Hugh Dubberly recently published an article called Models of Models where he introduces the concept of models and then breaks down the constituent parts so the reader can think about how to make and evaluate models for themselves. (hint – read the pdf, it communicates more richly than the post. the article also appears in Interactions Mag )
I was looking at this while thinking a lot about my PhD and some curriculum review that IxDA is currently undertaking with BDW. The following thoughts particularly resonated:
Passing models from one generation to the next is a responsibility of teachers and managers. Models are what students take away from school and what young people take away from early jobs. Models are what you remember after leaving.
I recently spoke with Hugh about a wide arc of ideas and histories related to interaction design, cybernetics and education. The issue of literacy (of systemic or ecological thinking) came up repeatedly, and re-reading this article reminds me to write a little about it.
If models are (as Alan Kay states) where “we do most of our work” (and I think they are) then why not teach modeling as well as models?
Let me explain. It is my belief that education is obsessed with trends; what’s relevant now? who’s hot now? what extends the canon? etc. These invariably manifest in a model of some sort; frameworks, theories, templates and protocols can all be traced back to a model. These are important to pass on. Reinvention is silly, except when it can help us understand.