This is a follow up to my previous post: The death of graphic design.
The emerging question was “can creativity be taught” and if so, are people in design schools actually doing it wrong ?
We felt that maybe the decreasing quality in design production those past years may be due to a lack of proper education in the design field. I ain’t no teacher and do not wish to judge how people do their teaching. Plus, coming from a fine art (with a spe. in graphic design) background, I’ve got a pretty centered view of the design education field.
Teachers, as well as students, have a very different view of what should be taught during the school years and maybe none is good enough. Maybe it’s a mix of different influences that’ll end up making a proper “design education”. As for teaching creativity, I feel that it digs out the never ending question about skills and determinism: are your born creative or do you become a creative person over time? I guess it’s a set of tricky questions, and couldn’t help but fumble with it for the past week… the more I thought about it, the more it became clear that there’s no evident answer to that.
Can creativity be taught?
As a matter of fact, there’s a pretty simple answer to this one. Yes.
Creativity, as “being able to produce ideas and concepts on demand”, can be taught. You can teach people methods to produce ideas. You can train a brain to think about concepts. you can even teach someone to execute a task properly in order to make that idea happen. What you can’t do, tho, is force them to have GOOD ideas. You can teach them to be creative, you can even teach them to be skilled, but I definitely believe that you can’t teach someone to be talented if he or she hasn’t a single sparkle of talent in there.
What’s wrong with the design education
So, in the end, what’s the problem with design schools? Why are they so wrong that the jury from the Festival de Chaumont decided there were no student work fine enough to be presented to the world?
In my opinion, it’s not only about the schools.
. There’re too many people who want to become a designer. Courses are overcrowded, schools are multiplying like mushrooms, and wannabe designers are everywhere. As I said, you can teach everything but talent, and as long as selection won’t be harder, the quality level won’t rise. There are almost twice as much untalented people out there seeking for work than there are really great designers.
. But plenty of them are not ready to work it out. I will not say that design schools are perfect. Most of them lacks some fundamentals, like teaching people about professional life, technical issues, or design thinking. Many teachers are outdated, or have lost the faith. But how many students actually involve themselves into school life? How many learn by themselves — something they’ll need to do further in life anyway?
What’s wrong is that the only thing than can’t be teached is the only thing that definitely is missing in the design landcape. People with a view. Ambition. Talent. It’s not that they are less than before. It’s just that they’re drowned in the mass, hidden behind the thousands other people in front of them that showcase their work. Of course, awesome people will still get noticed. But great people, whose work would have catched your eyes in the past, are buried under others, and don’t have space to bloom to their full potential. Employers are being more selective because they can afford it. As a result, the average designer pay range is lowering, unemployement is rising, and work quality is decreasing. Less schools, more selection, and more commitment from students would definitely help with that. Then only, thinking about what should be teached would be a real matter.