Four old men discuss design education

I fucking loved this show.

I fucking loved this show.

Do you Twitter?

I've been a fan of the platform for some time. I registered in 2008 and remember at the time, how much it reinvigorated my interest in technology, and specifically the internet.

Having seen the web whittled down to a graveyard for digital brochures by numskull marketing people who knew fuck-all about communicating, and even less about how to use this amazing new technology, I was pleasantly surprised when the web I loved, birthed Twitter and YouTube within the same two-three year period in the mid-2000s.

As a side note, read The Cluetrain Manifesto (2001) for a glimpse at how some clever people envisioned the connectivity and conversations that this true web would allow.

Anyhow. I wake up one morning last week to see one of my favourite people within our Australian design community begin his day with a simple comment:

This comment began a thriving conversation that morning between a small group of design professionals I'm lucky to know and enjoy good company with.

Flynn Tracy, Nick Hallam, Chris Doyle and I exchanged ideas, provocations and debated the finer points of mentoring on a platform that enabled the industry we were discussing to have full view.

I embed relevant parts of the conversation here for you - and I'll continue after the fold.

And it went on .... Jump on Twitter via any of the embeds above to read it all.

I particularly like Flyn's final response. 🙂

Design education for me is a topic I feel quite passionate about. I didn't complete a Design degree. The universities I applied to didn't think my submission/application was up to standard and never offered me a place in their courses.

The irony of being asked to do guest lectures many years later, isn't lost on me.

I studied Art and Design at TAFE and then went on to do an Advertising degree at university which taught me I didn't want to work in the advertising industry. I started a Masters but opted out half way through.

That world simply wasn't for me.

I'm a Designer at heart, albeit one that is entrepreneurial and I embrace the digital world we live in. I won't chase technology but I'll pay attention to how, and why we use it in our lives.

In my opinion, mentorship is the best education anyone can receive towards becoming a creative leader. Tools can be self taught but great creativity, great design, communication and creative leadership is best learned from those that have experienced it.

Those who have have tried and failed - and those that have at times succeeded.

I've learned so much from an hour spent over food and coffee with a colleague than I have from academia. 

I've learned so much from sharing my own thoughts and experiences than I have from reading a text book.

Now, I'm not saying I didn't learn 'anything' from academia. I've just learned 'more' from mentors than I have from it. This is simply my own experience — yours might differ.

Saying that — I'd be very happy for the next person who responds to a job advertised in my business to list their mentors on their CV.

Actually I'd love it if this was the norm on all CVs.

(I just stopped typing and spent 10minutes updating my CV).

My opinion though matters little in this conversation - as do Flyn's, Chris' and Nick's. It's an opinion and that's all it really is.

What struck me most was that this conversation was actually happening at all. That a small group of experienced professionals were willing to share this conversation publicly. 

This I found to be the more profound part of the conversation.

What I witnessed was leadership of an industry debate an issue that simply isn't debated at all. 

Academia (read: University and Tertiary education) is a business. Albeit, it's a business with limited capacity to cater for students due to resources, capability and funding restraints which means that some students miss out on a spot.

(Please don't play the 'we want to accept the best so we can place the best designers in the industry' card with me. 

We both know it's much more complex than that now, don't we? 😉 🎻 🎻 )

Our industry is made up of a - excuse the cliche - tapestry of people with a wealth of experience that can easily be shared with anyone who wants to be a Designer.

Our industry is filled with potential mentors.

This, I believe is the best form of education for people who aspire to become leaders within our industry. 

Mentorship. Guidance. Advice. Learning through failure and applied resilience. Learning from someone who has tried, failed and at times succeeded.

I admit I've never looked at where an applicant has studied or worked. It matters very little to me if it's UTS, Swinburne, Harvard or RMIT.  This studio or that studio. 

You're welcome to email my employees at hello@ if you don't believe me.

My interest is heightened when I see that someone has had a host of mentors that have taught them a healthy balance of strategic thinking and creativity — balanced with a practical, humble and respectful view of the world they live in.

This is the best form of design education.