Fantasy Design in Community- a didactic perspective.



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Project Overview
Fantasy Design in Community in a didactic view.
By national coordinator Henrik Bak ,University College Sealand. 
It is a fact that our world is changing fast and constantly.This demands special abilities from people living under these circumstances.Especially children and young people who a growing up in this world have to develop skills and knowledge which makes it possible for them as human beings to handle these challenges. Constantly they have to be able to construct their own world and their relations to this world .To live a life in permanent re-construction and re-designing.
People who represents the trades and industries are fully aware of this and ask for students who are able to
1) think independently, 2  act alternatively ,3) express themselves and 4) co-operate
In the Fantasy Design in Community –project these 4 elements are basics .
The work with design automatically invites the teachers to deal with these  challenges in education and we find it very important that the teachers are using these parameters in the work with the design subject.
At the same time it is also important to underline that this is not an attempt to press a tight didactical straitjacket over the teacher and the design project. To quote the Nobel prize winner Dario Fo who -at a workshop I was visiting- said:”In theater there is only one rule, which is: there are no rules!! “ and afterwards he presented rules and traditions for several days…. In a way the same could be said about working with Fantasy Design.
The students have to develop their own and original projects but at the same time it is  necessary basis for this to involve the framework  and the traditions you find it in the professional world of design.
What is important for the students also goes for the teachers: It is important that the teachers creates their own projects and in this way experience ownership to the project. Still at the same time this is in a paradoxical way connected with the use of well known practice and experience building upon a long tradition af constructivistic learning processes relating to theories of Dewey, Vygotsky, Freinet and others.
A way to describe this didactical tradition in practice is the 7 step-model[1] which –as the title indicate-describes the teaching process in 7 steps.
Step 1:Sense opener
This is where the student are presented for the idea and you can compare this step with the start of a film.This step is very important in order to get full concentration, motivation and open mind from the students and of course therefore the teacher has to prepare this first step very carefully.
Step 2.Knowledge and theory.
In this step facts,theories and knowledge about the subject is presented and the task is subject for communication. Also it is recommended to get out of the classroom and visit institutions, trades and industries ,museums,galleries, craftsmen and designers in the community.
Step 3:Knowledge and skills
The knowledge and theories are applied in reality and skills are added. Here practice is introduced Skills are trained and materials researched.
Step 4 .Communication and synthesizing.
The learners communicate and reflect on the previous steps and preflect on the next ones.
This is the step which involves synthesizing[2] and communication.
Step 5.Production.
This step of course is the main part of the project. This is where the students individually or in groups experiments and innovates. Even if it is individual projects in this part of the problem a lot of communication and mutual inspiration are going amongst the students and between the teacher and/or the designer and the children.
In relation to the 5 phases of the design process as they are presented on the website www.fantasydesign.org The first 4 steps(step 1-2-3-4) of the 7-step model are included in phase 1:RESEARCH.
In this step 5 you have phase 2:IDEAS/SKETCHING , phase 3:SELECTING THE BEST IDEA and phase
4:TESTING AND PROTOTYPING included.
Phase 5 PRESENTING THE FINAL RESULT is identical with:
Step 6.Presentation
The presentation is –as the senseopener – a decisive step and very important.
This is where the children experience that they are taken serious by the surroundings .This is also where the children are “mirroring” themselves in their own project and each others projects and this is where the link with the community is once more established.
Step 7.Evaluation
This part is also important as it is here the experiences are collected and presented and this is from here new projects and ideas can be established.
Once more it is important for me to underline that this model is thought as a help,a form to be used when preparing your own fantasy design projects. In some projects you might skip one step and in other projects you will change the row or step up and down between the steps for a while. But generally more or less you will be able to see this structure in many Fantasy Design projects.
To give some examples
“A package for your dream”,Billedskolen I Tvillingehallen may2010
designers Lise Urwald/Hexe Karen Udsen
Step 1:senseopener
Visit to The Arts and Crafts Museum,Copenhagen with introduction by Rikke Rosenberg.
Step 2 Knowledge and theory
Presentation of different kind of boxes by Lise Urwald.
What characterizes the boxes?What are the purpose?What different material are they made of and why?Do the boxes tell stories? What are your experiences with boxes?
It is important to have an interesting and varied collection of boxes in order to make it interesting for the children.
 Step 3:Knowledge and skills
The children are presented to the technique of folding paper into a simple box using a prepared sketch as model.In this way material and technique is presented.Everybody manage to do this,some of course easier and faster than others.They naturally turn into assistants.
Also in this step a fundamental element in the designproces was presented:the use of a manual and a model!!
Step 4 .Communication and synthesizing.
In this project this step was where the task was given: Each child should write down her or his dream for the future .
The children presented their dreams to the designers and each other and were after a short introduction to the working method ready to start.
Step 5 Production
By forcing the children to combine an abstract vision: a dream with a well known and practical item: a package the creativity of the children is challenged. They must present new ideas and cannot use stereotypes. Also in the production the children are experiencing the design-process by following the traditional route for design: sketching, models, description, prototypes, description of working process and making a manual.
Step 6: Presentation
The models and the sketches were presented at two exhibitions in the public room:at The Museum of Arts and Crafts, Copenhagen and at University College Sealand, Haslev.
Step 7: Evaluation
In relation to the package one more task was given to those children who had fulfilled their packages. The task was to draw presenting the route the child should make in order to go from the actual position to the realization of the dream.
And of course all children joined a common evaluation at the end of the process talking about their experiences during the process and about the design process.
One of the teachers Lea Sjøholm participating in the package project continued as a result of the evaluation with a new design project at her own school Holbergskolen, Copenhagen.The title of the project was:”Design a better everyday and a short description of the process in 7 steps would be like this:
step 1:senseopener:
Inspiration and sense:
How has designers improved our everyday?
·      
step 2:  Knowledge and theory
Researching the market. 
 
step 3 :Knowledge and skills
developing ideas + sketching+ super vising by teacher and further research.
·      
 step 4:Communication and synthesizing.
presentation of ideas, sketches for the rest of the group.
·      
 step 5: production
·       Final sketching and descriptions of the design.
From 2D to 3D: models in paper  
Final model in cardboard.
If possible make a real prototype. 
      
 step.6 presentation:
Exhibition in the hall of the school and at the Fantasy Design in Community website.
 
step 7:evaluation
 
Conclusion.
 
The work with Fantasy Design in Community can be carried through on all levels of an educational system .In schools it offers a lot of possibilities  especially in relation to interdisciplinary activities. Many subjects are involved: History, Social science, Mathematics, Language, Science, Biology, Geography, Ecology, Physical activities, Arts and Crafts a.o.
 
The work with design involves inter social and intra social competences and is at the same time training the children in goal-directed working processes. Creative work as interpersonal relations has a relation to language use and thus to language competence. This aspect is often not focused in school seen as a reproductional institution. Along with language the narrative perspective of Fantasy Design in Community are a basic quality allowing the children to focus on existential aspects on time and room in their own life. The narrative is especially connected with the “stories” the children link to their projects
Education in Fantasy Design in Community and its focus on the surrounding world highlights experience of objects, proportions, size, shape, function, material, quality etc. which is connected to subject knowledge in Arts ,Crafts and Design and in an elaborated sense to democratic competence connected to public room, trade and industries and environment.
Working with Fantasy Design in Community develops the democratic and interpersonal competence in the social learning in the design process, which includes negotiation and high lightning of the zone of proximal development according to pedagogical researcher Vygotsky.
It is important to underline again and again that Fantasy Design is a an open concept not connected to one method. Instead it is multi-methodological and multidisciplinary. The project is not a strict product orientated teaching project having a specific narrow form as goal, but much more a process-orientated concept accepting the ideas and suggestions from the children. One- sided focusing on ideas of quality, aesthetics and function in Fantasy Design education may deprive children from ownership of their project, confirmation and identity. However one-sided process-orientation may diminish the content and meaning of the project to the children. To work with design, arts and crafts is to accept that  we are influenced by “products” and that “products” has to be taken serious.
A dialectic combination of process- and product-orientated didactic practice  accepting focus on both children and concepts seems to be a sensible starting point for educational work with Fantasy Design in Community .
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[1] See Bak,H , Kratsborn,W a.o.”Aesthetics make sense”CiCe 2005. and www.to-gather.org
 
[2] See Gardner,H ”Five minds for the future”
Members
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All works in Fantasy Design Gallery reflect the views only of the author, and the project cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.