Design to travel, travel to design

Design to travel, travel to design

Design to travel, travel to design

Foreign faculties, whether they are from the Americas, Europe or Asia that meet international standards are of great benefit to India’s students. This does not make up for the opportunity of studying abroad but it does expose students to various learning methods.

What’s more, it is quite common that international faculties already have experience working in different countries. This makes them more flexible in adapting their teaching approach to Indian students.

An international school faces one major difficulty in India. Fifty years ago, India’s yogis and swamis were in vogue. Everybody wanted to come to India like George Harrison of the Beatles to meet Ravi Shankar or any other guru. This is not the case today. Today China is in vogue.

This Middle Kingdom has gained popularity and its cost of living is lower than India’s. While one might think that language is a barrier for someone wishing to live in China, India remains one of the most difficult countries to adapt to. Foreigners do not expect Indians to be culturally different from their counterparts living abroad.

Why do Indian students appreciate foreign lecturers, what makes those foreigners different from Indian lecturers? The answer is not competence. The answer lies in the methods and learning outcomes used by international lecturers. This method is completely open and does its best to promote creativity and develop critical thinking.

Europeans and Americans broke out of the shell of the rigid ‘master/student’ relationship that went ‘by the book’ so to speak some 50 years ago. India and we might include China, have improved their textbooks but have stuck to their proven teaching methods.

Today’s Indian student is still learning the same way his father and grandfather did. After graduating from an Indian school, the student therefore feels like he is taking a breath of fresh air when he enters an international school.

From an industry perspective, it is observed that the following skills are mentioned most frequently:  

*Knowing how to learn;
*Competence in reading, writing, and computation;
*Effective listening and oral communication skills;
*Adaptability through creative thinking and problem solving;
*Personal management with strong self-esteem and initiative;
*Interpersonal skills;
*Ability to work in teams or groups;
*Leadership effectiveness
*Basic technology skills

These skills, once reserved for those in management, are now considered necessary for individuals at all levels of employment.

During the last two decades, the skills needed to succeed in the workplace have changed significantly. Technical skills remain important but, increasingly, employers recognise that it is another category of skills that is crucial to a worker’s ability to work “smarter, not harder.”

These skills go by a number of labels including:
*Soft skills
*Core skills
*Non-technical skills
*Essential skills
*Generic skills & new basics

The need now is to make courses more modular and flexible to facilitate institutions to reach international standards. India should establish links with other countries for the exchange of programmes so that curricula can be changed according to international standards.

In enhancing the educational process, the imperative need is to frame a curriculum which emphasises training skills, improves employability and challenges the frontiers of knowledge.

The curricular innovation ought to involve reconceptualisation of conventional disciplines and experimentation with interdisciplinary courses.

Some of the colleges that have an international faculty include:
*Sharada University
*Manipal University
*Raffles Millennium International
*Lovely Professional University

Look around and you will see students with the latest footwear, clothes, laptop and cell phone. The operative word here is ‘design.’ As India’s middle class grows, so does the demand for new designs. International companies compete on design. Design is a feature on a par with price, quality and service. India does not really need foreign expertise in business administration, medicine or engineering.

Because the tuition fees in international schools are higher than those in public or local private schools, the clientele tends to be wealthier. How often we see students unable to use a hammer, saw, or power tool.

Why should we be surprised if every household chore was accomplished by an outsider, from hanging a painting on a wall to repairing a leaking faucet? A product design lecturer has to train his apprentice in the use of tools while at the same time help the student break out of the mould imposed on the student by the traditional school system.

The same applies to visual communications (graphic design, interactive media) where the student has used the computer only to play video games and chat on the Internet. The overall challenge for an international school is to develop world class designers who are able to compete in a global environment. This can only be achieved by forcing the student to experiment on his own to develop his/her own skills and to test creative talent against competitors, both inside and outside the school.

This part of the challenge can be met in the home country but there are other possibilities. First, he can move around  campuses across China and South-East Asia. Then he can finish a degree in Australia.

It is only through this kind of exposure and hard work that India will enter the world of design. The ability to design is the future and this future lies in constant interaction with the outside world. Only when India has developed designers will it be able to export more than just cheap labour.

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