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pokie's picture
1217 pencils

Well, well well...

Many years ago, I posted on here all the time... then IT at my work blocked the website (lol). Well, I quit last month (long story short, I finished a masters degree in communications last year and also started adjuncting for the design dept I graduated from with my BA about 10 years ago, then a communications professor reached out to me and asked me to teach some advertising classes). So, I quit my day job that I hated at a huge corporation (where I was in a leadership position) and am now a part-time professor teaching both graphic design and advertising design. I always wanted to teach, maybe when I retired, but with two elementary aged kids, our lives are so hectic, that it just made sense. I thought I'd pick something else up part time, but really, even though I only "work" 12 hours, I am just as busy as I was before with kid junk.

I am amazed at how students are so non-chalant about their design education. Last semester was a huge wake-up call to me. Everyone left early and barely showed up. So, this semester, I first changed my attendance policy so they would get letter grade reductions with every absence and I told my GD students on the first day: I expect you to be here the whole class period. You will be working 40+ hours when you get a job. If you cannot give me 6 hours a week, then you should not be majoring in this. Attendance has been a million times better this semester.

A lot of my designer friends who heard about my career change kept telling me "be hard on them, the teachers were too easy on us in school". With my history of being a supervisor, I treat my students in my GD class the same way. I have the same expectations of them as I would if they were my employee.

If you could give the next generation of designers advice, what would it be?

I also clearly need a new avatar, but thought I'd keep it for now incase I'd look familiar to anyone.;)

Commenting on this Forum topic will be automatically closed on April 14, 2013.

Art D. Rector's picture
3162 pencils

Welcome back, pokie. I remember the avatar, but the name doesn't sound familiar - have you changed it, maybe?

So far as your teaching experience? I think your friends might be leading you astray on this one. I went to 4 different colleges - I don't remember too many instructors being all that "easy" on us. I do remember it being very rare to spend 3 full hours in a lecture (and when it did happen - everyone was asleep by hour 2). But that's just human nature - the instructors didn't want to be there if they didn't need to be just like the students. I don't think the idea is to clock the time - the idea is to learn something. If that takes 15 minutes? Fine. If it takes 3 hours - that's fine too. But don't keep them sitting there 3 hours just because you can.

And attendance is important too - sure. But does an employer dock you pay for missing a day? Not in my experience. So why dock them a grade for missing a class (if you're trying to keep it real)? Seems a little petty and draconian to me. Your students are not your employees. In fact, just the opposite is true - you are employed by them. They hire you to teach them GD - not take attendance. Miss 3 or 4 days and then it becomes an issue with project completion and deadlines - so maybe then they lose a grade. But one class?

Bottom line... the instructors I appreciated were the ones who "kept it real". And by that I don't mean real like a job. I mean they treated us like adults. If you put it on the students themselves - I think you'd get a lot farther. Just tell them - you're adults... this isn't highschool. If you want to learn and have a career - you have to be here. You have to pay attention. Otherwise don't waste your time or their parent's money. THAT's the real problem in my experience. Too many college kids think they're still in highschool and attendance is mandatory (and your rules enforce that idea, btw). It's not. They don't have to be there. If they WANT to learn - stay - and put the effort in. If not - go work for minimum wage. THAT'S the incentive - a better life. Not a better grade.

As always... jmho. :)

pokie's picture
1217 pencils

I agree completely, it isn't all about the grade. And that's something I try to get across too. I do grade very hard because if they get an "A" on just anything, where is the incentive to get to the next level?

The problem with them not coming to class is that they literally do not work on their projects outside of class. So they turn in junk. I don't think that asking them to show up is too much to ask and I did have a person drop after I made that announcement (you can't give me 6hrs a week, change your major). At my last employer, more than 3 absences and you get written up. Last semester, I had people who missed at least 7 classes.

Should my students not be prepared for the real world? If they do not like graphic design enough to spend 6 hours doing it a week, are they going to like it any more after they graduate and set themselves up to spending 30+ years doing it? Are they even going to have a portfolio good enough to get a job? I would argue absolutely not. I am a very very very lenient instructor even though I expect a lot when I grade. I rarely ever lecture (the most I've ever talked at a time was when I went over the syllabus), I think you can learn more by doing and that's how my class is structured: they show up, I take attendance, we critique then we get back to work (they can break and come and go as they like after that). So, we move from project to project somewhat swiftly, critiquing and perfecting on the way so they have a good and varied portfolio.

I think I'd be doing them an injustice if I let them just work on something for a half hour and turn it in like my students did last semester (3 hr class and everyone left before we got 1.5hr in). Our class is 5.5 hours a week. And the fact of the matter is, the dept lets anyone in. You want to be a graphic designer? All you have to do is sign a paper to change your major. There are probably 50 that graduate just from our school a year and there are several colleges in this city that teach graphic design. Graphic Design postings are relatively rare here. They have no chance if they do not at least try. And honestly, I am not going to participate in more half-ass designers out in the world (know too many working as waiters and the like) so I try to "keep it real" by letting them know it's not a cake walk once they get into the real world.

Not being defensive, but trust me. I was the "meh" teacher last year about attendance and everything else. And it is also actually a requirement for me to keep attendance. I was floored by how non-chalant everyone was about their education. I don't think it's a coincidence that I have more participation during critiques and better work coming out of this class.

editted to add: didn't change my name on here though I wish I could. :)

Ivan's picture

Welcome back! :)

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