This paper reports on a project named Platform 6, which was designed to facilitate teacher development and thereby to develop teachers as scholars. Initiated within the context of Boyer’s Scholarship of Engagement (1991), Platform 6 is a training programme and awareness drive devised for secondary school design teachers on the pedagogy of teaching design thinking and practice.
The exploratory first leg of Platform 6 was limited to a sample of National Senior Certificate (NSC) schools in the Western Cape. Qualitative-exploratory research methodology was employed to gain real world insight about the teaching and learning environment of design teachers in South Africa. It was useful to understand the dynamics of design teaching in grades 10 to 12 in Western Cape schools.
Emergent central themes are that Design still receives poor recognition at secondary (high school) level, is undervalued, and the subject is stereotyped and consequently not always well supported. The most notable theme is the belief that design is a ‘soft subject’ for those ‘creative learners that struggle with more challenging academic subjects’ such as mathematics, science and biology. Although design teachers share a positive, constructive and impassioned approach to design teaching, they (for the most part) have not benefitted from professional developments in design teaching. Higher Education Institutions cannot ignore this need and as scholars of community engagement, Private Higher Education (PHE) is also obligated to contribute knowledge by paying teaching skills and knowledge forward.