My understanding of teaching is based on empathy, individualism and self-determination. In my opinion education enables individuals to bring forth their potential as self-determined human beings in a community and a profession. Teaching, especially in design, is always linked with responsibility, empathy and mindfulness. This is based on my deep understanding of design as a profession that is able to change the lives and behavior of human beings. This approach influences my theoretical and practical understanding of design. Transporting this understanding is deeply interwoven with my teaching and research. Moreover, an essential part of my teaching is to help students to handle success but in particular to handle throwbacks to become a resilient designer, researcher and personality. However, this educational commitment can only be modeled by a teacher whose enthusiasm is an authentic expression of her self-actualization and her believe that teaching is an essential part of her profession.
I believe that a central part of academic education is to help people to become a confident, competent and responsible member of the academic community of practice as well as society at large. This includes on the one hand making use of the research community as a source of inspiration but on the other hand to contribute one’s own expertise – e.g., by voluntary contributions as a reviewer. Being and acting as a designer is one of the central roles future design students could contribute to such a community. Especially their ability to identify open questions, to see things from a different angle, and to invent and create objects to address them is only one of the interesting sides of design. However, this does not mean that teaching is predominately based on imparting of knowledge. My understanding as an educator is to enable learners to establish intrinsic motivation and personal design positions. Above all they should become a self-determined and responsible designer that is an active member of society at large.
To me, design education is based on the conscious and responsible manipulation of society through the creation of material – i.e., designed things. This endeavor requires intrinsically motivating challenges to overcome. Student should learn how to apply phenomenological methods and tools to deeply understand people’s lifeworld in order to help them to overcome personal obstacles and to become the person they want to be. Such a deep understanding of the lifeworld of human beings needs sympathy and empathy. However, design always goes one step beyond the mere understanding and description of someone’s lifeworld – for instance in contrast to social sciences. Learners should always be encouraged to do this step. Only by materializing their concepts, objects, insights a out others, and confronting real people with their thoughts they will learn how to deal with throwbacks and success. Moreover this real world confrontation is at the heart of the normative power and responsibility of design. This needs a scope of trust, understanding and authentic guidance that is based on curiosity, playfulness, and pluralism. I try to support this in everything I say and do in teaching.