Beyond Ideology: Retrospect and Prospect

  • Phil Roberts Royal College of Art


The paper takes as its platform the centrality of ill-defined problems in design educational activity. From an appreciation of the nature of these states of affairs, two meta-aspects of design educational developments are offered: one, retrospective, the other, prospective.

In the retrospective aspect, interpreting data collected by NADE and the RCA's research project team (1974-1976), seven features are associated with 'design education' developments in secondary education (when construing the activities of designing as an aspect of human action in general, rather than with Design as a school subject).

Related to these seven features, a characterisation of a possible secondary curriculum is offered. In a speculative passage, a possible organising focus for such a conception of the curriculum is nominated in: man, his nature, his responsibility towards himself and others, and his habitat. Against this, some implications are introduced in terms of the nature and functions of the school (as institution) and the formal curriculum programme. A shift in general orientation towards curriculum 'content' is proposed, with a shift of attention towards seeing the learner as being the agent of responsible and reponsive action - developed through experience of design educational activity. A pedagogic approach to this is seen in 'problematization'. It is suggested that reflecting on the experiencing of design educational activities may reveal and illuminate paradoxes; in particular, the co-existence of conservative and potentially subversive views of the design activity in human affairs. Hence, it is proposed, axiomatically, that agents of action should be properly sceptical towards the status quo and proposals for 'innovation'.

In the prospective meta-view of design educational activity, it is proposed that a focussing (through problematization) on the nature of design educational activity may lead to a reflexive and continually re-structuring pedagogy: that is, towards the emergence of a curriculum discourse which would be part of being a teacher.

How to Cite
ROBERTS, Phil. Beyond Ideology: Retrospect and Prospect. Studies in Design Education Craft & Technology, [S.l.], v. 14, n. 2, sep. 2009. ISSN 0305 766. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 29 mar. 2023.