tirsdag 21. mai 2013

Life changing or career building; or; it all comes down to proverbs about fish

There is apparently an ongoing discussion within education about what skills one should teach students. Specific technical skills or learning attributes and soft skills?

I am from an old fishing town on an island. Fostered up on proverbs about fish and sea and boats, here's what I think:

Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll never go hungry.

If you give a student the fish, which in our case translates to teaching a student specific technical skills and spoon-feed the student too much, the student does not learn to “fish.” Fishing, in the case of us game art students, would be learning to teach yourself. Maybe a student’s skillset is good for a specific job, but when his skill-set is outdated, which it inevitably will be, he’ll have to learn something new. Then it is better to be the student who knows how to teach himself new things, than it is to be a spoon-fed technician.

When I was trying to find a course that would fit me, I was trying very hard to avoid the sort of course that is too specifically tailored towards games and 3D. I chose game art at DMU because it seemed to have a heavier focus on fundamentals, good craft and general knowledge than a lot of the other courses I looked at. I think it was a good choice; I’ve learned fundamental knowledge which I can adapt to use in many design and art fields, with some learning and trying. Fundamentals like colour theory will work the same way whether it’s a painting or a low poly or next gen game environment. Anatomical knowledge is useful whether your tri-budget is 2500 or 10 000. Design fundamentals and elements will stay the same, too. Drawing is a valuable tool no matter what you’re doing. Planning is always essential. Teach us those things. We’ll figure out the software.
This is me figuring out software

We were given the tools to teach ourselves 3Ds Max. In our first game production lesson we were taught how to extrude faces from a cube to make a blocky church-shape. Then Heather told us to bugger off and figure out how to make a dalek on our own. We didn’t just learn Max, we also learned how to go approach learning new software. So I learned 3Ds Max. Then I taught myself Zbrush when I needed that, and UDK and CryEngine when I needed to do that. Me and another group member basically taught ourselves how to use Adobe After Effects in a day while editing a fly-trough, and we didn’t bitch and moan because we hadn’t been taught it. During the group project I taught myself a tiny bit of simple coding so that I could get some animated rats to work properly. If there’s something I don’t know how to do, I’ll just learn it. It might take a while but I'll come out in the end, a lot more knowledgeable.
Baby's first Dalek. 

With a wish to enter an industry like the game development industry, where technology is improving rapidly and studios use a variety of different tools, I am very glad to have learned how to teach myself new things, because I don’t have to be worried because I’ve learnt current gen approaches while the industry enters the next gen. And I don’t have to be afraid that if I have a change of heart and decide to go into something other than games, I won’t have a choice because games is all I know.

I’ve learned flexible skills during this course and I feel like it’s laid a solid base for me to expand upon. Having been spoon-fed technical skills is a lot weaker base.

I am happy that I’ve been taught to fish, instead of being given fish on a silver plate.

help me how do I peel this fish

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