, discriminating girls and taking away their chance of gaining a better understanding of the World. This approach changed drastically after the Reformation period during the European Renaissance as Gordon (2009) brings to our attention:

"The call for a universal education and literacy are two fundamental effects of this period on education as we know it today."

From then on education was recommended for both sexes, although the differentiation between female and male students was still appallingly visible. Furthermore, education was practically fully coordinated by the clergy and sponsored by the churches which often did not result in the best outcomes for the poorest students. Following that many European governments started founding of basic and primary education as it was believed that literacy and general knowledge helped in creating a new kind of citizen with full respect for the state’s laws.

In the present times education is one of the most fundamental pillars our society is based on. It is essential for all individuals to further their education to the best of their abilities in order to enhance the development of our culture. Education could be divided into separate institutions where it takes place at: Primary, Secondary and Higher/Further. Each one of these subdivides into more specific groups which are very different from one another at many levels.

The connection between education and design is
indisputable and it is almost impossible to think of one without mentioning the other. Education shapes and influences design development and all the same design helps to form new teaching/learning methods and makes us imagine innovative ways of approaching educational techniques. The most important aspects of these disciplines combined are developing new, exciting and effective techniques in teaching design and other subjects at different levels of education. Eastman (2001) makes a very important point:

“The need for innovative designers has never been stronger. Industrial organisations and institutions of higher education alike recognise that as society advances design problems increase in complexity”.

The links between the two specialities are growing stronger minute by minute as the latest researches prove the effectiveness of design techniques applied in education. A valuable example to illustrate this is the use of visual techniques such as art and colour therapy, which originated from design related fields, into the teaching methods of special needs pupils in primary and secondary educational institutions. Rubin (1999) states:

“I am convinced that it is the synergistic potency of the combination of art with therapy which accounts for the extremely rapid growth of this still-young field.”

Another important part of the union of education and design is the use of new technologies in primary and secondary institutions. The relationship between new designs and the ways of teaching traditional subjects is ever changing which opens many possibilities for new designer to enhance the learning experience of often bored and unhappy students. Mixing new technologies can transform learning into an unforgettable experience and maximise the teaching results for both educators and pupils. Moreover, there is a vast amount of inspiration of be found in the actual process of learning design and teaching design. It is a very innovative and controversial subject which could potentially suggest an alternative approach toward educating in general as Eastman (2001) implies:

“Strong links are yet to be forged between pedagogical theory regarding design learning and the science of design itself.”

Design has the potential to change the facade of education for good; it has the means to employ fresh, ‘outside the box’ ideas to all types of education: primary, secondary and higher. Looking into educational systems from a creative thinking perspective enables designers to generate solutions for existing as well as potential teaching problems. Educators and designers working together have the potential of improving the two disciplines by sharing their experiences and developing innovative explanations into the existing programme. A collaboration of education and design could be the future to a more efficient, exiting and valuable teaching and learning experience.


Gordon A. M., Browne K. W., (2007) Beginnings & Beyond: Foundations in Early Childhood `

Gordon P.,
Szreter R., (1989), History of Education: The Making of a Discipline, Oxon, Routledge

Eastman, C. M.,
McCracken, W. M., Newstetter, W. C., (2001), Design Knowing and Learning: Cognition in Design Education, Oxford, Elsevier Health Sciences

Verzelius, Newton, (2009), A History of Education, Danvers, General Books LLC

Rubin, J. A., (1999), Art therapy: An Introduction,
Lillington, Psychology Press

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