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Job:05-11998/12412 Title:RP-Design School Con dential
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The Teachers Perspective
When asked to assess the goals and expec-
tations of their respective class projects, a dozen
design teachers all agreed (regardless of grade
or experience level) on three desired outcomes.
First, challenge the student: A project must of-
fer suffi cient variables and serendipity that
students can test their skills and talents and,
in the fi nal analysis, surprise both their teacher
and themselves. Second, inform the student: A
project must also provide enough unanswered
questions that students are learning something
new by doing something new. Third, elevate
the student: A project can propel students in
two opposing directions—either through suc-
cess or failure. While the former is obvious, the
latter way might seem perplexing. Often, how-
ever, only through failure can a student get the
best critique and truly absorb the right lessons.
Although failure will not produce a great port-
folio piece, it can have a longer-term infl uence.
Challenge, inform, and elevate are the building
blocks of a solid education, and to achieve this
mix requires a selfl ess devotion on the part of
the teacher and an intense willingness to learn
Anatomy of
a Successful
Section 1
on the part of the student. A good, or great, class
project can make the educative experience real.
Yet from a teacher’s perspective, there is a
further outcome: a uniquely absorbing project
that is talked about and anticipated over time,
becoming legendary among students and teach-
ers alike, and a veritable signature for that teacher.
Legendary class projects are perennial (they
never seem to become dated) because the pro-
cess and results are so enlightening. More than
a few storied projects from some well-known
design instructors have garnered such status. In
the 1960s, for example, Milton Glaser and Henry
Wolf had students in their School of Visual Arts
publication class produce an entire magazine
of their choosing, and while this may seem de
rigueur today, then it was a novel approach to
teaching publication design by making the
students editors as well. The project fostered
community while highlighting the strengths (and,
of course, the weaknesses) of the participants.
A project of this kind becomes celebrated
because, like any essential resource of knowl-
edge or experience, it triggers expectations in
the student and in the teacher. It is as though
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