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Pedagogy Introductory Studies page 4

 
 

Students measured each visual decision against problem objectives using the stated criteria. To do a single exercise, students might make hundreds of decisions. The process resulted in self-learning, training the eye and better understanding the principles and objectives of that particular exercise. Color decisions became increasingly sophisticated and the nuances finely delineated as the course progressed and the eye became more disciplined.

Albers divided the subject of Color into increments, with each represented by one or several exercises. Once the principles and criteria were established through doing exercises, Albers then assigned free studies. Students set their own objectives and formats and applied the principles they had learned.

I believe all the necessary clues to successful instruction in basic design are contained within Albers' approach to teaching color: dividing the exercise into related increments with limited objectives and materials; having clear criteria and one exercise reinforcing the next, incorporating an extensive process of exploration or decision-making. It is mandatory to work abstractly so as to better focus on space and form. All of these conditions and requirements can be applied to other facets of design, theoretical or practical.


Basic Studies in Graphic Design
Although in recent years the computer has become a primary tool within Graphic Design education and professional practice, I believe first-year education should be restricted to hand-generated imagery. My experience is that values and skills are more readily assimilated through traditional practices than doing class assignments on the computer. An exception might be a technical course where students learn the computer and explore its range of capabilities. Hand-generated letterforms are taught the first year, and my inclination would be to introduce the computer to students for production purposes with typography in the second year.

Education for Graphic Design students is divided into several broad areas which should be properly sequenced to include perceptual studies, conceptual development and professional practices. The latter should include technical information related to production processes and equipment. There is also an important part of professionalism associated with the use of tools and craft, and that which sharpens the eye and develops skills.

Because of weak Art foundation courses, most Graphic Design programs are forced to use the first year in the major to provide students with a design foundation. This takes away precious time from professional studies, but it is necessary. There are a few design programs that enroll students in the first year. Because of the poor quality of most foundation programs, this option is desirable and justifiable for most Graphic Design programs.

The majority of students come into Graphic Design believing they will be doing posters, identity marks and advertising. Theoretical studies tend to be a shocking experience for students. Because they do not understand abstract theory or critical criteria, they seldom know what they are trying to achieve. This is evidenced when students come to the teacher and say, "Is this what you want? They resent having to do work over and over again. They feel teachers are being unnecessarily picky about skills and craft, and students are highly vulnerable to becoming frustrated in these circumstances.

   
 

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