Friday, September 11, 2015

Worth Reading

Passing along a few good reads from the past couple of weeks.

1. Where Design, Engineering Meet (Harvard Gazette)Mohsen Mostafavi, dean and Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design at GSD, and Francis J. Doyle III, the John A. Paulson Dean and John A. and Elizabeth S. Armstrong Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences at SEAS, discussed the origins and goals of a new graduate degree program at Harvard.

The composition and diversity of each cohort is critical. If you go back to the engineering approach or design approach from decades ago, the disciplines existed in silos. If you’re in an engineering firm, you might bring in mechanical engineers for one piece of a project, chemical engineers for another piece, computer scientists for a different piece. They really were islands, and they had to put the pieces together, and that was often a very ad hoc process. Here, we’re breaking down boundaries. That’s not to say we’re creating jacks-of-all-trades, completely cross-trained individuals, but we are preparing individuals to take a multidisciplinary mindset into a project environment and work across fields. It’s not that we’re just adding four or five disciplines and getting whatever aggregate product would come from that. We are building teams that can be more innovative in how they cross boundaries and collaborate.

This is the future of how things will be done in the real world. Students are not getting plugged into traditional silos of very narrow expertise. They’re being forced to work on teams that require multiple skills. Diversity of thinking approaches, of backgrounds, of work experiences: All of these things will lend to the ultimate success of the program.
2. Five Critical Skills to Empower Learners In The Digital Age (Sung)Alan November, a former teacher turned lecturer, consultant and author, challenged teachers to rethink how they start the school year by outlining skills that are crucial to students to learn in the first five days of school.
“My goal is for them to become the truthmakers,” Wees said. “I’m trying to build a mathematical community where something is true when everyone agrees it’s true.” To do that, he asks students to talk through mathematical ideas, struggle with them and give one another feedback. “A major goal of math classrooms should be to develop people who look for evidence and try to prove that things are true or not true,” Wees said. “You can do that at any age”
The first job of a teacher is not to explain things clearly, it's to inspire students to want to learn. As Antoine de Saint-Exupery writes, "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."
5. Redesigning A Design Program:  How Carnegie Mellon University is Developing A Design Curricula for the 21st Century (Irwin)- the thought process and rationale for redesigning curricula for the Carnegie Mellon Design School is shared.
Design is ubiquitous- we live the majority of our lives in the designed or 'built' world, and design is connected to many of the large problems confronting society.  However, its very ubiquity gives it the potential to play a key role in the resolution of these same issues.  Design is inherently a problem-solving process and fundamental skills of the designer are the ability to look for meaningful problems, frame them within appropriate contexts, and design a process for developing and implementing a solution.
6.  To Get Into MIT's New Design Program, Students Must Score High On The 'Love Metric' (Thys)- explores the type of thinking and skills valued by the MIT Design School
“The analogy I use is that people learn instruments,” Kressy says as we talk in the big studio the students are occupying in MIT’s vintage Building N-52. “They learn to play violin and cello and tympani and bass and piano, and they become virtuosos in these sort of instruments. But when you take these people together and you make them play together, it’s a whole ‘nother ball game. All of sudden you have to respond to your fellow musicians.”
The task: build instruments from found materials. And boy did the students find materials. Mechanical engineer Maria Tafur, from Bogota, made a clarinet from a carrot.