A Critical Reflection

Coming into ChangeAAA, I really had no idea what to expect, or what I even expected from it. Perhaps that is testament to Liam’s ability to write an enticing summary of the subject as it seemed the most interesting of all the Studies choices. Or it was just the fact that it was titled Change. However, it quickly became more relevantly interesting to me as it was presented as less of a practical application of design skills or specifically design-related thinking, and instead as more of a means for personal change that would in turn influence our design-related thinking. In a sense I sort of felt like the entire class was or would become some sort of esoteric thought experiment, and that was fascinating to me. Since the end of high school I’ve been trying to drive into myself a motivation, I guess, to change myself in small but beneficial ways, if at least in my opinion. In this way from the beginning the class appealed to me, while the AAA part was admittedly of much less concern.

The first few weeks were a bit of a wall already. I’ve never really been interested in using Twitter, and while I blogged, it was more as stream-of-consciousness pertaining to whatever was on my mind at the time, rather than something that was consistently directly relatable to some core values (in this case, the ideas of design advocacy, activism and agency), so it was all quite a new experience to me and rather jarring and difficult to truly adjust to, which I suppose was the point of it – it was meant to throw us out of our comfort zone, and it did. It was a bit of an eye-opener, too. Being someone who saw hash tags as utterly useless things, to see there is truly a worthwhile use for them, and one that has been rather obvious to see for a long time, I found that in at least a small way I had to re-evaluate what I thought about methods for learning and communicating, but just as old, bad habits are hard to kill, so new habits are hard to ritualise and I found myself struggling to keep up with the tweet-blog quota. I wouldn’t say that is a strike against their usefulness, though, but rather I just didn’t employ them to their fullest potential.

Eventually, covering social equity for the poster-frieze project was a bit of a brain strain for me too, as something that’s really not taken point for thought in my mind, especially considering the scope of the field of concern. However as a group we managed to piece things together and help each other out, and pulled through in completing the poster. Everyone was happy to admit what they were good and bad at, and we were able to delegate roles to complete the project to an overall higher standard than if we had sort of just split the workload 1, 2, 3 – it was less “you do this”, and more “I can do this”, which I think is great. You feel more like you’re doing work you enjoy, and overall it made the project feel less like a chore, even if I had to stay up late to finish it all off. While less a course-specific thing and more just a by-product of my group’s modus operandi, this was nonetheless a beneficial experience.

Overall though, I feel the main thing I got from the introductory first few weeks which was elaborated upon throughout the rest of the semester, is to build into myself a sort of autonomy – to be proactive rather than reactive, to use what resources are available to me to educate myself and not just wait to be told what to do. I must admit it is, rather disappointingly, a bit counter-intuitive after my high school education. One of my bigger complaints about high school and VCE regarded how we were essentially taught to wait and listen to learn, and to study and just remember what we needed in order to get the grades we wanted – we weren’t really taught to think for ourselves in that sense and propel or pursue our learning outside of what was given to us. Perhaps this wasn’t the case for everyone, but that’s how it felt to me. I didn’t learn how to speak. I learned how to regurgitate. Especially for a field like industrial design, design thinking requires more forward thinking, and not just taking what is given but nurturing and growing these things in our own time and our own way, and for a while now you could say I’ve had thoughts like fruits ripening in my mind but not the words or the means to words to pick them from their vines. I forget Liam’s introductory paragraph now but I recall something like.. we would “gain the vocabulary for change.” I’d say my ‘vocabulary’ has expanded.

Following the course I think the most important thing will be to continue to think about what I’ve learned from it and apply this proactive attitude to my coursework and my learning in general. Also not to consider the obvious factors in the design, but to try and note everyone involved (such as when we were working on Actor Network Theory), that the design and the product are relevant to more than just the consumer. There’s more to it than what comes out at the end, more than what makes it off the manufacturing line.

Certainly, there’s more in my head now than what there was going into the class, and hopefully now the means to design things that are worthwhile, or at the least truly considerate. Although, the thought that “sustainability is impossible.” – that in particular will stick for a while yet.

 – Anthony Martin S3381331

Edit: Actually, I’m sort of curious where this class will go next semester. If it continues, will the next class be inaugurated via Twitter also? Will more students populate the ChangeAAA hash tag, where they can access what we put in and compound more into it? Or was it all in the end a sort of experiment, or just the means for teaching as it was seen fit?

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