How is it going?

A quarter of the semester is over.I have brought you to a point where you are irritated, angry, and slightly pissed off.

You are Bored!! You cant stay awake in class. Everything in class makes you angry. Nothing seems to have a point.

And worst of all all your friends, in the other studios, have raced ahead with their projects.

So you hate it. That much is obvious.

But why? Whats going on?

Or hows it going?

It is a very simple studio

It is a very simple studio. It is wysiwyg.

But is is so simple that you suspect it of hiding something. You ‘dont know whats going on’- but you do. What you are unclear of is what watching moves has to do with Industrial Design.

But we cant discuss that unless we know what design is. But we dont and its goin to be a long haul – this finding out what design is. And there is no guarantee that we would have a good picture. But there is one thing we can be certain of – our thinking. We can work on that. And watching Trakovsky or Goddard may help. But it may not – and we will not know till we have watched these films.

But can I give you a guarantee? I can but will not.

What is the studio in the main. 13 sessions.
13 lectures/engagements
13 studio exercises

And a lot besides: All the things you will do till october IN YOUR LIFE – which you wish to bring into the course and claim credit in the course for. All the fun things like going out (visits), watching films, meeting people (assignments), pursuing your hobby (case study), going to hear people speak, .. and other such things your life is composed of. What does it have to do with uni -if you bring it into the classroom its uni. And this studio will let you do that. Nay it wants you to do that. It doesnt want you to keep life and uni in two separate compartments.

But that is such a pain in the XX you say. No you dont? Okay I will.

Here let me introduce you to the voice of dissent – Ouspensky. This will be my pen name for a dissenting voice I will post on this blog. He will be a bit harsh – so brace yourself.

Problem kya tha

Why did I offer a studio called – what is the probelm.

Because in my conversations with some of the young people in our community I saw what for me was a problem.
1. The real huge hidden world of design – in the big companies – was totally unknown.
2. I wondered about who was supplying the tools that these young people were using to think?
3. The Submission was a big huge monster – but they do it differently in the favellas.
4. Life and uni were to be kept apart. Uni was work.
5. Design was primarily re-design. Or a thing to do things with.
6. A design project was supposed to be extremely hard work.

So I set up a studio which would tackle all this. And so the studio.

First Phase is done

The first phase of the semester is over. The first phase belonged to Soumitri. He took three sessions:

1. 13th July: The Corporation was introduced and you were provoked into looking at the design consultancy from a humanist perspective – the way the IDIOT (see below) would see it. You learnt the questioning technique (learning 1); you were given the contract and asked to think about your aspiration grade; You were shown/introduced to the idea of the mentors; You were introduced to the idea of the fish bowl; It was hinted that Corporations privileged GOOD THINKING. And you had your first brush with ‘group discussion’. The idea of the favella was introduced.

2. 20th July: The Notion of Creativity was broached. You did a small exercise in boundary shifting; you were shown a book and told there was a huge resource that you could access; You were introduced to the SWOT. (some of you came into the first year studio – and participated in a discussion – the frist years saw that your thinking was different from theirs- they would comment on this a week later). You brought your thoughts on construction waste – and were not given any time to show or discuss it. But you got time to discuss the tof of the way to deal with mentors.

3. 27th July: You were engaged in a discussion on “what is design”. In this you were introduced to categories; you were handed the spider diagram as a tool. You were then given a spider diagram that spelt out ways for your individual development – you were shown how to use this to fill out your contract-matrix. You pulled out the construction waste printouts, and the tof. You were not allowed to present these. The session was the last of Soumitri’s slots.

The first phase is over. I have opened up for you ways of thinking about three issues; corporation, creativity, design. They may have been closed topics or hidden topics – but now you can go into these areas using the tool kit I have given you.
Corporation-questioning technique
Design-Spider diagram
(And many new words and phrases; which are little satchels to collect things inside)

The frist phase is over. You have learnt a huge amount; three fat things. You have travelled a huge distance (though you feel like you are in the same place). You are now inside three territories (three fortresses?) – and you have to begin your explorations. Go off and realize the signifiicance of what you have learnt.

Now it is over to you.
1. The classroom will be handed over to you on 3rd. Say you want to show something; you will show and I will join the others in commenting or helping.
2. August and September is yours. I will do small lectures/provocations on topics we can mutually agree upon.
3. Decide what you want to do and I will help you work out how to do it.

c u on 3rd

Why are we here?

“So, a university is a place where you will receive an excellent academic education, equip yourself with some of the necessary social skills for life and, for some of you, start a major technical professional development. But somehow I feel as if I haven’t caught the essence of the experience. Throughout your life you are going to be focused on working, the bottom line, profit and loss, meeting targets, outcomes, performance indicators, etc., etc. – a university education is a unique opportunity to learn and develop in a secure environment for three very important years of your life before you start all of that. Perhaps, in the end, it is the multiple informal conversations and discussions with your peers and your academics which are the quintessence of the experience. We joke about students “setting the world to rights” until three-oclock in the morning, but these are defining discussions which help you build the moral and philosophical structures around which you will centre your life.

Although we now embrace lifelong learning, no experience matches that of a residentialthree or four years at a good university – it will change and define you in so many ways that it does, literally, give you the opportunity of a lifetime. Please think about seizing it with both hands.”
– Vice-Chancellor, Professor Eric Thomas, to a meeting of The Bristol Society in the Great Hall of the Wills Memorial Building on 25 September 2002

Is it time?

"Trust In Me" Ka in Jungle Book

26th July 2005. Its been some time since we spoke. This conversation meanders. But sputters too. And as often becomes a ghost. Welcome P.

Phaedrus: Tell me. What was yesterday like.
S: Nice. Better. I may have broken through. We are a long way from a robust radicalism – and an even longer way away from robust resilient thinking. There are too many bad habits; too many things that have been privileged; years and years of going down pathways that promised safety – the safe options road.

P: But surely you don’t object to that. I do remember your being very interested in following a step behind thought processes.
S: Ummm. You are right. I am not making value judgements. Though I admit it sounds like that. I am a student of patterns and ways. The aboriginal way of categorizing components of life is very different and as significant as any other. I am not a missionary being deprecating about the practices and ways of the other. That would be incorrect. However with the 17 students I have not had much time to sit down and comprehend their vocabulary, their universe of discourse – which states what is important and what is not. Given how rushed I am these days I sometimes wish I could just proscribe all that they consider important – hoping in some way to turn a switch which makes them all open to a wide variety of options. But alas that cannot be done. Education is about a slow and delicate process – which has to be done in a sisyphusian fashion – one step at a time. And each step has to be taken by the child herself – I cant give information, for that would put all of them into wheel chairs for the rest of their lives. At any step they could turn around and cut me out – we don’t trust you. So yesterday was a turning point – and it was visible. The bodies did not slouch as much, the deprecatory look was confined to a few, chests were forward, eyes were open wider – you could begin to see a different form of engagement. The drawl in the voice and the fear of commitment is still there – but there is a little bit of trust – a flicker of faith. We may pull it off. But still they are mildly nasty.

P: Tell me about the ‘eager restless student’ again. Been a while since I heard that.
S: It has been, hasn’t it. 1987 – School of Architecture, New Delhi, and then again TVB 1991. Okay. I took this group of students to the basketball court and pushed the ball away from me. A minute later I found myself watching an enthusiastic soccer match in progress. There must have been 25 of them there that day. Years later – I was standing similarly with Randhir – and watching the furious kicking of the ball. Many of them had never played soccer. But had thrown themselves into the kicking. But it wasn’t about the ball was it? It was the first thing – I didn’t have to say anything – they just took off. But it was a class – and they had changed it into a game. But more importantly they were not standing around asking to be instructed – tell us what to do. Now imagine you walk into a class and there is a buzz. They are eager – as though you are what they have been waiting for – and cannot get enough of what you have to offer. They snatch, they push, they are open and give themselves totally. Ah but how strange is that. What is more likely is a group of students crouched – defensively – silent, watchful for tricks, deprecatory and dismissive of the teacher just to get a few laughs from the other students, always fearful lest they look ridiculous. But one day I had a class in Jerusalem. 35 students like open-mouthed vacuum cleaners – snapping up everything I had to offer, sucking up everything. Throwing themselves into the discussion, running, running, here there and in the end they were exhausted. Totally drained. They would ask what is going on, why are we SO tired – this has never happened to us even when we have trekked huge distances in the army. Ah! that is your mind – you use it and it tires. Can we build up the stamina of our mind? – of course you can. I will help – it will take time. But you have to use it – not a little – you have to strain it, push it, and keep doing that; till your brain is strong and grows in all directions – and is hungry for the limit experience. And so it was that I encountered the eager restless student.

P: Will these students go that way?
S: That would be wonderful to speculate. We are still building confidence – “no don’t be scared, say it aloud, I am here to strike down the judgemental, good on you”. And so on – again and again – pushing, pushing always. Its happening, I amplified one or two things that the fearful do – stand away, hands cupped under face, crossed arms – classic, classic. Leaning back to speak – always conscious of themselves; till they look around and see the others – you cannot play soccer this way, you have to throw yourself at the ball, the question, the idea. But like I started saying at the beginning – its slow, its taken two weeks, I have been gentle (this is not Israel), and they are responding. They are beginning to trust me. Or in their words ‘ now they get it’ or have begun to see “what is going on”.

(But then – Why cant they just speak English – and be done with.)