Why Should Students Study Design in School?

Interview with Ria Millington (Design Teacher) and XCL World Academy students, 13 January 2021

Studying design has many benefits to it. Students have the opportunity to make anything they want and express their creativity. Design steps out of the regular school boundaries and diverts from the everyday learning, lectures and memorisation. In design, you learn what makes you unique, learn to step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. Students should study design not only for the subject itself, but the impact it has on them as a person and how it prepares them for the real world. It also gives them a broader major choice for university.

Why should design thinking be taught in schools? The design encourages and helps to grow the ability to problem-solve. It teaches real-life skills and real-life products. Students get to learn about different materials. The design also helps build skills such as research, analysis, critical thinking and evaluation.

How can you push each class project further into the real world? Where possible, we try to make real-world connections to learning. For example, in Grade 8, students explore the country/culture of a classmate and create a book about it. In Grade 10, students explore the importance of shelter for target groups such as the homeless, people fleeing from a natural disaster, refugees, and people with a disability. They design a shelter suitable for the needs of one of these groups. They research to explore how these people are affected by these situations.

What is the best thing about the design technology class? Design at Diploma Level is a fantastic subject. It allows students to choose a more creative pathway leading to a range of careers, including becoming an architect, product designer, fashion designer, and Jeweler amongst many others. For the first time, students are challenged to take on the core knowledge behind design theories and are encouraged to apply this through small IA’s. They recognise problems and design their own unique solutions in Grade 12 as part of their major project.

Do Primary and Kindergarten students come to the design centre? Primary students often come into the design lab to take a look at some of the machinery as it relates to their units. They are often full of questions and curiosity about the equipment and our display of technology through history.

Do we offer an ECA related to design? What is it, and what do students do? There are multiple ECAs offered in relation to design. Recently, there has been a 3D sketch-up, and we have started a sewing club.

Please share one of the most memorable experiences while teaching Design at XCL World Academy? It is difficult to identify only one experience, but most recently, I had a student say to me that I have inspired them to become a Design teacher. I found this very touching and have spent time speaking with them about possible University choices.

How do you ensure the safety of the students? Student safety is our priority. Before students enter the lab, we complete an annual risk assessment of every tool and piece of equipment. Safety equipment is on display and students are instructed on how to use it. Students are not allowed to operate any hazardous machinery without teacher supervision. There are also emergency stop buttons in place, so if an incident were to occur, all types of machinery in the lab stop immediately.

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