Students need to take risks in order to learn

Remove the risk factor from education and what do you get? Learning with prescribed outcomes. This may be all well and good for some subjects, but art and design?

Surely the true nature of this type of learning is centred in “If I do this, then what”? You could argue that learning through risk is central to good design education.

Nobody would argue against safe practice when it comes to circular saws, band saws and so on, but insisting that glue guns have passed safety regulations and forbidding students to use their own, unless they have paid to have them tested by the institution – as is the case at the University of Hertfordshire – is taking things rather too far.

Likewise preventing foundation students from working with potentially dangerous materials is equally patronising.

Let us credit our students with a certain amount of common sense and responsibility and go back to studios packed with potentially lethal combinations of materials, tools and equipment and untrained, uncluttered, inquisitive, inventive minds.

Qona Rankin

Senior lecturer

University of Hertfordshire

London W4

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