Design Education: Formal Education vs. Self-Study
In today’s world, where information is always at our fingertips or in our pockets, many are considering alternative methods of education. Many have taught themselves brand new skill sets with a few simple Google searches, and people in all professions are benefitting from the influx of readily available information. Such advances in technology, combined with the rising costs of higher education are causing many to wonder if formal education is a necessity, especially in the creative professions. While self-study is admirable, and often necessary, it is important not to overlook the values and benefits of receiving a formal design education.
The Components of Design Education
Before debating whether formal education is a necessity for a career in design, it is worth exploring the components of a successful design education. Many mistakenly believe that in creative careers talent is enough to ensure success. However, even the most talented designers can benefit from basic instruction in the aspects of good design as well as advanced instruction on more complex processes, such as pre-press production and printing processes.
A good graphic design program will teach the basics of art—design principles and concepts, as well as techniques in drawing and three-dimensional construction. These concepts are universal and applicable to any form of art. An understanding of art history is often a requirement to learn about art movements and their influence on modern design. Of course, there is an abundance of software education, and design students will take several classes in the industry standard software packages mandatory for design work. In addition to practical skills, there is also a lot of instruction in critical thinking and theory. Coursework should give students the opportunity to practice problem solving as well as design process, preparation for when they enter the work force. Design education coursework will allow students to exercise their creativity without the restrictions and limitations they will face upon entering the work force. Ideally, design education gives students the foundation they will need to become successful professionals and valued contributors to the world of design.
Contributing Factors to the Dismissal of Design Education
It is becoming more and more common in recent years, for students to abandon traditional methods of education, citing that there is no need for such methods in a society that focuses heavily on technology. Society is focused on STEM careers, the latest buzzword in higher education. STEM careers are touted as the careers of the future, necessary for the advancement of the world and its infrastructure. And indeed that is the case, and the reason why STEM based careers are pushed onto students though early immersion programs and eager parents anxious to ensure the financial success of their children.
STEM careers have been placed in high regard, with many...