While practice remains the central issue in design education, I believe it is important that students reflect critically on their own practice and develop an awareness of contemporary discourse in the field and the contextual issues that affect design practices. Students need to be well equipped with relevant practical skills to excel as a professional upon graduation. More importantly, students should be prepared to face future challenges in a field that is constantly in flux and a world that is becoming less and less predictable. In response, my pedagogy emphasises ‘teaching for significance’ as rather simply providing a formula for success. A student-centred, interactive classroom that promotes self-motivated learning is what I strive to achieve. Rather than playing the role of an authority figure, I invite students to challenge the status quo, initiate debates, and to actively take charge of their own decisions, actions and education. As such, I take on the role of a facilitator of learning. Guided self-discovery is valued over the transmission of knowledge and plurality is favoured over the enforcement of immutable rules.
Early on in my career, I had already decided that I wanted to work in an academic setting rather than a commercial one, and began to teach merely two years after I graduated from my master’s degree, initially part-time and later as a full time assistant professor. I found that I cared too deeply about the philosophical and theoretical discourse of design, and would not find satisfaction in working purely in the industry. Practicing and teaching design are two rather different things. Teaching gives one an opportunity to reflect on practice, and externalise the implicit knowledge developed through practice, put it into some sort of framework in a structured way, so that it can be imparted to learners. I find this process deeply satisfying.
I have now accumulated over 18 years of experience in the higher education sector as a teacher, researcher as well as senior academic leader. I have worked at university environments in the UK, Hong Kong, as well as Canada, spanning the spectrum of traditional art and design university, comprehensive polytechnic university and research-intensive university that pioneered design research, and now in a specialised, career-oriented design school.