Have you ever thought about teaching?

I didn’t know if this should go here or in the students/schools section.

Has anyone thought about going on to become a design or art teacher? When I think back to my teachers in college some had been teaching for several decades with lots of real world experiences, some were new with much less experience. It ran across my mind as I was looking at masters programs. I am only 2 years out of college and plan on working on long time as a IDer but teaching is something that might be interesting in the far future. I was interested if others have thought about this, or have gone into the field already. Do you still do side/freelance work?

I’ve taught a few college level courses and I definetly see myself going over to being a fulltime faculty member someday, but I’m thinking 15 years from now… I’d likento be was of the department for a bit and help design the curriculum. I would of course freelance still.

I too graduated about 1.5 years ago, I love to teach and I had TA’d this year and currently I am working on designing an online class to teach next year. I think if you are new grad and good in certain aspects, research, sketching, model making etc maybe try ask your school’s director to evaluate your skills and tell them your interest and ask if you could teach. Asking your own school is better, because they know about your qualification better than other schools. Probably they would set you with a lower level class or maybe TA. But that is a good start.
You probably need a side work, unless you are a full time faculty.

Best wishes


I’m still a senior but CMU lets students lead courses (provided that they write up a proposal, interview, set curriculum, talk with faculty advisors, etc), and I’m currently teaching a course for further sketching development beyond the standard curriculum. I’ve only taught one class so far, but it was really fun.

Eventually I hope to become a full-time professor.

I always thought about it and took the plunge 2 years ago. It was a really great experience for me and I enjoyed teaching the students and working with the faculty.
On the personal development side, it was good for me. I always freelance so I’m used to being the solo worker. I’ve always wanted to move to managing or directing but could never get the experience working a group of designers coming in the freelance capacity. Also, just because of my introverted personality, I tend to disappear in a crowd of designers. But being the teacher, all eyes are on you, everyone knows and recognizes you as the authority and are just eager and ready to learn, perched on their seat for your every word. It’s a good feeling to know that you’re helping others learn and that they appreciate what you’re doing for them. And it was a good way for me to develop those group interaction and presentation skills.
I usually deal directly with a head designer, manager, etc… so it was a good change to consistently manage and present to a full class. And making sure that while you teach, you can keep the different personality types involved and entertained can be an interesting challenge.

Pay is usually pretty crappy if you’re an adjunct / part time instructor though but hanging out with students is kind of fun except for when they bug you after school.

There are two kinds of teachers, those with real world experience and those who wouldn’t cut it in the real world work environment but can talk “semi-intellectually” about design. I guess both have their place. Skills and theory.

I am a teacher, apart from my freelance work. What I love most about teaching is that the students will ask those fundamental questions. The ones you have forgotten. The ones that really matter. It’s always nice to get your feet back on the ground and focus on what is really important.
Another advantage of teaching is that you can inflict your mindset into the mind of others and thus create an army of new designers that will change the world :wink:

Don’t do it for the money…do it because you want to make a difference


I taught full-time at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and am now teaching part-time at Carnegie Mellon University. In Hong Kong I taught Studios, Professional Practices, Materials & Processes and Design Thinking classes at the Engineering School. At Carnegie Mellon I am teaching Professional practices at the Design School and an occasional class on Design Thinking at the Business School.

I am glad I took time to teach at this point in my life. It gave me time to think and also gave me time and the push to get a Masters degree. Hong Kong was great because we were paid well and had a lot of interaction with designers from all over the world and Chinese business and government officials.

The hard part for me is that there comes a point where you are teaching the same classes over and over again. While the material can change some year to year, the audience does not. As I design manager I was used to the fact that as I grew so did the people who worked for me. In teaching I was growing but every year the students were coming in at the same level. It is the nature of the beast and many professors use this as a way to have a class already set up so they can spend more time with research. If that works for you then you will do well.

I am happy with the part-time teaching as I did not want to completely separate from it and I am very glad that my company supports this. In fact 5 of the 17 people at our firm are teaching part-time this semester.

Back again

F*ck teaching… Yeah it’s great to be able to shape and motivate the students but it’s not worth it because the system is rotten.

Yesterday I got the sack as a teacher. Not because I had a bad evaluation or complaints. On the contrary…everybody was very pleased with what I was doing. The reason for doing so is purely academic.
This year they have to do some savings on personal. And since most teachers are academics (read can’t be fired) the guest-teachers are the ones that get the sack. In an academic system you are not being evaluated by your work but by your title or contract-status. Remember this when you think about teaching. You invest a lot in it and in the end you might as well end up like me.

Another funny story. One of our teachers (a great guy with lots of experience) is retiring so they need a replacement. An instead of searching for this in the current batch of teachers they wanted someone from outside. And not just anyone…No no he needs to be a doctor/master/PHD…they found a lot of candidates with lots of workexperience in the fields (+20 years) motivated and all but they weren’t Phd’s…in the end they had to settle for a Phd who doesn’t have any experience in the industry nor in the discipline that he has to teach…ain’t that sad?

So I say bye bye to them all…very unfortunate for the students because I do think I did make a difference.

But after this…never again




Sorry you got the ax, it is kind of a crappy way to go out. I’ve been hearing a lot about this sort setup (a couple of my friends are professors/teachers/adjuncts) and basically I hear three levels of complaints and it’s all about those with tenure. The administration asks them to take fewer benefits etc. to help cut costs, but they don’t want to. The next step is to go in and let some of the non tenured go (visiting, adjuncts, assitants etc.).

I wonder if this will create a sort of ‘brain drain’ on the education system.

** Back to the thread**

Personally I think I would make for a terrible teacher, I’ve got not patience and I can be jerk if I see people who aren’t passionate about what they do. I think you have to make a lot of sacrifices (ie, time sink) if you want to be a teacher and I’m nowhere near ready to commit to that.

Atohms, sorry to hear about the situation. That is horrible. I don’t understand the academic system of tenure. I don’t think it is relevant for design education.

Instead of being a teacher, I’ve thought of starting a school, perhaps with a few other likeminded designers who enjoy mentoring. I think it is possible.

Here in Sweden we have a 1 year ID preparation course, not tied to the academia I believe. They teach you what design is about, as well as basic skills - lots of sketching I believe. Then those students go on to apply to a “real” ID education, with a 90% acceptance rate.

Does that sound like what you’re thinking about? In effect, you would get to set the very foundation of someone’s design career. Maybe you can start one up in US? In Sweden the tuition is free, but in US it could be a real business opportunity.


I was more than fed-up with the “education industry” in 1973. Granted, formal Industrial Design education was relatively uncommon at the time, but for the most part the instructors that I had, having not spent any time on the boards, didn’t know up from down. Their philosophies were pertinent, but from a student perspective, their actual “design-skills” left much to be desired. I was disappointed. I remember thinking to myself that I’d be damned if I’d take a teaching job with less than ten years of actual work experience to draw from (and pass on).

When I was sixteen we visited family in Nyack, NY. We were on an outing one afternoon and I was introduced to a professional glass-blower (both art and scientific lab ware); an interesting guy that I hit it off with. His workshop was intriguing to me, and I stopped back by a couple of times while we were on vacation. I think he picked up on my interest, because the last time I visited he invited me to become his apprentice … a concept that I wasn’t familiar with at that age. I couldn’t take him up on his offer, but it would have been interesting I think.

I now know, from my own personal 6,000 hour experience, how the “apprenticeship” system works, and it has it’s merits. Actual on-the-job-training, with graded-pay (students have to make a living too), combined with classroom studies, under the tutelage of experienced “tradesmen”. In the particular field that I refer to the established apprenticeship program is recognized by “industry” so an employer knows the qualifications of the individual. In ID terms the apprenticeship is the equivalent of an Internship (only more extensive).

I think you’ve got a great idea Michael; essentially a private “design school” _viz-a-vi_z Taliesin (which, BTW, turns 100 years old next year). “Accreditation” would be a problem more than likely… academia doesn’t like anyone horning in on the action. But “accreditation” be damned.

But it would be the problem with your “private design school” concept Michael. Of course it’s only a “problem” to those HR types who seek new hires from the established “educational system”. I don’t think there are too many, if any, architectural principals that would not recognize the significance of a Taliesin-trained applicant, for example.

At the risk of being considered a “vocational” trade (along with electricians, welders, etc.), “Industrial Design” needs a new educational system. But it also needs a new “hiring system” on the part of industry.

I do like this idea :wink: Lots of people on these forums have tons of experience and material to inspire and tutor future designers.
But why restrict us geologically when we can use the internet? Maybe we should start-up an online core-school?
Shouldn’t be that hard. We already have the forums. Let’s combine some of our material into basic courses (sketching, creativity techniques, form-semantics, production-techniques, materials, sustainability, CAD). It’s feasible…

Let me know what you think

And srry to be drifting of topic again :wink:

@ Thx for the support

Atohms, to the contrary, I think this is entirely on topic! Essentially many of us would like to teach, except that the schools get in the way!

@LMO, I was entirely thinking of a Taliesin type of thing (except my apprentices wouldn’t have to farm! :wink: ) I would keep it un-acredited. Most large corporations have a “4 year degree or equivalent” clause in their hiring practices (working for a large corporation and having hired some people I got to know a few of the ins and outs there)… right now I have 12 years of experience, I was thinking of doing this when I have more like 25 years experience… and having worked with a large multi national brand and a large mutli national innovation firm, it becomes a lot harder to argue with!

Fellow frog and board poster, Jon Kolko opened his own school in Austin for the kind of design he wants to teach: http://www.austincenterfordesign.com/

@engio a one year prep course could be an interesting start, possibly with a partnership from a school that would then grant scholarships for continuedd study, I’ve also thought about starting with some corporate sponsorship. Again, getting to know the right people there. It’s a long term goal, but eventually I want to focus on reshaping design education, and I’m not about to get my PHD so I can head up a program, the experience I’m getting in the world I feel is much more relevant.

So any follow up on the core-design-school?

I would suggest we bundle some blogs with information regarding sketching, prototyping, idea-generation/exploration, CAD, etc…
and then create a portal on core.

I’m going to put my basic sketching-course (http://www.atohms.be/basic_sketching.ppt) in a blog this year.
And my inspiration-library is already online: http://athousandgreatideas.wordpress.com/

I’d love to do the same for prototyping…

Any other suggestions? Maybe we should create a new topic for this.
Anyone from core wants to back this up, guide us?



As a potential student in something like this I’m interested in seeing where this discussion will go. I’ve looked into the Designboom Design Aerobic’s classes from time to time, haven’t ever done one because I still don’t have a solid idea of what the structure is, who’s teaching, what to expect etc. I’ve also looked into similar online Concept Art classes, usually they’re too expensive or too time consuming to do while enrolled as a full time student or working full time.

I think Core77 has the reputation and the talent pool to pull off something similar with great interest.

As an undergrad ID student I’d also be interesting in seeing some type of Core ID classes. I would however, be a lot more comfortable with an actual physical classroom environment as opposed to online teaching (although I guess some sort of live feed would be somewhat ok with me).

So we do have an audience… :wink:

Making the classes physical and not online would certainly exclude me and a lot of other Non-American designers.
Therefore I would root for online courses. Albeit maybe some lessons/lectures are given in a certain area and then the synopsis/movie gets uploaded -as suggested-. And If I may dream…these movies can become better than the actual lesson -albeit with a little effort-. As these examples clearly show:


Physical is always great, but online is probably a more realistic solution. I have not taken an online class but I’m sure with all the advances in webcasting it would be pretty easily feasible. Timezones are an issue, so would it be a live deal or not? Is there benefit to a live class versus an uploaded video. Is feedback more meaningful if given over skype or through an email?

If it is online then I guess the big hurdle to get over that I see is what would make a Core class any different then all the things already freely available. For great tutorials there is idsketching, the Core boards, and various other bits and pieces throughout the web, for design feedback there’s already the Core forums where a lot of feedback comes from seasoned design professionals.

I go to DAAP for the things that I can’t get online, the access to the one on one guidance, the network experience, the interaction with classmate, the co-op’s, the woodshop, the computer lab etc. What would be the equivalent things that a web class could offer?

Just thinking out loud, I’m definitely interested in this and volunteer myself to be a guinea pig in the first trial run class if it happens! :slight_smile: