Monday, September 18, 2006

Monday Potpourri

** A quote from Shane Claiborne's The Irresistible Revolution:
Sometimes people ask me if I am scared, living in the inner city. I usually reply, "I'm more scared of the suburbs." The Scriptures say that we should not fear those things that can destroy the body, but we are to fear that which can destroy the soul (Matt. 10:28). While the ghettos may have their share of violence and crime, the suburbs are the home of the more subtle demonic forces - numbness, complacency, comfort - and it is these that can eat away at our souls. (p. 227)
from Al Hsu's blog, the author of The Suburban Christian. Both are on my to-read list.

** Advice for [Design] Teachers and Students
For teachers:
- Assign at least 3 books for each course you teach.
And a bunch of blogs, and magazines. But...
- Don't test them on that reading.
... Send the message that reading is a natural, wonderful part of becoming a designer; that that's just what designers do. Also, not testing them will evidence something else: that you trust them. You assign a book, you expect them to read it; you're not wasting their time, and they're not children.
- Teach them to write thank you notes.
Designers need other people—for research, collaboration, support, everything. But people skills are hard to teach. This one's easy. Thank you notes are the right way to do business (or pleasure), and will help inject some civility back into this world.
- You don't teach a class.
You teach a group of individuals. Whether it's a lecture or studio or seminar or fieldtrip, you must never forget that you are teaching unique students who happen to show up at the same time and at the same place.

For students:
- Hone your presentation skills.
Walking the walk and talking the talk are different skills. And no matter how good a designer you are, without a certain level of presentation skills, nobody will ever know. Practice public speaking, present your head off in class, and write, write, write.

- Photograph everything.
... Make sure you bring your camera to class (not the expensive one though—your roommate's) and have fellow students photograph you presenting your work, conducting interviews, that kinda thing. Finally, have others take pictures of you making your models up in the shop. When you've looked at enough portfolios (car, toothbrush, chair, toy, form study, car, toothbrush, toy…), those "process" photos are positively the most exiting thing in your book to a jaded interviewer. "Did you make this model?" Well, yes. I did.

- Do more; consider auditing a class.
"The people who do more are people who get more done." Duh. It's no secret that busy people often get a lot accomplished, and this is the same for students.

- Read the paper.
This is the single best way to be and stay connected with the outside world. A killer-talented designer with nothing so say isn't much use to anyone (though the marketplace would expose the idealism of that argument!), and there's nothing more dangerous than an ignorant mass producer.

- Don't work alone.
I know you know that design is a collaborative effort, so there's no reason why you shouldn't practice getting along with others while you're still in school.
I'm not a design teacher [or a teacher at all]. But I think these principles have a lot of relevance to the way we mentor and lead people and how we can challenge ourselves to continue to be learners. And we should be concentrating a little more on the concept of Design. [Maybe more about that later.]

** From this month's Next Wave - Brenda-Based Youth Ministry vs. Family-Based Youth Ministry
When I scheduled the youth group to prepare a meal for the homeless shelter, I didn't get the expected hesitation of too many minors in the industrial kitchen without the appropriate number of adults. I got a chipper relief in her voice when I told her we do youth group with our parents required to be involved. But that is not why we do it.

We do it because we realize that teens take their spiritual cues from their parents. Even if they don't have spiritual parents but spiritual longings, these teens attach themselves to other parents who do. Sometimes even fondly calling them "mom" or "dad." So in all reality, a teen's faith will only grow as far as the parents' faith. So why not challenge the parents alongside the teens?

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