Designing matters; designing minds: the importance of nurturing the designerly in young people

Stables, Kay. 2008. Designing matters; designing minds: the importance of nurturing the designerly in young people. Design and Technology Education: An International Journal, 13(3), pp. 8-18. ISSN 1360-1431 [Article]


Download (265kB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

Design education, at face value, is often seen as being vocational – that it is about educating the next generation of designers. But all humans are ‘designerly’ by nature. We have a predisposition to envision and create new future realities in a way that has been described as an intrinsic and defining characteristic of being human and that is vital for cultural evolution. It is a capability that exists as innate
In this paper I argue that it is a critical responsibility of educators to develop design capability in all learners at all levels of education. To do this effectively requires a radical questioning of assumptions about the similarities and differences between educating young children and future professional designers, about the nature of difference between novice and expert designer, and of the value placed on developing the designerly potential in all.

I also argue for a closer alignment between researching designing in a professional context and researching designing in younger learners as a way of bringing mutual benefit and a greater understanding of the value the designerly has, both for the individual and for civilisation. In the first section of the paper I lay out some of the concerns that have been raised, historically and currently, over the place of design education in the curriculum. I then move to explore the issues raised through drawing on a number of research projects conducted in the Technology Education Research Unit at Goldsmiths. Finally I consider aspects where research has not, so far, provided the answers and suggest where we might begin in seeking further understandings.

Item Type:



Designing; designerly; novices and experts; design education; design research.

Related URLs:

Departments, Centres and Research Units:




Item ID:


Date Deposited:

01 Nov 2010 10:51

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:29

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)