Teaching Graphic Design

I started teaching Graphic Design in my free time to Khanitta and Zar (with my colleague from the tourism office joining occasionally). There are not yet any professional graphic designers in Xiengkhouang – but there is definitely the need and also interest for it!

At the beginning of my teaching, I was mostly improvising – explaining Creative Suite and trying to find out what they already know (Zar studied a few months design software in Vientiane and already shared some of his knowledge with Khanitta). Doing this, I realized that they can better explore the software by themselves and (after I showed them) with the help of Mr. Google and Mr. Youtube and that I should instead focus on teaching them Design Principles – from the Design Process to Colors, Balance, Typography, Idea-finding etc. So I started to prepare short “lectures” and developed exercises for them. Since I don’t have a lot of time for preparing this (I have to do it after work and lao language class), these are not as elaborated as I would like them to be. But it’s a start and I already learnt a lot (and hope my students did as well)!

Goal: – teaching graphic design to local people (so that they can help themselves after I’m leaving); students should understand and be aware about their design decisions; be able to deliver professional graphic design; open their minds towards different and new solutions

Lessons learnt:
– education is a key for development
– talking only about an abstract idea (as e.g. “color”) doesn’t work > i always have to show applied examples as well
– applied exercises work better than abstract ones as well; e.g. asking them to create a logo (and use 3 different colors which should match) works better than asking them to make good color harmonies with 3 different colors; however i think for understanding the underlying principles, it’s quite important to be able to work abstract as well (is it???)
– the students want to have rules, they need orientation > advice is very fast considered to be a rule, so i have to be careful with my advice
– activity and working in a team is more fun than working alone
– it seems to be great for students if they feel that they can also show something to me (and it’s great for me as well!)
– the idea of what a designer can actually do, is still vague and limited
– in a hierarchical and communist system, people are not used to creative and independent thinking (i think that creativity implies to a certain extent to step out of the system which is not an easy thing to do in Laos)
– teaching takes a lot of time, preparation and practice
– to find a balance between letting students explore to make their own experiences (and mistakes) and advising and guiding them is not always easy

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