Thursday, March 13, 2008

The craft of problem finding

More on Richard Sennett and his new book The Craftsman....

In February this year he gave a lecture at the RSA in London on the themes of the book. This is available as a podcast and PDF transcript. Just go here and scroll down to his lecture. He presents just a few of the themes from his book, and the discussion that follows explores these further. Just to take one part of his lecture that stood out, and in a sense rationalises why craft is so essential to design education at degree level:

"The second big issue of skill that was first raised by Wedgwood and then I'm afraid stolen by Diderot is the relationship... Diderot was, I couldn’t call him a magpie but let’s say he was on the edge of magpie-like activity on the encyclopedia, was the relationship between problem solving and problem finding. Oftentimes when we think about a skill we think just about problem solving, how to get something done, how to make the pieces of wood join together or how to, if we’re a computer programmer, how to work out the logic of the lines of a piece of computer code. This is not the whole story. What Wedgwood understood and what Diderot then expanded was the notion that as we get better at problem solving we ought to also get better at problem finding, that every solution for us, at the higher levels of skill, should open up new problems, otherwise what we’re doing is simply equating skill with procedure."


Blogger Margaret said...

Great posts on The Craftsman! I mostly blog about William Morris and the A&C Movement, so craft related pieces are always of interest to me. I love the line about equating skill with procedure--so true.

In reference to your previous post, it seems that the media has been picking up on crafting a lot more recently. Websites like Etsy and others have certainly raised the profile of the craft movement.

6:02 pm  

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