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How One Man Learned More About Himself Through Teaching Early Learners

How One Man Learned More About Himself Through Teaching Early Learners

When Dean Vipond, a graphic designer in West Yorkshire, U.K., was asked to speak about his job to a classroom, he could not have guessed that he would be asked to speak to a classroom of four-year-olds. But when he did, he did not regret it one bit.

"[I]t turned out to be an interesting exercise in boiling down what you do, to its most basic elements," he said when describing his experience on 

In order to explain the basics of his profession, he first had to get his young audience on the same page about what design itself is.

To do this, he simplified design into its most basic definition: "Design is about making something easy to use, or easy to understand."

He then explained different kinds of designers- building designers, book designers, game designers, even toilet designers. By the end of his explanation, he was able to play a game with his audience to see if they could tell the difference between things that are designed and things that aren't (they knew a puddle and a squirrel aren't designed, but a car and a book are.)

Next: explaining graphic design. "I use colors, letters and pictures to help people understand things," he said.

Vipond explained to his audience how colors impact how people view things- like using red and blue to denote hot and cold. The kids understood when looking at an image of a faucet that red reminds them of lava and the sun and blue reminds them of ice, so red makes them think hot and blue makes them think cold. Here, they began to understand the basics of graphic design in using colors and abstract concepts to relay concrete ideas.

"So, we’d covered color, and the other thing I wanted to talk about was words. I talked about how signs tell us important things, and the words need to be easy to read," he said.

Vipond used children's books with different lettering to show the kids how the various fonts and placement of words can relay different meanings. When he showed them the word "fast," and then that same word italicized, they agreed it "felt faster."

After Vipond's instruction, he felt confident that he had successfully taught his four-year-old learners the basics of graphic design. But the young class weren't the only ones who learned something from the exercise.

"I was surprised by two things: how readily most of the kids understood what design was for, and how they can express things through it; and also, for someone who specializes in explaining things to a target audience, how it took me doing a talk to children, to force me to confront my own profession, and explain its value in clear terms," Vipond said.

Read the full story here and comment with your thoughts below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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