Interior Design+K-12: An Expanded Model
Teaching children about the importance of design.
By Stephanie Clemons, Ph.D., FIDEC
Television programming is generating a new, unprecedented interest in interior design as a career! Popular television shows such as "Trading Spaces," "Designer Finals" and "Changing Rooms" reveal a new phenomenon concerning young adults' interest in decorating personal spaces. "Although the show [Trading Spaces] was originally intended for adults, according to a Wall Street Journal article [October 18, 2002] titled 'The Teen-Room Makeover,' the audience has more than 125,000 viewers aged 12 to 17," states the ASID 2003 Strategic Environmental Report.That statistic indicates a new significant interest in interior design.
A dilemma exists, however. Research indicates that youth in elementary and secondary (K-12) grade levels are rarely exposed to accurate information concerning interior design as a possible career (Clemons, 2002; Portillo & Rey-Barreau, 1995). While our interior design professional organizations have spent millions of dollars to market and educate the adult public about the career, few resources have been spent to educate the youth—our future clients, design students and practitioners. In part, that has been due to a lack of information concerning how to address this complex issue and audience.
Although the body of knowledge has been developed for entry level interior designers (FIDER Standards 2000 Adopted) and beyond (National Council for Interior Design Qualification-NCIDQ), a gap exists in the interior design continuum ranging from "kindergarten to career." We need a national plan identifying how to infuse interior design content into K-12.
A National Plan: Proposed Expanded Model
In 2002, findings of a study funded by the IIDA Foundation proposed a national plan and a model (see chart below) for introducing and disseminating information to youth in K-12 (Clemons, 2002). The purpose of the study was to assess how interior design content areas could be integrated into K-12 in support of national academic education standards (Clemons, 2002). By nature, the model's features are somewhat complex to reflect the educational system of the nation.
Features of the proposed model are as follows (not listed in order of priority):
- addresses all grade levels in elementary and secondary education;
- directly supports national academic standards; including visual arts (part of fine arts) standard;
- integrates the philosophy of career preparation (formerly school-to-career) throughout all levels (Clemons, 2000);
- uses Foundation of Interior Design Education and Research (FIDER) Standards to guide development of categories for interior design content;
- incorporates the need for interior design to be linked with project-based learning;
- identifies technology education, literacy and critical thinking skills as goals for integration;
- suggests use of existing channels, such as family and consumer sciences (FCS) and the Full Science Option System (FOSS);
- offers suggestions for format of delivery of materials to K-12 students/teachers;
- offers a variety of existing distribution channels for dissemination of curriculum materials.
Many complex issues were identified when developing this model that impacts the success of interior design integration into K-12. These include state and local administration policies of national education standards, resource and budget allocation within states and individual school districts, education and re-certification of teachers, technology resources, and the continuing burden placed on teachers at the local level to perform to specific assessment standards.
This model requires refinement and additional research to develop curriculum materials that can be piloted within several states and schools. However, timing is good. Youth are clamoring for more information. Teachers and career counselors are willing to help. State curriculum specialists are interested in disseminating the information to their teachers. College students are flocking to interior design programs—finally having found the major before arriving on campus.
Excitement Of Teaching K-12 Youth
We need your expertise and assistance in sharing accurate information about the interior design career. Some of you are already discovering the excitement and fun involved in working with youth. As a practitioner, Shirley Hammond, FASID, past president of NCIDQ, truly enjoyed the time spent when she helped youth in her local school re-design the teachers' lunch room. As an educator, Jean Edwards at University of Louisiana at Lafayette, felt fulfilled when she helped high school students recycle old theatre seats by painting them as pieces of art. As students at Colorado State University, the design chapter taught three third-grade classes how to construct a Bauhaus model from triangular-shaped card-stock materials to design a personal space on a planet of their choice (in support of national academic standards). The college and elementary grade students were so excited neither group stopped talking about the experience for days!
Our lives are hectic. Our stresses are many. Given all that, it may take a shifting of priorities (Clemons, 1999). Yet, all of us contribute to our communities in various ways. We care about people. We care about our profession. We care about the upcoming generation. As recently stated, "We do research on children's behavior in designed environments; we need to do more teaching to children about design" (InformeDesign, Implications, Vol. 01, Issue 02). Our efforts now will have long-term effects in shaping the future profession of interior design.
NOTE: Funding for this research was provided by the IIDA Foundation through the support of the Lester Johnson Memorial Fund. For further information, please contact IIDA headquarters at (888) 799-IIDA concerning this research.
Stephanie Clemons, Ph.D., FIDEC, ASID is currently serving as president of the IDEC Foundation. She is an associate professor at Colorado State University and has been working with K-12 youth and teachers since the early 1990s. IDEC can be reached by calling (317) 816-6261 or via www.idec.org.