The Author’s reflection on achieving six months in the job under the template, the news of another Melbourne craft faculty closing because of funding issues, that another innovative technological solution to all the significant problems of the world was being celebrated somewhere and that this Author was the fully funded means to resolving the perceived inconsistencies in the development of a sustainable teaching practice in the SUTS Design Program Kuching. 

Joyful Pessimism

Life as a business continues its expansion around the world uncontested as the only ‘super power’. Obliged to commodify their craft the maker(and the educator) enter the market ocean – and sink or swim but never conquer it – and keep their autonomy – it seems to me. Don’t mourn – celebrate how long the vestiges of culture have survived within universities post-D2 ( Dawkins+Digital). Perhaps long enough to be transplanted (underground) for the next generation of culturally malnourished infants to engage with the millennial continuity that is their human legacy? Use it or lose it kids!

Technology Offers False Hope

Creativity is the only human contribution to the Universal. The continuum shift the article’s author refers to perhaps highlights the failure of Creativity’s collectivisation by industry – and like that other Universal force – energy – it is gradual returning to its own wellspring undiminished. Subjectivity. Human Autonomy.

Networks as another truly magnificent Natural order, unnaturally inorganic in their digitally synthesised form, are efficiently colonised  – but to no other end than empowerment, enrichment and progressive enslavement of Subjectivity. I’m on the side of Subjectivity finding it’s own way to expression – freedom in it’s time. Without charismatic leadership and ‘Futurist’ rhetoric

I stand on the side of Bifo

Art as Creativity’s progeny, has never not been and always makes the best of it’s human tools. Art is an incorruptible First Truth. Only in its socially engineered manifestations is it commodified and falsified. But subjectivity – Human Autonomy – has a digital virus and is ailing.

What to do?

You may lead a learner to knowledge but you can’t make them think

To assume any authority – is in conflict with my personal philosophy. I am a watcher and listener – an autonomous learner. To share what I have learnt seems a reasonable expectation of me. Believe me I am not the solution – but could perhaps be a way – to individual solutions  that can serve the whole. The whole being Design Sarawak. Despite talking more than I am ever prepared for – I do believe I have some of my best thoughts whilst I’m talking. (So to did McLuan – a virtual mentor during my vulnerable years – say of his own process.) – Particularly when there is so much valuable input>insights to be had from silences and uncertainties.


My first thought is an outcome of my first semester and – at times – the  overwhelming weight of the spreadsheet that came down on my personal practice.

In the midst of so much strategic planning activity is there – where is – the Strategic Thinking?

STRATEGIC THINKING: …to seek innovation and imagine new and very different futures ... (F.Graetz)

The term ‘design thinking’ has been bandied about. A Design Thinker  thinks strategically and ultimately applies the design process .

DESIGN THINKING: …a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity… (T.Brown IDEO)

In a program staffed by diversely different ‘design makers’  the hoped for common denominator  – the unifying practice – that is the wellspring of the teaching and the what, the why and how of the teaching – should be design thinking .

What’s the problem?

The transfer of finite skills to the student is necessarily secondary to education into design thinking. Skills serve thinking – so they must be the servant not the master of the design process.

In a university program – albeit undergraduate – the imperative to learn design thinking proficiencies whilst engaging in the practice of design is often in conflict with the student vocational aspirations but should be deferred to simply because of this. Design thinking is the key proficiency the teacher must have and bring to the learning relationship. It is that which we as a discipline should celebrate. In ourselves. Our students . Wherever it can be found in the community, in culture and in history.

Design thinking is not only a tool, it is a value. Having it in the cupboard is no guarantee it will be utilised. Design thinking is the shared practice that unifies the diversity that is Design – that puts an artist and writer on the same page. A musician and event designer on the same stage. A Designer and a User on the same desktop.

Design thinking is manifest in questions asked.

The need to engage in strategic thinking  re the future of the program – 5 years? requires strategic thinking – and design thinking – by all participants – and a plan.

1.Design is a business practice not only a subset of a School – it needs to act like a business – it needs a plan with goals . What are they?

2.Are the autonomous individuals that could be a Group whatever there specialisation and practices – design thinkers?

3. Can you retrofit an autonomous individual as a design thinker and/or enhance their existing capacity?

4.Program goals can only be shared amongst a group with a shared understanding of what they teach. What do we teach?

The view is not mine alone, that what we teach is weighted equally in its relationship with how we teach. In our teaching paradigm the student in their successes and failures is us. Solutions in the design of teaching and learning for the student must be viable for all participants. The teacher is the student and in design – the student is also the teacher.

Not only a ‘Malaysian’ thing a systemic culture of authority ‘from above’  leads to endemic box ticking and role playing antithetical to design thinking and the collaboration necessary for strategic thinking to be effective. What do I mean ?

Towards a Community of Practice

The most productive design environment where dynamic design thinking is in discourse – in the community of practice – an ancient model still embodied in the word studio for design as a practice. Not the classroom which has it’s roots in an equally medieval church.

Some actions that I believe would serve us well in designing design in Sarawak would take us towards creating incrementally a community of practice that is mutually – holistically valuable to all its members and stakeholders.

1.Integrate staff autonomy and goals (and needs) through direct and designerly management of the working space and its use and their contributing roles.

2.Establish and maintain a Design resourcing budget and planning.

3.Coordinate timetabling facilities from within the department, within the university, supporting the strategic objectives.

4. Define strategic program objectives/goals and review the program on a semester by semester basis with an elevation of the submission/assessment/moderation period to support those objectives.

I find discussing these issues challenging and stimulating and believe it would be suitable to create  an ongoing context to continue as a commitment to progressing Design Sarawak towards a strategic commitment to design thinking as its unifying practice. – to designing its own future.


  1. Mimmo Cozzolino Says:

    Stop dribbling it out and put it in a B O O K.
    go to

  2. anthonyfward Says:

    You say the nicest things – dribbling – sounds like drivelling. No to the BOOK – but I have enjoyed Grosz’s excursion into the page . That’s two to him and 120 pages/posts to me.

    (You may well enjoy some upcoming Episodes – I mention you … amongst others.)

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