In July of 2014 Noeline Naar, former Art Consultant in the ACT Education Dept. lost her husband Lembe and this renewed sympathetic contact with Noeline, Lola de Mar and myself over coffee sometime after resuscitated our deep interest. We had all been involved in the inauguration of the Design in Education Council Australia in the 1980s and of course we had to discuss the progress of ACARA – Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority and its understanding of design and its relative place in the curriculum.
The ACARA report appears however, to concentrate heavily on dance and music with seemingly little recognition of the role of design in everyday life – the word design is sparingly mentioned, displaying an incredible blindness to the reality of a world which has changed rapidly and dramatically during the 20th and the early part of the 21st centuries.
Regrettably, our three lives are increasingly governed by our ages, our recognition of our approaching mortality, and the amount of motivation we still have left to create action.
For my part I am very involved (at 91) in the enormous task of recording my life’s work as a designer as a record for my family to enable them to understand that what they saw in my day to day activities was only the superficial awareness of daily survival – under the surface my Portfolio has made it abundantly clear that, like the duck, there is (or was) an enormous amount of unseen activity that was driving me forward (rather than backward).
My view is that the ACARA statement is very one-eyed, largely out of touch with the effect of basic design activity which underlies our understanding of our material world.
Design is such a ubiquitous, omni-present force in our lives that, like the air we breathe, it is taken for granted, yet it determines our actions, our joys and sorrows for every second of our conscious and our sub-conscious lives with positive or negative impulses.
It concerns me deeply that, so far as our educators are concerned, they do not seem to know what they do not know and our educational system is continually ignoring an extremely valuable tool that will enable our future citizens to live happier and more healthy lives by virtue of the simple fact that they have a capability of awareness to improve life for themselves and others. Our children do not need to be turned into designers in any professional sense but they do need to be aware of its existence and its potential value if they are to come to any understanding of its critical role in society.