Recently a student said to me, about his design work, ‘so I am doing this with my design work… do you like it? Are you happy?’ Which my reply was to question him as to why he was asking me that, in my opinion his creative design process and final collection has nothing to do with whether I like it or not. I see my position as a point support, guidance, advice and steering in a considered direction- not a point of telling the students what to specifically do with their design aesthetic. What do you think? How far do you go with input into the creativity of students projects?
I find some students are often very reliant on the lecturer or tutor figure, asking for reassurance upon everything, even very small. I have also been asked by one of my second year students how to sew a zip in a garment she designed, when I asked if she had sewn a zip into a garment before she described exactly how I would have told her to do it. The aspect that threw her was the fact it was in a different garment and placement than where she had sewed a zip into before.
I was having a conversation with my colleagues in a professional training session about ‘stretching and challenging’ students, and the result of not doing this. My answer to the discussion was it would therefore result in a lack of creativity in our learners. So how to instil autonomy and independence in our students? Now I am not suggesting we abandon the learners completely, there are certain points in projects and learning where specific teaching and guidance is needed. But those in their second year, with one term left of their course before they progress to university I would have hoped that more independence was instilled. Independence I feel is something that can be developed by opportunity to advance confidence.
As a lecturer what I do most often is to flip student questions around on them, to allow individuals to negotiate the problems themselves, and not allowing the easy way out of just asking for the answer. I often have students asking me how they will construct their garments, following the toile process. I study their drawings and 3D toile and question them for opinions, what do they think needs to be sew first? How would they add in their zips? What would be done last? How have they sewn their toile together? Do any seams need to happen first in order to create the neck or arm hole etc? I encourage students to experiment, sample and evaluate the pros, cons, strengths and weaknesses and I work heavily with individual action plan booklets for learners to negotiate their timekeeping and studio time.
Do you find individual rely on asking you for the answer? How do you improve independent thinking skills in your students? What I hope I am doing for my students is improving their thinking and problem solving abilities, so in the future they can come to these conclusions independently.