University of California Santa Cruz Creative Design Thinking Reflective Paper Strategies for engaging creative design thinking literature reflectionRead 2

University of California Santa Cruz Creative Design Thinking Reflective Paper Strategies for engaging creative design thinking literature reflectionRead 2 articles and write 250 words reflection. Designerly
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Design Discipline, Open University, Milton Keynes, Bucks, UK
This is the third paper in a series being published in Design
Studies, which aims to establish the theoretical bases for
treating design as a coherent discipline of study. The first
contribution in the series was from Bruce Archer, in the very
first issue of Design Studies, and the second was from Gerald
Nadler, in Vol 1, No 5. Further contributions are invited.
Here, Nigel Cross takes up the arguments for a ‘third
area’ of education – design – that were outlined by Archer. He
further defines this area by contrasting it with the other two sciences and humanities – and goes on to consider the criteria
which design must satisfy to be acceptable must imply a
reorientation from the instrumental aims of conventional design
education, towards intrinsic values. These values derive from
the ‘designerly ways of knowing’. Because of a common
concern with these fundamental ‘ways of knowing’, both
design research and design education are contributing to the
development of design as a discipline.
A principal outcome of the Royal College of Art’s research
project on ‘Design in general education’ was the restatement
of a belief in a missing ‘third area’ of education1. The two
already-established areas can be broadly classified as
education in the sciences and education in the arts, or
humanities. These ‘two cultures’ have long been recognised as
dominating our social, cultural and educational systems. In the
English educational system, especially, children are forces to
choose one or other of these two cultures to specialise in at an
early age – about 13.
The ‘third culture’ is not so easily recognised, simply
because it has been neglected, and has not been adequately
named or articulated. Archer2 and his RCA colleagues were
prepared to call it ‘Design with a capital D’ and to articulate it
as ‘the collected experience of the material culture, and the
collected body of experience, skill and understanding
embodied in the arts of planning, inventing, making and doing’.
From the RCA report, the following conclusions can
be drawn on the nature of ‘Design with a capital D’:
Keywords: education, ‘third area’, design criteria.
The central concern of Design is ‘the conception and
realisation of new things’.
It encompasses the appreciation of ‘material culture’
and the application of ‘the arts of planning, inventing,
making and doing’.
At its core is the ‘language’ of ‘modelling’; it is
possible to develop students’ aptitudes in this
‘language’, equivalent to aptitudes in the ‘language’
of the sciences – numeracy – and the ‘language’ of
humanities – literacy.
Design has its own distinct ‘things to know, ways of
knowing them, and ways of finding out about them’.
Even a ‘three cultures’ view of human knowledge
and ability is a simple model. However, contrasting design with
the sciences and the humanities is a useful, if crude, way of
beginning to be more articulate about it. Education in any of
these ‘cultures’ entails the following three aspects:
the transmission of knowledge about a phenomenon
of study
a training in the appropriate methods of enquiry
an initiation into the belief systems and values of the
If we contrast the sciences, the humanities, and
design under each aspect, we may become clearer of
what we mean by design, and what is particular to it.
DESIGN STUDIES vol 3 no 4 October 1982 pp. 221-227
vol 3 no 4 October 1982
the phenomenon of study in each culture is
in the sciences: the natural world
in the humanities: human experience
in design: the man-made world
the appropriate methods in each culture are
in the sciences: controlled experiment,
classification, analysis
in the humanities: analogy, metaphor, criticism,
in design: modelling, pattern-formation,
the values of each culture are:
in the sciences: objectivity, rationality,
neutrality, and a concern for ‘truth’
in the humanities: subjectivity, imagination,
commitment, and a concern for ‘justice’
in design: practicality, ingenuity, empathy, and
a concern for ‘appropriateness’
In most cases, it is easier to contrast the sciences
and the humanities (eg objectivity versus subjectivity,
experiment versus analogy) than it is to identify the relevant
comparable concepts in design. This is perhaps an indication
of the paucity of our language and concepts in the ‘third
culture’, rather than any acknowledgement that it does not
really exist in its own right. But we are certainly faced with the
problem of being more articulate about what it means to be
‘designerly’ rather than to be ‘scientific’ or ‘artistic’.
Perhaps it would be better to regard the ‘third
culture’ as technology, rather than design. This ‘material
culture’ of design is, after all, the culture of the technologist – of
the designer, doer and maker. Technology involves a
synthesis of knowledge and skills from both the sciences and
the humanities, in the pursuit of practical tasks; it is not simply
‘applied science’, but ‘the application of scientific and other
organised knowledge to practical tasks…’3
The ‘third culture’ has traditionally been identified
with technology. For example, A N Whitehead4 suggested that:
‘There are three main roads along which we can proceed with
good hope of advancing towards the best balance of intellect
and character: these are the way of literary culture, the way of
scientific culture, the way of technical culture. No one of these
methods can be exclusively followed without grave loss of
intellectual activity and of character.’
I think it is no accident that a fundamental reconceptualising of
design has emerged from a project, such as the Royal College
of Art’s, related to the development of design in general
education. Our established concepts of design have always
been related to specialist education: design education has
been preparation of students for a professional, technical role.
But now we are exploring the ways and the implications of
design being a part of everyone’s education, in the same ways
that the sciences and the humanities are parts of everyone’s
Traditionally, design teachers have been practising
designers who pass on their knowledge, skills and values
through a process of apprenticeship. Design students ‘act out’
the role of designer in small projects6, and are tutored in the
process by more experienced designers. These design
teachers are firstly designers, and only secondly and
incidentally teachers. This model may be defensible for
specialist education7, but in general education all teachers are
(or should be) firstly teachers, and only secondly, if at all,
specialists in any field.
To understand this distinction we must understand
the differences between specialist education and general
education. The main distinction lies in the difference between
the instrumental, or extrinsic, aims that specialist education
usually has, and the intrinsic aims that general education must
have. It is perfectly acceptable for architectural education, say,
to have the instrumental aim of providing competent designers
of buildings, but this cannot be an aim of general education.
Anita Cross8 has pointed out that, ‘Since general education is
in principle non-technical and non-vocational, design can only
achieve parity with other disciplines in general education if it is
organised as an area of study which contributes as much to
the individual’s self-realisation as to preparation for social
Whatever government ministers or industrialists may
think, the aim of general education is not the preparation of
people for social work roles. In a sense there is no ‘aim’ to
general education. Peters9 claims that:
It is as absurd to ask what the aim of education is as it is to ask what
the aim of morality is… The only answer that can be given is to point
to something intrinsic to education that is regarded as valuable such
as the training of intellect or character. For to call something
‘educational’ is to intimate that the processes and activities
themselves contribute to or involve something that is worthwhile…
People think that education must be for the sake of something
extrinsic that is worthwhile, whereas the truth is that being
worthwhile is part of what is meant by calling it ‘education’.
Educational criteria
According to Peters the concept of education is one which only
suggests criteria by which various activities and processes can
be judged to see if they can be classified as ‘educational’.
Thus, giving a lecture may be educational, but it might not be if
it does not satisfy the criteria; a student design project may be
educational, but also might not be.
Peters suggests three principal criteria for education,
the first of which is that worthwhile knowledge of some value
must be transmitted. This first criterion seems straightforward,
but actually raises problems of defining what is ‘worthwhile’.
The example offered by Peters is simplistic: ‘We may be
educating someone while we are training him: but we need not
be. For we may be training him in the art of torture.’ Deciding
what is worthwhile is obviously value-laden and problematic.
We might all agree that ‘the art of torture’ hardly counts as
worthwhile, but what about, say, ‘the art of pugilistics’?
However, ‘the arts of planning, inventing, making and doing’
(to draw on Archer’s definition of design again) are presumably
clearly recognised as ‘worthwhile’.
Peters’ second criterion derives from his concern
with the processes by which students are educated. He
stresses that the manner in which people are educated is just
as important as the matter which is transmitted9:
Although ‘education’ picks put no specific processes it does imply
criteria which processes involved must satisfy in addition to the
demand that something valuable must be passed on. It implies, first
of all, that the individual who is educated shall come to care about
the valuable things involved, that he shall want to achieve the
relevant standards. We would not call a man ‘educated’ who knew
about science but cared nothing for truth or who regarded it merely
as a means to getting hot water and hot dogs. Furthermore it implies
that he is initiated into the content of the activity or forms of
knowledge in a meaningful way, so that he knows what he is doing.
A man might be conditioned to avoid dogs or induced to do
something by hypnotic suggestion. But we could not describe this as
‘education’ if he did not know what he was learning while he learned
This second criterion of ‘education’ therefore
stresses the need for the student to be both self-aware and
aware of what and why he is learning. It is a process neither of
imposing patterns on the student’s mind, nor of assuming that
free growth towards a desirable end will somehow occur
without guidance. Education must be designed deliberately to
enhance and to develop students’ intrinsic cognitive processes
and abilities.
Peters’ third criterion derives from the consideration
that: ‘We often say of a man that he is highly trained, but not
educated. What lies behind this condemnation?… It is…that he
has a very limited conception of what he is doing. He does not
see its connection with anything else, its place in a coherent
pattern of life. It is, for him, an activity which is cognitively
Peters concludes from this consideration that
‘education’ is related to ‘cognitive perspective’, which ‘explains
why it is that some activities rather than others seem so
obviously to be of educational importance. There is very little
to know about riding bicycles, swimming, or golf. It is largely a
matter of “knowing how” rather than of “knowing that”10 – of
knack rather than understanding. Furthermore what there is to
know throws very little light on much else.’
This is therefore a challenging criterion for design
education, since design is often regarded as a skill, perhaps
something like bicycle-riding, swimming, or playing golf.
Indeed, elsewhere we have used Ryle’s distinction between
‘knowing how’ and ‘knowing that’ to emphasise the role of
‘know how’ in design3. However, I would now accept Peter’s
suggestion that:
An ‘educated man’ is distinguished not as much by what he does as
by what he ‘sees’ or ‘grasps’. If he does something very well, in
which he has to be trained, he must see this in perspective, as
related to other things. It is difficult to conceive of a training that
would result in an ‘educated’ man in which a modicum of instruction
has no place. For being educated involves ‘knowing that’ as well as
‘knowing how’.
So to satisfy this third criterion of ‘education’, simple training in
a skill is not enough. One is ‘trained’ as a designer, or doctor,
or philosopher, but that alone does not make one ‘educated’.
I have considered Peters’ three criteria for
‘education’ at some length because it is important for the
proponents of design in general education to be able to meet
such criteria. It entails a fundamental change of perspective
from that of a vocational training for a design profession, which
is the only kind of ‘design education’ we have had previously.
Design in general education is not primarily a preparation for a
career, nor is it primarily a training in useful productive skills for
‘doing and making’ in industry. It must be defined in terms of
the intrinsic values of education.
The interpretation of ‘education’ that Peters has
developed, then, stresses its intrinsic merits. To be educated is
of value in and of itself, not because of any extrinsic motivating
factors or advantages it might be considered to offer, such as
getting a job. In order to justify design as a part of general
education, therefore, it is necessary to ensure that what is
learned in design classes, and the way it is learned, can meet
these criteria. We have to be able to identify that which is
intrinsically valuable in the field of design, such that it is
justifiably a part of everyone’s education and contributes to the
development of an ‘educated’ person.
The claim from the Royal College of Art study of ‘Design in
general education’ was that ‘there are things to know, ways of
knowing them, and ways of finding out about them’ that are
specific to the design area. The authors believe that there are
vol 3 no 4 October 1982
designerly ways of knowing, distinct from the more usuallyrecognised scientific and scholarly ways of knowing. However,
the Royal College of Art authors do little to explicate this belief
in designerly ways of knowing. They do point out that ‘it would
not do to accept design as a sort of ragbag of all the things
that science and the humanities happen to leave out,’ but they
are less than precise about what design should include.
Design must have its own inner coherence, in the ways that
science and the humanities do, if it is to be established in
comparable intellectual and educational terms. But the world of
design has been badly served by its intellectual leaders, who
have failed to develop their subject in its own terms. Too often,
they have been seduced by the lure of Wissenschaft, and
turned away from the lore of Technik; they have defected to
the cultures of scientific and scholarly enquiry, instead of
developing the culture of designerly enquiry.
So what can be said about these ill-defined
‘designerly ways of knowing’? There has, in fact, been a small
and very slowly-growing field of enquiry in design research
over the last 20 years or so, from which it is possible to begin
to draw some conclusions.
Design processes
For example, a number of observational studies has been
made of how designers work. These studies tend to support
the view that there is a distinct ‘designerly’ form of activity that
separates it from typical scientific and scholarly activities.
Lawson’s studies of design behaviour, in particular, have
compared the problem-solving strategies of designers with
those of scientists.11 He devised problems which required the
arrangement of 3D coloured blocks so as to satisfy certain
rules (some of which were not initially disclosed), and set the
same problems to both postgraduate architectural students
and postgraduate science students. The two groups showed
dissimilar problem-solving strategies, according to Lawson.
The scientists generally adopted a strategy of systematically
exploring the possible combinations of blocks, in order to
discover the fundamental rule which would allow a permissible
combination. The architects were more inclined to propose a
series of solutions, and to have these solutions eliminated,
until they found an acceptable one. Lawson has commented:
The essential difference between these two strategies is that while
the scientists focused their attention on discovering the rule, the
architects were obsessed with achieving the desired result. The
scientists adopted a generally problem-focused strategy and the
architects a solution-focused strategy. Although it would be quite
possible using the architect’s approach to achieve the best solution
without actually discovering the complete range of acceptable
solutions, in fact most architects discovered something about the
rule governing the allowed combination of blocks. In other words,
they learn about the nature of the problem largely as a result of
trying out solutions, whereas the scientists set out specifically to
study the problem12.
These experiments suggest that scientists problemsolve by analysis, whereas designers problem-solve by
synthesis. Lawson repeated his experiments with younger
students and found that first-year students and sixth-form
school students could not be distinguished as ‘architects’ and
‘non-architects’ by their problem-solving strategies: there were
no consistent differences. This suggests that architects learn
to adopt their solution-focused strategy during and presumably
as a result of, their education. Presumably, they learn, are
taught, or discover, that this is the more effective way of
tackling the problems they are set.
A central feature of design activity, then, is its
reliance on generating fairly quickly a satisfactory solution,
rather than on any prolonged analysis of the problem. In
Simon’s13 inelegant term, it is a process of ‘satisficing’ rather
than optimising; producing any one of what might well be a
large range of satisfactory solutions rather than attempting to
generate the one hypothetically-optimum solution. This
strategy has been observed in other studies of design
behaviour, including architects14, urban designers15, and
Why should it be such a recognisably ‘designerly’
way of proceeding is probably not just an embodiment of any
intrinsic inadequacies of designers and their education, but is
more likely to be a reflection of the nature of the design task
and of the nature of the kinds of problems designers tackle.
The designer is constrained to produce a practicable result
within a specific time limit, whereas the scientist and scholar
are both able, and often required, to suspend their judgements
and decisions until more is known – ‘further research is
needed’ is always a justifiable conclusion for them.
It is also now widely recognised that design
problems are ill-defined, ill-structured, or ’wicked’17 They are
not the same as the ‘puzzles’ that scientists, mathematicians
and other scholars set themselves. They are not problems for
which all the nec…
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