At class last week our design books were due…they were to include full colour illustrations of our 5 outfits as well as technical drawings of each piece in each outfit showing all construction details. At the front of the room there was a cart on wheels with empty boxes for the collection of the design books. I arrived to class at 2 pm. (Class starts at 2:10). After dropping my stuff on the sewing machine table at the back of class where I usually sit, I went back to the front and put my design books (had to hand in two copies) in a box on the cart. I noticed students who had their drawings and fabric swatches spread out all over the tables, scrambling to get the sheets into clear plastic sleeves and get those sleeves into the two binders in front of them.
This made me nervous. At the very first class (and in the course outline) the instructors made very clear the rules for the course. All assignments are due at the beginning of class and will not be accepted late. Even 1 minute late. A late assignment is not accepted and receives a zero grade. This was very clear and the instructors said repeatedly, “do not leave it till the last minute!”.
At 2:05 when the instructor said “you have 5 minutes” the panic was palpable. Students who had already handed in their books started to help those who were struggling to put their books together. One student had three other students helping her put drawings into the sleeves and binders. At the 1 minute announcement I started to feel a little sick to my stomach. I saw beautifully rendered drawings (probably completed by a student who had been up all night) being stuffed into a binder and the exhausted student running, jumping over bags, dodging judies and fellow students to get the book to the front of the room before the cart with the boxes was wheeled out of the room at 2:10 on the dot. I think that there were two students who did not make it. So they get zero for their work on this part of the capstone.
I felt a great deal of dissonance. I know we were all warned and told not to leave it to the last minute and that assignments would not be accepted past the start of class. They knew…they did not heed the warning…lesson learned. On the other hand they had clearly done the work and with a mere additional 5-10 minutes their work could be completed, acknowledged and graded. Heartbreaking but I guess an important lesson in following instructions.
Despite the fact that I cannot pretend to meet the level of skill and talent of the students I see in class every week, I will share my work with folks who have been following along with me here…I think readers may find it interesting to see the various stages from drawing to completed garment on the runway.
Here is my 5 piece collection as illustrated in my design book.
For each look I will post pictures of the coloured sketch, the technical drawings and the test garment in muslin. In the next semester I can share the construction of the final garments in the fabrics that I have chosen.
I am just starting to get a handle on the capstone assignment for the communication students…the small group of 5 that I was assigned to met with Ben Barry our instructor last Thursday. Each of us have a research question – mine is related to ways to think about and frame our work understanding students, serving their needs, and developing programs and services to support their success. Each of us has chosen a theory or set of theories that we will apply to our research question, and gain a detailed understanding of, in preparing our capstone “creative” or final visual presentation for the exhibit that will be launched as part of Mass Exodus (the final show presenting the collections of the design students). One of the other students in my group, for example, is looking at the marketing and presentation of menswear in the context of the theory of hegemonic masculinity. My theory is “design thinking”.
Regardless of the final creative deliverable that we have planned, we are required to produce a preliminary/interim creative project to communicate our research into and understanding of the theory we have chosen and how it applies to our research question. I am really interested in the initial stage of design thinking or “empathy” and how is informs and drives our work with students.
In his book, Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation, Idris Mootee states, “Design thinking promotes empathy…it puts users at the core of everything. It encourages the use of tools to help us communicate with people in order to better understand their behaviours, expectations, values, motivations, and the needs that drive them and will improve their lives” p. 69
We could rewrite this statement for our work with students…it fits so easily….just change one word, “…the use of tools to help us communicate with students in order to better understand their behaviours, expectations, values, motivations and the needs that drive them and will improve their lives.”
This is what we do. This is what many of us have always done or tried to do or thought we were doing…but how can we teach, model, and encourage others at the institution to start the approach to their work and solving problems in the institution with the concept of empathy? Dr. Barry shared this really great video by Brene Brown about the meaning of empathy.
I am still thinking through what I will create to explore this topic more…it could be a painting, a poem, a film, a collage, a song…the possibilities are endless…I am thinking about a series of film clips of colleagues talking about empathy or an e-book version of story telling. The challenge is trying to do this and get my muslin garments sewn, do my job, take care of myself and my home. I am not sure that I can be successful at doing it all. Luckily Dr. Barry started class by reading from the book Daring Greatly by Brene Brown about being vulnerable and allowing yourself to fail as part of the process.
Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in. Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose…Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in human experience. We must walk into the arena, whatever it might be…a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process…with courage and willingness to engage…we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen.
The bottom line is…with this project and work and multiple other activities and responsibilities…my home is not going to get cleaned anytime soon…at least not by me….and I have to be okay with that.