J David Deal | Teaching Philosophy
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Teaching Philosophy

My goal as a teacher is to prepare design students for a profession that is constantly evolving, as technology provides more avenues for the distribution of information. In this changing environment, a designer must learn to think conceptually, adapt intellectually, design effectively and communicate both visually and verbally. Students with these skills will help shape the visual culture for their generation.

I feel that teaching with the perspective of an experienced graphic designer is a different interaction between student and teacher than say, a traditional teacher presenting information to be learned. A graphic design student must learn the rules, then break them and present them in such a way that makes that student viable in the creative marketplace.

A successful design education starts with the fundamentals. We should build a foundation of design theory, critical thinking and technical proficiency. This would include involvement in the fine arts to further enhance aesthetic development. During this early preparation, we need to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each student so that we can help in enhancing their talents while further developing any skill sets that may be deficient.

When teaching advanced-level graphic design, the traditional classroom should be transformed into a cooperative learning environment. In this setting, students would not only compete but also share design principles and technical knowledge, critiquing each other’s work as well as their own. This cooperation develops skills needed to be productive in a successful studio environment. It is also valuable to establish real-world connections to the classroom. This would be accomplished through contact with national and regional professional organizations as well professionals working all areas of design and other artistic disciplines.

Finally, it is important for students to study and understand the history of graphic design as well as other design disciplines. Understanding an historical and cultural context helps students better comprehend the concepts, inspirations and visual applications of the work being studied. As Milton Glaser paraphrased, “We all stand on the shoulders of all those who have come before us.” Students must have knowledge and insight of what has been previously presented into the culture in order for them to expand and refine their own creative vision. Helping students appreciate their potential and gain the skills and instincts to turn a talented interest into a lifelong career, is something I am well prepared to do.