Saturday, 5 December 2009

Hot air

Teaching product design to my GCSE groups has been hard graft. It's a tough thing to get across. Lots of different skills and attributes that need to be tapped into at the right time to create new things. The students find it remarkably difficult to retain lessons on certain topics if they have to use those skills out of context. It's perhaps the hardest challenge. Equipping them with a toolkit of skills that they can use when required.

The subject exam is a six hour designing and making challenge with breaks for reflection and evaluation. As a department we need to provide inspirational products for the students to examine and handle. We also provide objects relating to the specific theme of the exam. The students are guided through the process with timed teacher comments. As six hour exams go its a lot of fun.

Anyway the evaluations the students make about their work generally cause me most concern when I'm marking them. The students answers are one part arrogant swagger and two parts clueless buffoon.

"My design is absolutely unique" is the most common perception.

Get you.

Another notable inclusion from the last round of exams was:

"There's no doubt my product will stand out. In the 1930's everything was dull, not much colour. Most things were black and white i.e tv's. The 'white skull' will sort that out."

I'm not sure what colour the "white skull" was going to be but I'm sure it would have blasted those crappy 1930's colours out of the water. Oh and be unique.

Some shocking things come up from time to time. I recently set a past exam paper question as homework. The question tested students knowledge of features of products by comparing an old hairdryer and a modern one. The first part of the question asked students to identify four features of the modern product that were different from its 1930's counterpart.

The second part of the question went as follows:

Explain why two of the features you have identified have made the modern hairdryer more successful compared to the old hairdryer.

A girl in my class answered:

Point 1- "when you need to go out and you wont your hair dry"
Explanation- "If you actually need to get somewhere a hot air balloon is a fairly impractical vehicle and it will only be as fast as the wind blows"

I'm not making this shit up.

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