Makers in the classroom: Understanding ‘the real making of true practice’ through craft collaborations

Britta Kalkreuter, Chamithri Buddhini Greru

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There is resurgence of interest in design education in recent years, yet only a handful of studies are available on craft education, and specifically on teaching and learning methodologies exploited in class rooms (Venla Moilanen et al 2012). What might safely be assumed is that the existing art and design teaching -learning techniques in class room practices will increasingly become more complex in the context of multiculturalism. An area of specific interest is how students get associated with these vivid socio cultural discourses, and how they integrate them into their learning practices, if the efficacy of such relationships is determined by the modes of practices and the contents of instructions.

This paper brings to our attention ways in which we might change current design pedagogy in the class room context by identifying the modes of engagement students prefer, and by suggesting which instrumental approach could be used as a spring board when interacting with peer students, teachers and external artisans on a cross cultural knowledge exchange.
The study uses a twofold methodology placing students on a restricted and a non restricted design context enabling to capture the more subtle and overt practices of design, reinterpreting work when responding to cultural influences. It is part of an artists’ residency exchange programme(ReSide) funded by Creative Scotland where a group of three artisans shared their experiences of culturally rich Indian textile craft making in Kutch Gujarat with two groups of students studying arts and design in two Scottish schools.

The paper discusses methodologies employed in the workshops to study and analyse the probable outcome of students’ cognitive and behavioural approaches, level of engagement, their individual and collective learning styles including methods of capturing knowledge and materialization using their own creativity and imagination in response to the distinctive design paths they employed in capturing the cross cultural experiences.

The data gathering employed a qualitative driven approach using creative interviewing, participant observation and audio and video recording of conversations.
Findings reveal that students appreciate a freedom of choice when they engage in creative practices as they not only respond to a cultural exposure as a practice of work but that they also build links between their immediate culture and backgrounds creating an expanded awareness of construction of knowledge and practice. Whilst building a sustainable discourse on creative craft practices a new model of pedagogy could be achieved through a more haptic mode of design engagement, suggesting that spontaneity would fuel students’ lateral thinking and problem solving skills through a practiced based curriculum with wide ranging consequences for a future generation of designers.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalMaking Futures Journal
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2014


  • cross-cultural design pedagogy
  • making practice
  • discourse through craft
  • residency
  • design engagement


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