Updated: Apr 8
Case Study Review
The Green Imperative - Victor Papanek
Some main points I picked up from Chapter 10: Generations to Come were:
Design can bring great benefit to education, not just with the education of designers, but with the education of everyone - specifically children from kindergarten and nursery school all the way through secondary education and beyond.
School curricula and teaching methods can be greatly aided by systems design. Finally, there is educational software - seats, desks, tables, teaching aids, wall charts, teaching machines and audiovisual materials - which is in desperate need of creative innovation and redesign.
Design education should be introduced into nursery, primary and secondary schools instead of limiting it to vocational and occupational studies post-secondary level.
Children are naturally active. If they are to be kept in classrooms for many hours a day with limited exercise periods, the classrooms should at least be visually exciting to compete with stimulating public spaces.
Children are physically active bundles of stored energy, often so frustrated at school that their inborn need to acquire knowledge is stifled. The continuing assault on a child's sensibilities by beguiling advertisements - the frequently decerebrating programme served up to children on television the underlying capitalistic concept of 'you are what you buy' and that you express yourself through objects - has made the task of education even more difficult. But committed designers working closely with children, parents and teachers as part of a multidisciplinary team could help to turn things around.
I found it interesting and completely agree with the points that Papanek makes about design within education and how it goes much further than textbooks and storybooks. Design within the education system can have a huge impact through how the school is designed, lighting (both artificial and natural), desks, other furniture and materials in general. Of course, in an ideal world, all of this would’ve been taken into consideration before we even get onto the task of looking into the most effective ways of teaching plastic pollution. It’s well documented that schools in Finland enjoy huge success due to their reimagining of the whole schooling system, from school start times, class and break times to architecture.
With this in mind, Papanek also discusses the brilliantly simple ideas generated by his students, such as ‘Floppy Math’, a game that introduces students to many mathematical concepts which is fun and simple to make by using brightly coloured cotton and can be adjusted through sewing by students and/or their parents.
As well as this were the Icosahedral Dice, 20 sided dice used for creative problem-solving. The dice design and origin can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians, through to the Romans and Greeks. There are numerous theories as to what they were originally used for, although there's speculation that they were originally used for games or to contact the supernatural. Papanek discusses how his students had used the dice design to help facilitate teaching on subjects such as geography, plot development, history, biology and other subjects. Could they be also used in education on plastic pollution?
Play Well, an exhibition at the Wellcome Collection which explores the ideas and objects that have shaped the way we play from mid 1800 to today.
It's clear from my research up-to-date that there's an important correlation between design and play when it comes to education. It reminds me of looking at Bruno Munari's children's books and noting that the design allowed for play in numerous ways. I Prelibri designed in a way that allows young readers to pick the books up and hold them at ease, flicking through them and feeling the different textures on their cheeks. From this, children learn and develop skills necessary for their future development.
Papanek, V. (2021). GREEN IMPERATIVE : ecology and ethics in design and architecture. S.L.: Thames & Hudson [Accessed 6 Apr. 2022].
hato.co. (n.d.). HATO. [online] Available at: https://hato.co/projects/wellcome-collection-play-well-at-wellcome [Accessed 8 Apr. 2022].