Quest University, Canada – An Approach to Interdisciplinary Education

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Dr. David J. Helfand, President, Quest University Canada:

Labor market analysts predict that university graduates today will have at least three careers—not three different jobs, but three quite distinct careers—in their working lifetimes. Why, then, should a university “education” take place in “programs” with a specific focus and culminate in a “major” defined by a departmental silo holding the prescribed knowledge of a single discipline? It is, no doubt, of some value to study a subject deeply, but should this be the approach to an undergraduate education—those precious four years when, for once in a lifetime, one is free to do nothing but learn?

We too often confuse education with training. The Latin, educare —to rear —stems from educere—to lead forth. To stride out into the world and to grow. Not to jump over hurdles, carefully spaced at equal intervals on a circumscribed track.

Now, I am all in favor of training. When I pick a surgeon, I want one who has done the operation I require a thousand times. The same with a car mechanic. And, yes, when I am looking at applications to my PhD program in astrophysics, I want potential students to have some training in the techniques of physics, computer programming, and mathematics. But most of all, I want students who are curious, who can make unexpected connections, who are passionate about learning more — who are educated, preferably in an interdisciplinary way.

Why don’t most universities work this way? Because it is hard and discomforting and time-consuming and disruptive. Most university faculty are the ultimate in specialization; they have spent ten or more years to earn a PhD, progressing along a path which inevitably leads them to learn more and more about less and less (with the obvious accompanying danger that they might end up knowing everything about nothing). Universities are structured in a manner that reinforces the worst aspects of this training, setting up narrowly focused departments to compete against each other for resources and prestige. The unsurprising result is that efforts to reach across disciplinary boundaries —to mount joint courses, start trans-disciplinary programs, foster inter-departmental research projects — are often discouraged or even punished.

At Quest University Canada, the country’s newest university, we have made a conscious effort to remove these barriers to interdisciplinary education. We have no departments, just a faculty devoted to educating (rather than training) curious and passionate undergraduates. We also have no majors.

More at What are the benefits of interdisciplinary education? | Erudito.

Interdisciplinary Education at University of Chicago Law School

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011



Potential students visiting the Law programme at University of Chicago see this text. It explains what is meant by, and the benefits of, Interdisciplinary Education:

Chicagos devotion to interdisciplinary inquiry is as old as the school itself. It grows out of our conviction that the law does not exist in a vacuum; we can understand the law and legal methods only if we understand both how the law affects the behavior of the society it governs and how the law reflects the values of that society. For this reason, students do not study law as an autonomous discipline. Faculty draw students attention to insights from the social sciences, the humanities, and the natural sciences beginning on the first day of class. Faculty members include historians, economists, philosphers, and political scientists, and each year several Law School classes are cross-listed with other departments of the University. While Law and Economics was the first interdisciplinary field for which the Law School became famous, our curriculum demonstrates that students and faculty forge ahead in many other disciplines as well.

See our list of Interdisciplinary Academic Programs to get a better feel for some of the different areas of inquiry in which we engage.

via Interdisciplinary Education | University of Chicago Law School.

The list of interdisciplinary law programmes is finite: International and Comparative Law, Law and Economics, Law and Philosophy, and a Legal History Programme. They don’t seem to allow students to explore outside these pre-determined areas, but for Law and Philosophy, after a required first year course there is “a wide range of electives available to law students with philosophical interests”

The International and Comparative Law programme appears to be based on elective choice: “The Law School offers an expansive and well-rounded curriculum with over 170 elective courses, including more than 30 electives in international and comparative law” (link).

This approach is an interesting one: allow students to select their electives and depending on the number of credits from a specific area, name the degree accordingly? This is similar to the Open University’s approach in the UK: students can study for an “Open” degree, or named degrees. Students wanting a named degree need to ensure a certain amount of credit comes from a prescribed list of courses, some compulsory (as with the “Elements of Law” course above) and others optional.

My teaching philosophy

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Recently I received an award for teaching excellence from my university, nominated by students for the second year running which is (it goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway) quite an honour. Anyway, I was asked to give a short presentation to colleagues on my “teaching philosophy” which caused me a few problems! I thought I’d post the presentation and some thoughts …

Conversations with a hairdresser


I hate getting my hair cut. I don’t know why, I just do. It could be the whole trying to articulate what it is you want. When I used to go to a barber I discovered I could simply say "Number two round the back and sides, nice and short on top" and have done. Nowadays I go to a salon which is about five times more expensive but I don’t think I’m being judged quite so much by all the other blokes sitting around talking about football and cars.

One of the drawbacks of going to a salon is that I have to say what I want in more interesting language, usually involving the word “choppy”. I have no idea what it means in the context of hair but it sounds like I know what I’m talking about which, when you’re a novice in a world of experts, is quite important I think. I’ll come back to that later but for now, the main reason I’m starting with this particular metaphor is that I’m not the chattiest of customers.

When I used to go to barbers they would never talk to me. Perhaps I sent out clear signals that if asked if I’d seen the Arsenal match the night before I’d not have a clue what they were talking about, so they just saw me as a quick way to make a tenner without having to exercise their mouth. (Just realised that could be read in diffferent ways, oh well that’s your mind coming up with your own metaphors now. How rude.)

But a salon is a different place. They want you to come back. They’re trained to put you at your ease. They talk to you about stuff (and have a remarkable memory for what you told them last time). I’m getting better at it, but I’ve come to realise that one of the reasons I go to a salon rather than a barber is because if I go to the same place and get the same stylist then because they remember what I said last time I only get asked my least favourite question once.

The inevitable question


"So what do you do?"

I hate that question. It’s not because I don’t know what I do, it’s because it’s very difficult to explain in a word. Sum it up as “I teach” and you’re not really doing it justice. It’s a huge source of frustration to me and many colleagues in HE that the act of “teaching” is so misunderstood. The belief that we just give lectures, or that “contact time” is the measure of quality, or that we’re “out of touch” with “the real world”. Actually don’t get me started on the whole real world thing. Why is someone who works in advertising said to be living in “the real world” while someone working in academia isn’t? Or someone researching a cure for cancer? Doesn’t make sense.

Anyway, let’s put it like this. I could say “I teach students, I counsel them, ensure they’re fit and healthy and are getting help if they need it, I listen to their problems, I advise them, I sit on committees, I manage other people, I juggle finances, I hold the fate of several hundred people in my hands, I travel the country and occassionally the world, I advise politicians, I work with industry, I write new courses, I assess existing ones, I occasionally have time for a cup of soup at lunchtime and if I’m lucky I go home early so I can sit at home and carry on doing it, into the wee small hours and over the weekend in return for which I get to wear pretty much what I like, get a few extra days’ holiday if I get the time to take them, and if I’d had the good sense to have been born 20 years earlier would be in a job for life I could retire from early on a big pension, but I didn’t so I don’t.”

So really, it makes more sense just to say I teach. That way I still get my hair cut.

A rock and a hard place


There’s another problem though with what I do. I usually say “I teach” because there is still a chance that the person I’m talking to has some respect for teachers. But notice I don’t say I teach at university. Because no one knows what they do. And there’s a chance the person cutting my hair has no particular regard for university types, though I am of course stereotyping there. Let’s just say that in the past I’ve had to endure monologues from various barbers about student layabouts, waste of taxpayers’ money or some such subject while I sit in silence hoping they’re keeping an eye on where my ears are.

If I make the mistake of saying what I teach, well I might as well grab the scissors and do it myself because “design” is universally misunderstood. “Oh I wanted to be a designer” is a common reply but that’s okay. “My ten year old brother does that” is slightly less acceptable. “Is that where you make stuff all day?” they might say, confusing me with their school Craft, Technology and Design teacher (or whatever they’re called now) who looked after all the thick kids who couldn’t quite manage the complexities of more demanding subjects such as, well, anything.

I got out of design partly because I was fed up with the fact anyone I worked for thought they were the actual designer and I just controlled a mouse. Little did I know I was swapping that particular profession for the only other one that everybody thinks they can do as well, if not better than, the experts.

All of which probably combines to convince you that I really don’t like teaching, that I find it enormously stressful, and am just one big cynic about both my profession (education) and my subject (design). Well, some days, yes that’s true. But we all have days like that (or months, sometimes).
Truth is, there are times when something happens to make you remember why you do it. And it’s actually not the profession or the subject which I’m frustrated with, but the things that get in the way – the politics, the lack of vision, the reluctance to change, the limited view of students, the protectionism… it’s only a minority but the problem with the moaners is they get you down and they never shut up. And then one day you wake up and realise you’re starting to moan yourself – just like I’ve been doing now!

You have to have a sense of irony in this business otherwise… there’s nothing.

The wrong thing


I’ve been teaching design for around ten years now, and I came into it via a route that was rather different from most other people I know. For one thing, I didn’t go to art school so I never went through the same education as my peers. For another thing, as I’ll mention later, I didn’t go to university in the conventional sense. So I arrived in design education without any of the tradition of "art school", or indeed of full-time educational institutions.

I think, in many ways, that has been a huge advantage. My first day of teaching involved me helping to assess work from the previous year. My new colleagues explained to me how they did it: they found a piece they thought was an A and put it at one end of the room. Then they found something they thought was a fail, and put it at the other. Then they arranged all the others in some sort of order. To them, this was logical. It was the way they’d been assessed around 20 years earlier. To me it was… well, a little strange. I had no teaching qualification at that point (in fact, when I asked for staff development to get one, everyone thought I was mad), hadn’t encountered concepts such as learning outcomes or assessment criteria, but I knew somehow that this was wrong. It was my first experience of how not having gone through a traditional art school education meant I wasn’t trapped by tradition, but I also learned very quickly that questioning tradition would get me in to a lot of trouble.

Education, and design education in particular, is very proud of its tradition but very bad at being able to see what is really a bad habit.
Within about a year I’d somehow been promoted from green-around-the-gills lecturer to programme leader of a National Diploma, HND and a BA programme all at the same time and quickly set about making some changes to the way they were organised and run.

The right thing


I realised recently that I don’t see myself as delivering a “thing”. “Design education” is seen as an entity that exists and is delivered, pretty much the same way it’s been delivered for decades. There are certain things that have to be covered, and certain ways in which they are done. After all, it worked for the people who are teaching, so it must work for everyone.
What’s odd about this is that one of the models of design education frequently cited is The Bauhaus. I still see the famous Bauhaus model in its circular graphical representation brought out at conferences and in proposals for new courses, or explanations of existing ones. And I find it rather ironic.

The Bauhaus was established on a principle of revolution. The first aim of those who set it up was to throw away everything that had been done before. They were fed up with the decades-old (actually centuries-old) model of art education that had somehow been adopted by craft and design and decided to start again. Everything went, and in its place came a philosophy that at the time was rather radical.

Today it’s nearly 100 years old. It’s not radical. It hasn’t grown. It certainly hasn’t accomodated new disciplines or practices. To take just one example: Trying to get computer-aided design or new ways of visualisation into the Bauhaus model is impossible because the only way to do so is change the model, and no one wants to do that. So what changes is what’s being taught – students are told to fill their sketchbook before they touch a computer, because that’s how we were taught, and how we might approach this “new” technology – which completely ignores the way that people who’ve grown up with these things use them (look at this YouTube video of a 2-year-old using an iPad for the first time.

Design education is still obsessed with “drawing” when designers actually “visualise” – the two are very different, but you’ll have to look far and wide to find anyone teaching design who’s prepared to stop life drawing classes and focus on something a bit more modern. I realised a long time ago that I sketch on computers. Occasionally I go away and draw a layout, but most of the time I use the screen as my sketchpad. Quite what drawing naked women has to do with that, I don’t know. But suggest to some people that design students don’t need to spend hundreds of hours drawing people in strange poses and you’d think you’d insulted their mother or something. It’s odd. We have our sacred cows. And yet this is supposed to be a “creative discipline”. Drawing someone is not creative if the ultimate aim is to understand them. And design is about the latter, not the former.

If the people who established The Bauhaus came back today and saw hundreds, if not thousands, of little Bauhauses all over the world they wouldn’t be honoured, they’d be appalled. Because the spirit of constant revolution, of constant self-interrogation, of taking things apart and rebuilding them, died the moment the Bauhaus model was created.

The approach designers should be taking towards design education is not one based on replicating and preserving a tradition, but of innovation, experimentation, or risk-taking. Curiously these are the very principles we claim lie at the heart of the design process itself. Yet we don’t practice them. We shouldn’t be delivering a design education, we should be designing a learning experience. One that is flexible enough to suit the many different approaches students will take not just on our courses but throughout their lives.

And the first thing that has to happen in that design process is to understand how people learn.

A mental map


This is a map/ Of course it looks like a constellation but what it really is is a map of how I see something that in reality is extremely complex – pretty much how we look up at the universe around us and let our brains make pictures to help us make sense of it.

The map in more detail


In fact the map is how I saw Dundee a few weeks after I moved to the city to work at the university. I was fortunate enough to have about ten days to explore my new home before having to start work but in all that time I generally wandered between home and town, and the station to go to Edinburgh (my first time). The airport I sort of knew where it was as I’d flown in and had journeyed by taxi to my new flat. In my first week or so I was invited to a colleague’s house for dinner and that got added.

I also visited an industrial estate to buy a new bike and that’s not on this map because even though I walked there I honestly couldn’t say where it was (and a few weeks later I walked in what I thought was the opposite direction and suddenly found myself in the same place…)

My point is that if you ask anyone to draw you a map of their environment, they’ll give you something fairly basic with the landmarks being the places they go most frequently, and the routes as simple as possible.

My map of Dundee


If I take a satellite image of Dundee and obscure everything except the routes I walked and things I saw, you can see that most of the place is black. I had assumed, in doing this, that I could show how, over time, my knowledge of the city improved and the black areas got uncovered. But surprisingly, it didn’t happen. There are still large parts of Dundee that are an utter mystery to me, but others I am very, very familiar with – to the point that I could tell locals things about their history they don’t even know themselves.

The real map of Dundee


This is everything else. Dundee – or most of it. It is far more complex than anyone who lives there could even know – even those whose jobs depend on them knowing where everything is. For example a taxi driver may know the location of each and every street, but does he or she know what goes on their? Do they have to? (Interestingly, this taxi driver skill is often referred to as "the knowledge", certainly in London where a cab driver’s license is only granted after being able to demonstrate an intimate understanding of the connections between each and every street in the vast city).

So what’s my point? Why am I showing you this?

Because a mental map is a good way of understanding how people learn, while a satellite-based map is a good example of how much of our approach to education thinks people learn.
Imagine we were running a course on Dundee. It would start at some arbitrary point, let’s say the top left corner, and explore that area in depth. You’d find out everything there was to know about that particular sector of Dundee and, when you’d demonstrated you’d learnt it, you could move on to the next sector.
Now that’s very thorough. It makes sure nothing is missed out. But imagine if you look down a road and say “what’s over there?” Under this approach, the teacher would say “you’ll find out one day”.

What if you wanted to get from the top left hand corner to the railway station and then across the Tay to Fife? Under this approach you wouldn’t be able to do that until the very end of the course, when you wander in to the bottom right hand side of the map.
And what if you were in a sector of the map that wasn’t particularly relevant to where you ultimately wanted to be? Or had forced you to stop looking at the area you were in just now? Tough luck. We have a plan. We call it a curriculum, a body of knowledge.

Putting things in context


Those of you who know Dundee will know that it’s built around two long-extinct volcanoes, the “plugs” of which form two large hills. The largest of these is known as Dundee Law. It took me nearly a year before I finally got around to climbing it and I’m glad I did because I was able to see Dundee and everything surrounding it, north towards the Cairngorms, west towards Perth and Glasgow, east out to sea, and south across the bridge to Fife. I took lots of photos, this one included, and stared for an hour or more. I could see abandoned mills that I’d only heard about, and see where they were in context to everything else I knew. The industrial and social history of the city suddenly meant so much more and some of the things I’d walked past but never really noticed, began to make a lot more sense. I could see how the two bridges to Fife, the rail bridge and the much more recent road bridge, were more than just marvels of engineering but fundamental shifts in the way the people, the region and even the country operated. And I could see a small village over on the far left, on the corner of Fife, that I thought looked like a nice place to live. So I moved there.

This is how I see education. Get to the top of the hill, take a look around, see how everything relates, then head towards what interests you the most.

How we teach


The way we teach now (and I’m talking mostly about design education but others may see this reflected in their own disciplines) is like a paint by numbers set. If you’ve ever done one of these as a child you will remember the process. You take paint pot number 1 and fill in any space with a 1 inside it. Then you do 2. Then 3. And so on. You have to be really careful not to go over the lines. 1 and 6 should never mix, for example. And you have to let each bit dry, and wash your brush thoroughly, before going from one colour to another.

At the end you’ve got a wonderful picture, it makes you feel almost like a real artist! But what have you learned? Nothing. Could you go away and paint your own picture without all the numbers and lines? No. Could you work out how light and shadow operate? What about perspective? Could you explain why the woman is smaller than the man, or the curtains so big? No.
You’ve completed the picture, but you’ve not learnt how to paint. It’s a literal waste of time, something to keep you occupied at the time but it won’t occupy you for much longer after that.

How we should teach


This was a much more interesting way of learning to paint. Any kid who grew up in Britain in the late 60s/early 70s would have seen Rolf Harris doing his famous large-scale portraits with his decorator’s brushes and pots of paint while singing away and talking to the crowd. The fun for the audience was trying to guess what the painting would be (“can you tell what it is yet?”) and there always seemed to be a magical moment where a seemingly random hotchpotch of colours and shapes would, with the addition of one or two lines or highlights, transform in to something instantly recognisable.

This was painting as fun, and I learnt far more about the process of painting watching Rolf Harris than I ever did doing a paint by numbers kit. This is learning as "see what happens", "try it out", "give it a go", "zoom in", "zoom out", "come back to that bit later", "ooh that wasn’t quite right", "ah now it makes sense".

The problem with the undergraduate curriculum


So let me try to explain how all this makes up an approach to teaching. And I’m going to describe something I think is the biggest crime of the university education system: the concept of an “;undergraduate” curriculum.

We all teach "subjects" and these exist within something called "a field". So imagine your subject as a physical field, with your students placed in the middle of it. Their job is to spend four years grazing in that field until they’ve covered every square inch of it.

Where are my lecturers?


Meanwhile, their lecturers are like the shepherds who appear every so often to give them a bit of sustenance, make sure they’re in the right bit of the field, and maybe take the best ones off to a show for the odd rosette. There is a slaughterhouse metaphor hovering uncertainly around here but it’s best we leave it where it is.

When the lecturers aren’t in the field with the students they are, in theory, out somewhere else developing new knowledge. The field – the subject – is in fact growing, but the bit the sheep are allowed to feast on is the same one their pedecessors were in. They may, if they’re lucky, get a glimpse at those other areas, but chances are they’ll remain completely oblivious to what it is their lecturers are getting up to when they’re not actually in plain sight.

The myth of the squeezed curriculum


These new areas of knowledge are treated like new fields that the students mustn’t wander in to. I’ve heard people talk about the curriculum being in danger of being “squeezed” and people refusing to let go of things that really could be let go. If they’re important they’ll survive, but they’ll survive because they deserve to, not because they’re being forced upon students. For example, we don’t teach our students in Latin anymore, but Latin still exists as a university subject. We don’t teach our students religion as a matter of course, but there are plenty of courses in religion available. Knowledge and skills won’t die just because they stop being part of the undergraduate curriculum – in fact they may thrive and develop because the people who take them up are more committed to understanding them rather than just passing the assignment.

Getting left behind – what we really mean by “experience”


And all the while they’re growing, tantalisingly close to the original field but never quite overlapping it.

Employers often talk about graduates lacking "experience" which is pretty silly. Of course they do. They’re graduates, not 20-year veterans of the sector. What they really mean is lack of "knowledge" and as I’ll point out later, that’s not lack of knowledge of how to do things, but of things’ existence. I remember asking students if they knew who the candidates were in the US presidential election. Very few did. Some didn’t even know there was an election. Now of course, I wasn’t teaching a course in US politics and they weren’t studying the subject so you may say “who cares?” Well we all should. What these students were doing was filtering out anything that wasn’t “relevant” to their course. It goes much deeper than American elections, of course. Students didn’t know there were new regulations on packaging coming in because that’s nothing to do with design, right? Wrong. They didn’t know that there was a fuss over mixed wards in hospitals, or a crisis over cleanliness on wards, because those have nothing to do with design. Wrong again.

The students were acting as students will, if their courses – and industry’s expectations – are based on the concept of “experience” in a narrow set of skills, rather than “awareness” of context. It’s the view from the hill versus the view from the street again. The former is contextual and easier to grasp, the latter is situational and detailed but difficult to relate to different circumstances.
If we fence our students in to one subject we prevent them contextualising, or even valuing contextual knowledge. And we paradoxically ensure they demonstrate a lack of experience because they are unable to link A to B when a situation requires it. The employer sees this as a lack of experience because they can do it, because they have 20 years or more experience. But only experience can make you experienced. In the meantime what you need is context and, buzz phrase coming up, "transferable skills".

Setting up the barricades


And we set up little gates or barriers to make sure that no one can accidentally get from one field into another unless they have the right qualifications. A bachelors degree may get you into one of them as a postgraduate, but choose wisely because if you find yourself in the pink field and later decide you want to be in teh blue one, you’ll need to requalify to get there…
Pierre Bourdieu wrote eloquently on this in Homo Academicus, when he talked about how academics – like all experts and professionals – establish rituals and rules to ensure that only those who play the game can get in. It helps us preserve our prestige, makes us impenetrable enough that people assume we must be doing something frightfully important and worthy of continued support.

The role of the "expert"


But to our students there’s a risk that we come across like gun-totin’ land-owners determined to keep people off our areas of special knowledge. Especially undergraduates.
And that irritates me. It has no place in higher education and it particularly has no place in a research-led institution.

An important point


Part of the problem is that we are the experts. We know our area too well and we also know how we got there. If it worked for us, it must work for them, right?
We are also, in some cases, bound by external requirements – things that students must know how to do in order to qualify as an architect, an accountant, a dentist and so on. And our natural response to this – and the obvious expectation – is to produce a linear curriculum of things that students must learn first, then stuff they can do after that, then after that and so on, while all the time we are presumably engaged in developing our discipline in new and exciting ways.

We’re the ones who break everything down in to a time line or a hierarchy. But for our students it’s all new and potentially exciting. But if they have to wait four years before they can do the exciting bit, we risk boring them. And we also risk holding them back.

In design we have a concept known as rapid prototyping where we start making things quickly, get something out there that people can touch, play with, break. We learn from it, they learn from it. This is how I approach teaching. I don’t lock the exciting toys away in a cupboard until the students have learnt how to bash the square peg in the right hole. Nor do I put them in the glass cabinet so they can see what awaits them once they learn that the triangle won’t go through the circle…

Teaching and learning: what's that?


I don’t show them the toys at all. I scatter them around and let them find them, try them, discard them, come back to them later once they realise what they do.
Do you remember that Christmas when your family got a new board game and you opened it and got all the pieces out and then someone, probably your dad, insisted on reading out the rules. Remember how dull that was? Remember how difficult it was to follow? Remember ever just not bothering, and playing with the pieces the way you imagined you should? How exciting was that? And then, at some point, you began to figure out the rules, maybe looked at them again, waited for everything to click in to place – and then you beat every single one of your family and became so good that everyone vowed never to play it again and it ended up in a charity shop?


Just me then.

Well anyway, that’s how people learn. Or how some people learn. But traditional approaches to teaching at undergraduate level don’t allow it. The trouble with the phrase "teaching and learning" is it assumes one leads to the other. It doesn’t. You were never taught what red was, or green. You just scribbled. You were never taught the difference between hot and cold. You just put it in your mouth. You were never taught that cats scratched you. You just poked them with sticks until you discovered it for yourself. This is what we forget. Learning by discovery is the most natural thing in the world and yet we don’t really do it. Because we have a "curriculum", a line starting at "simple" and ending in "complex".

A Wanderin' Minstrel, I


I think students should be allowed to wander all over the place. It’s like walking to the top of the hill and taking a look at everything, pointing at something interesting and saying “that’s where I’m going next!” The act of doing it, and the journey taken, are acts of learning in their own right. Finding out it’s not as interesting as it seemed is learning. Discovering it’s much better… that’s learning too. Seeing something else somewhere different, or even deciding to turn round and go back to where you started, they’re all learning.
And treading the dirt and the seeds from one field to another helps mix things up a bit.

And here’s the best bit. Letting the students talk about what they’ve discovered when they meet their friends again is one of th most important acts in learning and one of the simplest we can make happen, whether by reducing contact time, and so increasing talking time, or by developing peer support, or building it in to assessment as we do in Design Studies… I can’t give you figures but I can tell you what I know: simply reducing the number of lectures and increasing the amount of socialisation in the curriculum has improved our students’ grades and commitment immensely. Because if someone tells you to go somewhere and do something it’s never as much fun as being asked to choose your own adventure.

Tourists or explorers?


Moving this particular metaphor on, what sort of students do we want? And which would be the most exciting to teach?
Do we want to be coach tour guides, sitting them all in the same place and telling them all to look out of the window at the same thing at the same time? Or do we want to set up base camp and let them wander around? I find teaching the latter type of student far more interesting than the former. And I think they find my course a bit more interesting too.

Walking before running


I have to admit, my philosophy isn’t universally popular with some colleagues. I get comments along the lines of "my students don’t know who William Morris is" to which my response is "they will, if they need to".
I used to run a course that gave every single student a two hour lecture on William Morris, and an essay question that about a fifth of them would choose. And I bet you a year later I’d get the complaint that “none of them know who William Morris is”. Because that method of teaching is dull and rewards immediate performance.
My approach is to give students the skills they need to be able to find things out. Someone mentions William Morris to you? Don’t shrug your shoulders and say “dunno”, use those skills you learnt to go to the library or online and find useful, reliable informationt that you are able to connect to other things you know…

I remember when I first started teaching. I was running adult evening classes in Photoshop and had taken over the course at the last minute. The notes from the previous lecturer were basically a “recipe” list. Each week he’d show students how to do something different, like a chrome button for a web site (it was the early 2000s, they were “in”). Then the next week he’d show them how to do a glass button. The next week how to etch something in stone. At the end of the course the students would be able to do all those three things, but they wouldn’t be able to use Photoshop. That’s because he hadn’t let them explore layers and blending modes. If a client came up to them asking for an image that looked like a bird had walked in snow, how would they do it? They couldn’t, because they didn’t have the recipe. But if they’d learned about blending modes and seen how they were used to create depth, they’d be able to work it out.

I could show you how to play Silent Night on the piano. But there’s a big difference between being able to play a particular tune and the ability to improvise on cue. And learning how to play Silent Night does not teach you how to improvise.

Quality Control? No thanks


Our students aren’t vessels that need to be filled to the right level with the right stuff. There’s a difference between quality assurance and quality control. A restaurant turns out 100 meals a night, all of high quality but all different. McDonalds turns out over 1000, all the same quality, all the same. If a customer in a restaurant wants their meal a bit different, the chef can do it even if they’ve never done it before. If a customer in McDonalds wants their burger without pickles, it breaks everything.

But wait a minute, I hear you saying. There are some things a student needs to know before they can do other stuff, if only for health and safety reasons! And yes, you’re right. I wouldn’t advocate letting a first year medical student take out an appendix on day one, but neither would I keep its existence a secret for four years while they practiced cutting things open then sewing them back together again. That’s the trouble with metaphors. They’re not intended to be taken literarally.

Key philosophy No. 1


What I’m advocating is not new. We’ve all heard the phrase "give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for life". This is my philosophy.

The problem with tradition


I said earlier that sometimes I regretted choosing design education as a career as they were both the areas that people thought they knew about, more so than the experts.
But there’s another reason: education and design are two of the most traditional and conservative disciplines around. If medical education had progressed at the same rate art and design education have over the past 100 years, we’d still be watching our insides being carved open because the chloroform hadn’t soaked in to the cloth.

My philosophy has been, and is, to innovate. People call it change, like it’s a dirty word, but innovation and creativity are at the core of everything we teach and practice. If design thinking cannot be the underpinning aspect of our own practice as educators, how can we hope to teach it to our own students?
My teaching philosophy certainly involves taking risks but it never involves me leaving a job and proudly saying the best thing I achieved was to change nothing. Universities don’t exist to maintain the status quo, and nor does design.

I am a teacher and a student


I didn’t go to a traditional university, and I didn’t go to art school, which means I wasn’t brought up within a set of traditions and expectations. I was a self-taught designer and I studied part-time for my degree and Master’s with the Open University, an experience which undoubtedly helped shape my own approach to teaching. I studied a range fo subjects from maths to Shakespeare, from educational psychology to Beethoven and I rbegan to realise that the act of studying for a degree is the thing, not the subject learnt. I approached it in such a way that I could connect things that were seemingly unconnected, and develop new ideas. My degree wasn’t a license to practise as a “thing” – a mathematician, a dramatist, a teacher or composer. But it did license me to learn (to use Charles Handy’s phrase) and that made me employable. I think some parts of industry have it very, very wrong when they say graduates don’t know “things” when chances are, like I said above, they actually did cover it, but never learnt it, and the reason they never learnt it is because they were in fact only required to cover it! What they don’t know how to do is to carry on learning.

I hold this idea high. We’re here to teach people to learn, not to perform. I have learnt more about design teaching it than I ever did doing it. If I ever end a lecture, seminar or tutorial not having learned something myself, I feel it’s not been a good session. And I continue to study. This year I’m studying Mandarin and Statistics. The process of being a student is fascinating – I find myself understanding what it’s like to have deadlines, other pressures, to not quite understand something, to have something click in to place, to not know why I am learning something…
I recommend it to every teacher: take a course. Be a student.

Key philosophy No. 2


And all this brings me to my true philosophy. I am a designer through and through in that I can’t stop tinkering, making changes, improving and experimenting. It is creativity and innovation with a clear goal in mind: to interest people in things they never thought they could ever be interested in. And for them to take that and infect someone else either for the pure hell of it, or because it makes a real difference to someone. Whether it’s a jewellery student creating a piece that allows an individual to express the inexpressible to their loved one, or another to develop a way of helping someone who cannot talk to communicate their needs to people in everyday situations. Both equally valid, both closely related, both requiring different paths to arrive at the same place.

If I ever put my ideas before a committee I’d never get them going. That’s how design works. You test your ideas out, but you don’t ask a panel to give you permission because that’s when innovation dies. And anyway, it’s easier to seek forgiveness than permission.

Bear baiting and cock fighting (aka US journalism)

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

The last couple of weeks of The Daily Show have been particularly good – some sort of end of term feeling, perhaps? Or maybe it’s the increasing frustration with the absurdities of the health care debate in the US (especially the bizarre claims about the UK’s NHS which, incidentally, isn’t even the model that’s being proposed for the US).

Anyway, it’s good to see someone in the US media call the “death panel” idiots out on their claims. It’s a shame it has to be a comedian on a cable channel.
Here’s the difference between UK and US journalism:
In the UK, someone makes a bizarre claim. Journalists investigate it and if it’s loony they ignore it (and make a note not to listen to that person again). If there’s something behind it, they report the story, not the claim.


In the US, it seems, the claim itself is the story. Irrespective of whether there’s any substance to it. Just get that person on camera and let them make their claim, then ask someone to respond. It’s like bear baiting, or cock fighting. Except the journalists are the owners, setting up a fight for the entertainment of the audience.
Where’s the analysis? Where’s the fact checking?

I’ll tell you where: it’s on the Comedy Channel! How screwed up is that?

What Jon Stewart and his team do is invite people on to the show and instead of simply letting them repeat their claims, they ask them for evidence. Or present them with reasoned, logical arguments. He did it with Bill Kristol recently and got him to admit that military health care for veterans was excellent – that would be government-run health care.

He also pointed out that a discussion on cable news about health insurance was sponsored by an insurance company. But not a health insurance company – no, a car insurance company. The irony being that it is illegal to drive in the US without insurance, but not illegal to have no health insurance.

Here’s Stewart interviewing Betsy McCaughley, who identified the “death panels” in the health care bill. Except that when she’s asked to show where it mentions those, she can’t. She points to how doctors will be evaluated on their use and adherence to statements from patients about “life sustaining treatment” which as Stewart points out could mean “keep bringing me back no matter what” rather than mandatory “do not resuscitate” instructions.

Something Stewart points out but which is lost in the general melee is that “end of life counselling” was actually introduced by a certain George W Bush. It was seen as a great idea back then – allowing people to make their wishes known to avoid burdening loved ones with dreadful decisions or putting people through long and painful but ultimately futile treatment. But that was then. A Republican was in the White House. Now we’ve got a Kenyan Nazi (apparently) who wants to ship anyone over 60 off to the gas chambers.

Apparently that’s what we do here in the UK. Really?

Er, no. Far from having death panels, and poor health care because of the NHS, the UK not only has a better life expectancy than the US but the number of 100-year olds is steadily rising to such an extent that it’s no longer a big news event when someone reaches their century, as it was when I was a kid.

“Babies born nowadays in the UK are expected to live to the age of 100, while it is predicted that the number of centenarians will increase from the present-day total of 10,000 to 1million by the year 2074”

Compare “death panels” with the current denial of care that exists in the US, as covered in this fascinating but depressing story.

Or, for an uncomfortably funny/despair-inducing few minutes, watch as Jon Stewart tears apart the “death panel” argument with logic rather than rhetoric.

<td style='padding:2px 1px 0px 5px;' colspan='2'Betsy McCaughey Pt. 1
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Healthcare Protests
<td style='padding:2px 1px 0px 5px;' colspan='2'Betsy McCaughey Pt. 2
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Healthcare Protests

Most of the images of “town halls” I’ve seen have shown politicians standing dumbfounded in front of the (somewhat organised and well-briefed, if wrongly briefed) critics. You really want them to say simply that their concerns are unfounded.
All praise to Barney Frank who had the guts to go one step further:

Interns – something needs to be done

Friday, August 14th, 2009

I’m getting more and more angry about the subject of design internships and the bizarre excuses that many in industry and, let’s be honest, education, use to excuse the practice.

Internships, also known as placements, are “opportunities” for graduates to get experience of “real world work” which apparently makes CVs look better and increases your chance of getting a job.

The trouble is, the likelihood of getting a job is much reduced as a fair proportion of work is being done by interns working for free!
Or as Tory MP Philip Hammond recently told a constituent after being asked why he doesn’t pay his own interns: “I would regard it as an abuse of taxpayer funding to pay for something that is available for nothing”1. This, unfortunately is the endless loop we find ourselves in: many people agree that internships are bad, however there are many people wanting to do them, therefore you either stick to your principles and miss out on all that lovely “experience”, or you give in.

Internships strike me as evidence firstly that the design industry doesn’t rate qualifications much, and secondly that it certainly doesn’t think “outsiders” (i.e. design educators) should be the ones to judge who’s good enough to work among its number2. To support the first argument we can point out that the majority of designers don’t have degrees – it’s not a “degree-level position” and many degree-holding designers work at the same level, for the same “salary”, as non-degree holders. In that sense, design is meritocratic – you’re valued on how good you are, not on how qualified you are.
I don’t have a problem with that. What I do have a problem with is undervaluing graduates. Other sectors don’t do it – law, retail, medicine, architecture, teaching. What sets these apart is that either they recruit graduates in to well-paid jobs with responsibility and then train them, or they require a period of high-level apprenticeship which is highly structured and leads to a well-paid career at the end of it.

The argument that graduates shouldn’t be paid because they are not experienced enough is, quite frankly, one of the most stupid fucking arguments I’ve ever heard a supposedly intelligent person make.
(And yes, I said fucking. It’s unacademic, it’s unprofessional, but it’s how I feel, okay?)
Seriously, think about it for a moment. Try this scenario:

You go to visit your daughter’s school to find out how she’s doing. You chat to the young teacher who’s in charge of her class, and who your daughter absolutely adores. She’s young and you realise you’re getting old for noticing. She talks expertly about your daughter’s progress and clearly takes a lot of interest in her, and you’re grateful. You later go to the head teacher and compliment her on the quality of her staff, making particular mention of your daughter’s class teacher.
“Oh her,” she says. “Yes, if she keeps this up we might start paying her and take her on full time. But only during term. We can’t afford to keep her on during the school holidays”.

This is plainly nonsense. It doesn’t happen. New entrants to teaching are paid a decent salary (it could/should be higher, but let’s not get in to that – the point is, they’re paid a graduate-level salary and given responsibilities. They are also mentored and given time to continue with their development. Indeed, all teachers are. It’s how people stay on top of their game.
But can you imagine if you discovered that schools were employing unpaid interns to do the teaching?

Compare that to design. New entrants are not given responsibilities, they are often not paid (and if they are, it’s often peanuts) and, ultimately, they’re not trusted. Internships or placements are trials. A company that uses them as a way of recruiting new staff is acting in a bizarre manner. It makes little sense.

When I left college at 19 I got a job as a designer/marketing assistant. I hadn’t really wanted to be a designer but this was all I could get. So I effectively taught myself on the job, having gained a bit of experience with Pagemaker at college. Three days after joining the company, because of the oddities of their pay cycle, I received a payslip for three weeks’ salary. I’d only just started, and I wasn’t even up to speed. I didn’t even know how to use the phone system, or have my own desk. Yet there I was with more money than I’d ever had before. Because I was – get this – working for them. Giving them my time in return for money. They didn’t say “hey, you’re new. We’re effectively giving you our time so really, you owe us money. So how about we just don’t pay you and call it quits?”

Which is interesting because that’s exactly how internships work.

And you know how the company knew they wanted me to work for them and not someone else? They interviewed me. Twice. They looked at my work, they asked me questions about myself. They decided I was worth a chance and knew, as I did, that if it didn’t work out, either of us could say “thanks but no thanks” and I’d be on my way.
Yes, employing someone is risky, yes it requires time and effort on the part of the employer but you know what? That’s part of running a business. Building a team, nurturing it, valuing it.

I’m going to come back to this issue as there’s much more to say but let me end this first instalment with a pointer to Seth Godin’s blog where he talks about free work versus internships.
Like me he doesn’t like internships for some of the same reasons. “Most of the time, the employer thinks he’s doing the intern a favor, but he doesn’t trust the interns to do any actual thoughtful, intelligent work worth talking about.”

He loses me with the next bit: “And to be fair, most of the time the interns are busy hiding, not grabbing responsibility but instead acting like they’re in school, avoiding hard work and trying to get an A.”

I disagree with this assessment because an internship generally is not carried out as part of a course, it’s a prelude to employment. I think he’s mixing things up a bit here. Genuine work placements, part of a course, are rare. They shouldn’t be, but it’s not for want of trying. Many of the ones I know of are just a couple of weeks’ “work experience” but a truly educational placement should be well-structured, include shadowing, not working, and be assessed. Which means the host has to be heavily involved in planning, implementing and evaluating it. And if that were the case, then anyone “trying to get an A” wouldn’t do it by “avoiding hard work”. For one thing, they shouldn’t be working. That, after all, would be a case of the taxpayer subsidising free labour for the design industry, and in England and Wales, and other countries where students pay fees, it would be a case of the poor bastard literally paying to be “employed”. But really, if Seth’s first point is correct, that many employers don’t trust people on placements, then I really couldn’t blame anyone for not giving 100% in return. You get what you pay for, after all.

But Seth goes on to talk about the concept of “free work” like it’s something else entirely. Now I have long advocated “free work” to my own students but I mean working for non-profits – local groups, charities, schools etc – as a way to give something back to the community and to get something in your portfolio. I would never advocate working for nothing for a company that can not only pay you, but is getting paid themselves. Seth seems to excuse it by its networking potential or karmic value – but you can network without selling your soul. It’s this passage that really caused me to spit out my dummy:

“But you’d be amazed at how many fast-moving companies or influential individuals are all too happy to share credit if it helps the work get done.”

As I twittered to Fergus Bisset, ‘he says companies will “share credit”. Wow! Thanks! Er, why not the money then?”‘
If the argument is that a start-up needs help, and that if they’re successful you will be too fails on a simple logic test: if that start-up is going to be successful you can bet your life they don’t do it by doing free work for people. So why should you?3

And this ultimately boils down to the best argument against internships. I’ll discuss the social impact of internships and the legal implications another time, but let me leave you with this: if the company you are working for is making money from the stuff you produce, they should be paying you. There is, as far as I can see, no reasonable argument against this. To do otherwise is theft, plain and simple. And something needs to be done.

[end of part 1. Coming soon: why internships are unfair and why they are illegal]

Update: as you may see from the comments, as well as Interns Anonymous, you can also discuss internships at The Water Cooler

1For what it’s worth, I made a complaint about Mr Hammond to the Low Pay Commission. Phil Willis MP is, quite rightly, raising the issue on his site and via a press release.

2Easy answer: stop recruiting graduates and start recruting school leavers and run proper apprenticeships! Oh you used to do that. What happened? Oh yes, you “subcontracted” the role to colleges, funded by taxpayers, and saved the money didn’t you? Trebles all round, as Private Eye would say.

Why eBooks must fail

Monday, July 27th, 2009

John Naughton, writing in The Guardian, identifies excellent reasons why eBooks must fail:

I own my copy of Nineteen Eighty-Four and can do with it what I wish. I can, for example, lend it to friends, family and students. I can, if I wish, tear out pages and send them to people in the post, or stick them up on noticeboards. I can sell the book – if I could find a buyer. I can donate it to the local Oxfam shop. I can read sobering or inflammatory passages from it at political demonstrations. And so on.

But if I had purchased an electronic copy of Nineteen Eighty-Four to read on my Kindle device, I would have none of those freedoms


Up to now, the debate about eBooks has been dominated by technical issues: ergonomics, portability, storage capacity, the readability of display screens, the quality of the user interface and so on. These are important matters, but ignore the biggest issue of all, namely the ways in which the technology enables content owners to assert a level of control over the reader that would be deemed unconscionable – and unacceptable – in the world of print.

He’s right – designers tend to focus on the aesthetic and affective aspects – how useable is the technology, how open is it, does it replicate the “experience” of reading a paperback… but the real “experience” of reading a book is bound up in the tactile and the social. Lending a book to someone – or even just saying you’ll lend it to someone, is an important part of reading.

All the hoo-hah about Amazon deleting books and tracking what you do with what you buy aside, the real issue with eBooks is that all the focus and research has gone into the technology and completely missed what it means to read a really good book.


Critical Response to Art Projects

Monday, July 27th, 2009

It’s a dirty little secret in art and design education that the beloved routine of the “critique” or “crit” doesn’t work. Although many tutors cling to it as an essential way of providing guidance and feedback, plenty of research has shown that it leaves the vast majority of students confused and, in some cases, distressed (trust me, I’ve seen the tears – and from normally “tough” students).
The only purpose the crit appears to serve is to emphasise the tutor’s status as alpha male (or female, but it’s usually male).

The crit was wonderfully lampooned in “Art School Confidential” by Daniel Clowes (transferred moderately well from comic book to big screen in 2005).

The big problem with crits is coming up with things to say. From my observations they have to sound profound, critical and completely vague and meaningless so that what a student thinks is “encouraging” can later be claimed to have been a warning of dire consequences. And with so many students these days, it’s becoming much more difficult to come up with something new.

What we need is a tool to create endless amounts of critical responses to art projects (CRAP) from a few random seeds. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the CRAP generator!

Click the green button to start!

Disclaimer: the words come from a document circulating among staff at the university I worked at, and I don’t know who wrote them (I added some of my own).

Incidentally, if you’re interested in the research I mentioned, drop me a line and I’ll send you a list. It’s interesting that I’ve never found one bit of research that suggests the crit is a positive experience for anyone other than the person doing it.


Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Some photos from Tentsmuir that I took a couple of years ago.


Onto the dunes

In case you skipped the link in the last post, here’s the official website for Tentsmuir, a large nature reserve about five minutes from where I live. It has everything – seals, sand, forest, deer, red squirrels, rare flowers, rare insects (and their not so rare or lovely cousins, unfortunately), an icehouse, world war 2 pill boxes and anti-tank defences, an RAF airbase…

The odd cat…

Cat waiting for mice in the undergrowth

African plain - in Scotland

Beginning of the bog

Well worth a visit if you’re in this (pardon the pun) neck of the woods.

You can see some of my photos of the area on my other website

Accidental bike ride

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Tayport to St Andrews and back
Find more Bike Rides in Fife, United Kingdom

I went for a bike ride the other day and decided that instead of the usual ride to Tentsmuir Sands through the forest near where I live that I’d head on to Leuchars. But when I got to Leuchars it felt too easy so I decided to carry on – to St Andrews (home of golf!)

The weather was pleasant and warm, I had plenty of water with me and even thought I’d never cycled that far, or that way, before I reasoned that as I was on part of the national cycle network I couldn’t really go wrong (plus I had my iPhone with me so if I got lost I could locate myself on Google Maps).

It was a fairly easy ride through a couple of small Scottish towns. After Tentsmuir Forest it is, for the most part, a mix of small suburban districts and cycling alongside a small motorway – not much to see really until you get to just outside St Andrews when you once more begin to see the coast.

What was odd was that even though I’d cycled quite a long way, all I’d done was cycle inland a bit, following the estuary, cross the bridge and then cycle east again, which meant that just as I was reaching the outskirts of St Andrews I could easily see RAF Leuchars across the water, which made my achievement much less impressive!
(Cycling near the RAF base is quite impressive as aircraft regularly come in to land. Last week at the beach I’d seen about four or five come in to land in close formation, sweeping out across the North Sea and back in again. On this ride two flew just a few hundred meters – if that – above my head – again in close formation. RAF Leuchars lost a plane a couple of weeks ago when it flew into a mountain near Glasgow and even though it looks like they’re going slowly from the ground, it must be a case of split-second timing inside the cockpit).

Anyway, just as I was reaching St Andrews I could see dark clouds looming from the south and realised why all the cows had suddenly started lying down when I was cycling through the fields just outside Leuchars. It began spitting at first but as I got in to St Andrews a steady drizzle started. Fortunately I’d packed my raincoat and went off to find a café to have lunch and a sandwich.
St Andrews isn’t short of nice independent cafes but of course I ended up in Starbucks! As it turned out, I was served by one of my own students! Small world…
I could see outside that the rain was now quite bad so I went back to the bike and got my waterproof(ish) trousers out, intending to change out of my shorts. Which meant finding another café…

The cycle back was in the rain which didn’t feel so bad but when I got back to the forest I took a wrong turn and ended up getting a bit lost, finding a small group of houses and following a minor road/track figuring it must end up in civilisation. I stumbled upon a bridge standing in the middle of a clearing. It didn’t connect to anything, just an old brick bridge on its own. Turns out it used to be part of the railway line that led from Edinburgh to Tayport, back when it was called Ferryport-on-Craig and was the main route to the north. Before the Tay rail bridge was built you had to get a ferry (while still on the train). After the bridge was built the line became less important (until the bridge fell down, of course) and eventually it disappeared, leaving just the bridge standing alone in the forest. I’ll go back and take a picture next week maybe – it’s very strange.
It turns out I’d ended up in a nature reserve and in better weather I’d have gone looking for deer and highland cattle, but as it was I was now feeling rather wet and despite it only being about 4pm the light was very poor. So I kept cycling and found a row of telegraph poles and cycled under them for a while, coming out at a farm and onto the road just south of Tayport. Home at last.

When I got in I realised quite how wet I was – absolutely soaked to the skin. But feeling quite good. A few minutes later, after a shower and a change of clothes, though, I sat on the sofa and my body caught up with what had just happened…

45km or 28 miles. That’s nothing to some cyclists, of course but considering my longest ride up to that point was about 18km, it’s quite a leap. Three hours, excluding the rest at St Andrews.

So, a somewhat unplanned adventure but a good one – fairly flat and easy. I intend to do it again when the weather improves (we’ve had a week of sun and showers after a couple of weeks of hot sunshine when, of course, I mainly sat around). But I also fancy trying a few other local rides. The Salmon Run goes from Dundee to Dunkeld via Perth, following the Tay and the route the famous Tay salmon take. There’s also a ride from here to Arbroath where the Smokies are produced (I could follow that route up to Aberdeen and then on either to John O’Groats or take a ferry to Orkney, but I think that would be a bit too much!). And the route to St Andrews carries on to Edinburgh and beyond in to England. You can see all the routes in the National Cycle Network at Sustrans’s website. But all those routes are trickier, over hills and a mix of on- and off-road.

I had planned to use my holidays for this but they seem to have flown by with little achieved – which is of course the point of a break. But there’s still plenty of summer left so time to do a few of these rides yet.

Microsoft’s failed marketing strategy

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

Having staked out a business that serves PC makers first, IT drones second, and consumers dead last, Microsoft is left only to advertise that its software arrives on cheap hardware that isn’t burdened with being cool or sexy like Apple’s. As a marketing strategy, that’s so blatantly moronic that it’s hard to imagine a Fortune 500 company could decide to do that.

Roughly Drafted Magazine on why Windows 7 is Microsoft’s next Zune. It’s a long article but well worth reading. Having lived through 1995/96 it brought back a lot of memories…