We are all here for a reason.. (apart from getting the kids through the exams) if you think like me, we are all here to prepare the students that we teach for the outside world, to prepare them for employment and life beyond the safe and predictable environment of the classroom.
In my subject ar ea it couldn’t be more important. I often get enthusiastic students wanting to be fashion designers ..in reality would they manage the workload? Is is right for me to just teach them the specification and then send them on their way blissfully unaware of the harsh reality of the REAL world!?
This has caused me some concern over the last couple of years. A career in design is hard work. I speak from experience, freelance work is difficult to sustain and then even if you manage to get the holy grail and obtain a permenant position at a high street retailer, it is often a lot less glamorous as it initially seems (I have a friend who after years of hard graft, works for a well known menswear brand designing different blue striped shirt fabrics & has to present them enthusiastically EVERYDAY!)
To support my current group of Textile lovelies I wanted to do something new, something real. To make this happen I set up a project that involved designing for a local client. I was lucky enough to be able to make a connection via email and arrange a real life experience for them. Over the last week my year 12 BTEC Textiles have presented their design outcomes to the owner of Doddington Hall (after using their summer sculpture exhibition as inspiration for fashion scarves.)
I have to say, they did me proud. A few were quite nervous with the prospect of discussing their ideas and design concepts with someone REAL. however, they soon settled in and were happily chatting away in no time.
Even though it was quite difficult, I stood back and let them take the lead. It was important for them to jump in and see if they could swim rather than me speaking for them.
On the way back to school they was a real confidence and sense of accomplishment. Even though it didn’t really give them anything in terms of their assessment, it gave them so much by building the foundations of their future careers in the design industry. This is totally something I will do again (despite the HUGE amount of paperwork to get there!) as it feels like I am doing what I am meant to do.. To fully prepare my students for the REAL world. I wish I’d had chances like this, maybe I would have had the confidence to ‘make it’ as a designer rather than being a teacher? ..who knows, at least I can try & make sure that my students are as well prepared as possible so that they can achieve whatever they want – no matter how unobtainable it may seem!