I like your post a lot, particularly on the matter of performance.  It
raises useful questions.  Of course, Nigel has written usefully on
design ability.  But there is a theme from rhetoric that bears on this
matter, too.

In the tradition, it is observed that some practice by natural talent
(genius), others by imitating individuals who practice well
(apprenticeship), and still others by education in the principles of an

The point holds well for design, as well.  As teachers, I think we are
concerned with the last group--those who seek out formal education as a
pathway to practice, bringing whatever natural talent they have for
development and refinement.  And our job, as teachers, is to grasp and
communicate, as best we can, the principles and their application.

The problem of design teaching is related to, but not the same as, the
problem of design research--and doctoral study.  


Excerpts from mail: 29-Sep-100 Re: Design Knowledge ... by
> Dick,
> It was the end of the day and sorry that I was being a pain in the
arse towards
> the design research community and stir things up again, but I never realized
> Rhetoric had the two meanings, checking out MSN Encarta gives this
(see below) -
> I have always felt that No. 2 & 3 is the take on rhetoric in general,
> rhetoric at court was seen as a good skill in earlier times, and
underlines the
> methods used in getting the message across - design again?
> 1.  persuasive speech or writing:  speech or writing that communicates
its point
> persuasively
> 2.  pretentious words:  complex or elaborate language that only succeeds in
> sounding pretentious
> 3.  empty talk:  fine-sounding but insincere or empty language
> 4.  skill with language:  the ability to use language effectively,
especially to
> persuade or influence people
> 5.  study of writing or speaking effectively:  the study of methods
employed to
> write or speak effectively and persuasively
> Reading the general posts on the design canon, etc. I am still stuck on the
> question that two individuals with the same exposure to literature and design
> 'training' and the same cultural backgrounds can be miles apart in
design skill.
> Is this a 'talent for design' that causes this?
> A library of books cannot alter this skill factor. I don't believe Starcke,
> Newson, etc have read all of this stuff and yet create great work, maybe the
> practitioners don't need to know why or how. Taste is also a nightmare, as a
> 'bearded' design critic is arguably the least equipped to deal with it.
> Glenn