Bob Bailey

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Self Initiated Project – brief presentation / group discussion


After my first presentation (a powerpoint presentation of 65 slides with sound) failed the 6 minute brief miserably by being too long and not ‘sticking to the brief by not mentioning who your students are – I decided to not stick to the brief yet again by presenting my Self Initiated Project in ½ the time that I was supposed to. So reading out 2 A4 sheets of notes and research only lasted 5 minutes.

There was no padding (as in a few peer presentations), there was, I had perceived, a well thought-through suggestion/proposal. Answering the set questions and adding in suggestions of where I would be looking for research. I got a lot out of the input from 3 other group members (3 others had joined us too late for me to glean any reaction of my proposal). I’m not very comfortable playing by the rules. I like to know where my parameters are but then prefer to push these as far ‘out’ as I possibly can – obviously without causing any stresses or breakages. A “10 minute presentation followed by 10 minutes of group discussion” becomes, I had hoped, a 5 minute presentation followed by 15 minutes of group discussions… but there is no flexibility to allow this (even though I try to get my students to “think outside the box”, to “push boundaries”, to “look beyond the set brief to ensure you can engage fully”, “think independently”, “if you can’t be really good, be really bad” (the last of these is taken from Rod Judkins’ “The Art of Creative Thinking”, 2015, Sceptre Books); another minus point against my name.

I wanted to find out if Students wanted to use Digital tools to enhance their skills and if Digital media would gradually take over from practical skills altogether. Part of the reasoning of this is my own professional practice is somewhat dated compared to younger Designers working in Theatre Design where model making and manual technical drawings are seen as old fashioned, time consuming, expensive and, due to new software, redundant. So why would I continue to teach these skills?

The Tutor in the PgCert session suggested that I could take the opposite approach and look at the necessary manual skills that Students would be able to use if they chose, but couldn’t use them if they weren’t taught them (I’m paraphrasing like a madman here)… rather than be concerned that I, as a lecturer, am fearful of not living up to the Students expectations (my own perception; not theirs) by not having the ‘necessary’ digital skills in my head or at my fingertips then I am letting them down, I am a failing lecturer. So; what’s wrong with manual skills? how many students want to learn them? How many students have enough independent thought to work out what they need to learn, how they want to learn it, have the patience to learn it, enthused enough to want to learn it?

This has turned my SIP from front facing to now mirror and question my own self doubts about what I teach and why I teach it.

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