The Last Decade and the Next

Bernard Aylward
1977, Vol. 10, No. 1,


A review of developments in Design Education over the last decade could well start with a look at the first article in the last issue of this journal (Design and Creative Studies Departments by Hilary Cameron) since the point of view of the writer is approximately ten years out of date. It would be far more at home in Rhodes Boyson's 'Black Papers' since it also looks back with nostalgia to a past that never was instead of applying intelligence to the actual present.

The title alone, with its suggestion that the distance travelled is more important than the direction taken, should prevent anyone taking it too seriously, but a closer examination of some of its grosser absurdities reveals the shallowness of the 'Dissertation'.

The writer apparently accepts without question the 1974 paper issued by the Association of Art Advisers and does not know that this statement was foisted on the Association by a few strongly motivated individuals, was never accepted by all art advisers and is now generally discredited. I have never been able to understand how any adviser can, with a clear conscience, justify a bolstering up of his teachers' prejudices against development when he should be using all his energies helping and encouraging them to face the challenge of changing conditions. For a more balanced view of the attitude of art teachers to the need for change it would be better to refer to the proceedings of the last NSAE annual conference.

Hilary Cameron also claims to identify the motives of those who set up Design Departments and then uses this bogus assessment in order to denigrate them. Could it not be that Local Authorities, Heads of Schools and Departments, becoming aware (even if only partially) of the possibilities offered for better development of pupils, thought it wise to attempt some change of organisation? Of course, in doing so, many of them made mistakes but as Royce (of Rolls Royce) was fond of saying, 'A man who never made a mistake never made anything'. There is no doubt in my mind that a teacher who tries to develop his ideas on education, even if he does make mistakes, is a better influence on children than one who complacently goes on offering the same tired old pabulum.

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