Typographic Edumacators

matteson's picture

Well, TypeCon got me all fired up, so (against my nature and better judgement) I thought I might try to start a Forum for educators to discuss their particular (?) brand of problems. Maybe an "Idea Clearinghouse" of sorts. At my school, most discussions degenerate into b!tch sessions at an amazing speed. Hopefully this will be different, but perhaps there could be a special "Screaming into the Void" thread. All (including non-teachers) are welcome, of course.

I'm not sure how many of you typophiles actually are teachers - but I was surprised for some reason to realize how many folks at TypeCon were educators. So perhaps this forum has legs.

I'm fairly new at teaching - I've been at it for about 5 years now. I never had a formal design education myself. I went to grad school to study painting and linguistics; that, coupled with having run printing presses for several years, engendered my interest in typography I suppose. So here I am.

I'm probably not the best person to start or moderate a forum since I'm usually in the classroom or in unbearably stupefying meetings, but I look forward to talking to whoever may be interested.

Cheers,

Nathan

tylerg's picture

nathan--thanks for starting this forum. i think it could be a great asset and collaborative tool. i was also at typecon, but unfortunately had to leave before the education discussion. i'm very sorry to have missed that.

i guess i have two questions:

1. what was covered in the education panel at typecon?

2. what textbooks do you (or anyone reading) use for typography courses, and how do you utilize them in class?

matteson's picture

Hi Tyler. I was beginning to think I was all alone out here :-P so it's good to hear from someone. And here's my best shot at answering your questions:

(1) The Education Panel was good, but I was left wanting a lot more. Nothing against the panelists or the conference though - it was just a time limitation thing I'm afraid. It's hard to pack much into one hour, especially when you want to leave time for questions. Mostly the panelists talked about projects they use (I actually co-opted one for my beginning type students) and showed students' work. There was some discussion about the difficulties in teaching older or returning students, and students from disciplines outside of design. And about how much time people tend to spend on technical instruction vs. conceptual(?). It was great, though, seeing what other folks were doing and it gave me some ideas for rewriting parts of my school's program.

(2) Right now we're using Carter, Day, and Meggs' Typographic Design: Form and Communication. We recently switched from Martin Solomon's Art of Typography, which I hated using. I think the CDM book will work well, because it has a lot of good examples of student work. For the most part, the kids at my school have thought little, if at all, about typography. So they need quite a bit of visual information to get started - to even begin to think about letters as something with a form and a function. Most of them are here to be web designers or Photoshop jockeys, so getting them to care about type is no small feat. Getting them passionate is next to impossible.

As far as how we use the book: I pull most of my lectures out of the first 5 chapters (Evolution of Typography, Anatomy of Typography, Syntax and Communication, Legibility, and Typographic Technology). Chapter 6 is a nice collection of projects from instructors at other schools - nice to have when you realize one of your own projects is totally bombing :-) And chapter 7 is full of case studies from the commercial design world - handy when your students say "nobody really cares about this do they?" since the only type they see is the closed captioning of Paradise Hotel or the score on Tomb Raider IV. It also has a pretty good section of specimens which I use when I talk about line measure, leading, word spacing, etc.

I keep thinking about trying to use Felici as a textbook, but I'm afraid my beginning students would be lost. The amount of diagrams and illustrations in CDM really lends itself well to first year kids. Currently I'm trying to add some more type courses to our curriculum (typography is the red-headed stepchild of my school) so maybe I can bring Felici in for a couple of those.

Cheers,

Nathan

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twardoch's picture

I don't think I understand the term "edumacator". To me, the only association is "edu-mock-ator", a cheap mockery imitation of an educator.

A.

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