John Martin

laughing through grad school
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Design

There's an old adage in teaching that suggests that one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it. I'm not sure whether or not that is true, I suspect that some experts who are in the top of their "game" (whatever it may be), actually lose some of their abilities when they step back from the perspective of "player" and start to view the activity from the perspective of a teacher. I certainly would agree that this shift of perspective helps them learn another perspective of the topic, and perhaps gives them a greater appreciation of it, but does it actually make them learn it better? I'm not sure.

Having said that, I'm a proponent of thinking things through from a design perspective. I think it's a useful thing to have people stop and think about how things are made, done, etc. And I think it's a useful activity to step into the role of a designer of things --things for ones own self, and things for others. It tends to cause a pause, a better understanding of how others might see the world -- if even in a very small way. I think this is important in times of intolerance. We need to be reminded that our own perspective is not the only perspective. I imagine that designing things, games, etc. does that in a fairly innocuous manner.

So a major strand of my research, and theoretical orientation involves design and creation of "things" -- specifically, I am interested in letting kids design versions of games for their peers, who then go on to try to make even-better games. There's a level of competition, but more importantly there's a level of creativity that I feel is sometimes sorely lacking in the consumer lifestyles that are currently mainstream.