Tell me, and I will forget.
Show me, and I may remember.
Involve me, and I will understand.
– Confucius, BC 450
Sounds good, right? Confucius had a way with words. However, reality is more murky and messy. How exactly do you involve someone to achieve the best results? The goals are pretty straight-forward: (I think)
- Learn quickly
- Learn with solid fundamentals
- Don’t create bad habits
- Maintain energy and interest of student
- Progress towards more depth/complexity
There is a designer that I am teaching. He prefers that I let him design something and then I give him feedback. I am not sure this is a good way to learn, despite it being his preference. He is wasting an enormous amount of time doing things the wrong way. He is not realizing it is the wrong way, until I point out the flaws. He is making bad designs and learning slowly.
On the flip side, if I just show him what to design, he was complaining that he wasn’t using his own brain enough. He was making good designs (and I believe learning), but disliking the process.
There must be some middle ground here.
I think one of the problems is that he is smart and energetic and young. These kinds of people think they can do anything if they put their minds to it. (and often they can!) Life is there for the taking. Carpe Diem! I was like this myself when I was younger.
When I was learning UX, there was no one to teach me. I was forced to design experiences and architect products for customers. I had to fake it. I learned by doing, not from choice, but because I did not have a design master for whom I could apprentice. I learned from everything I saw, read and heard. However, it took me years and years to get good.
In the olden days, blacksmiths (and other craftsman) took apprentices. The master didn’t let students learn by their own methods and give feedback. Masters told apprentices what to do and they did it without question. Then eventually, they would go out on their own and start their own shop. I’m not advocating indentured servitude. I am only pointing out how the cultural expectations of learning a craft have changed in recent history.
I have taught many people aspects of UX. I have incorporated different techniques at different times. Still, I am trying to learn how best to teach. One thing has been scratching my mind.
Some people learn much faster than others.
This isn’t ground breaking. Nature vs. Nurture, right? I am really wondering how much my teaching makes a difference at all. Are some people just going to be better students? Is it the latent talent inside?
I have no answers here, only questions. I don’t trust any of the answers I see online. Their sample sizes are too small and there are too few designers out there who even create worthwhile products. The world needs more great designers, but I am unconvinced it is a matter of teaching. It may just be a matter of economics: Like if we paid more for teachers we might get better teachers.
Definitely something to ponder more.