Creating fashion professionals for the 21st century : a tale of pedagogical tensions and emerging challenges

Bridgstock, Ruth S., Brough, Dean, & Thomas, Adrian (2012) Creating fashion professionals for the 21st century : a tale of pedagogical tensions and emerging challenges. In Fashion Tales 2012, 7-9 June 2012, Milan, Italy. (Unpublished)

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The ‘Fashion Tales’ Conference identifies three fashion discourses: that of making, that of media, and that of scholarship. We propose a fourth, which provides a foundational base for the others: the discourse of fashion pedagogy. We begin with the argument that to thrive in any of these discourses, all fashion graduates require the ability to navigate the complexities of the 21st century fashion industry. Fashion graduates emerge into a professional world which demands a range of high level capabilities above and beyond those traditionally acknowledged by the discipline. Professional education in fashion must transform itself to accommodate these imperatives.

In this paper, we document a tale of fashion learning, teaching and scholarship – the tale of a highly successful future-orientated boutique university-based undergraduate fashion course in Queensland, Australia. The Discipline consistently maintains the highest student satisfaction and lowest attrition of any course in the university, achieves extremely competitive student satisfaction scores when compared with other courses nationally and internationally, and reports outstanding graduate employment outcomes.

The core of the article addresses how the course effectively balances five key pedagogical tensions identified from the findings of in-depth focus groups with graduating students, and interviews with teaching staff. The pedagogical tensions are: high concept/ authenticity; high disciplinarity/ interdisciplinarity; high rigour/ play; high autonomy/ scaffolding; and high individuality/ community, where community can be further divided into high challenge and high support. We discuss each of these tensions and how they are characterised within the course, using rich descriptions given by the students. We also draw upon the wider andragogical and learning futures literatures to link the tensions with what is already known about excellence in 21st century higher and further education curriculum and pedagogic practice.

We ask: as the fashion industry becomes truly globalised, virtualised, and diversified, and as initial professional training for the industry becomes increasingly massified and performatised, what are the best teaching approaches to produce autonomous, professionally capable, enterprising and responsible graduates into the future? Can the pedagogical balances described in this case study be maintained in the light of these powerful external forces, and if so, how?

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ID Code: 56746
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: pedagogy, fashion design, creative industries, higher education, HERN
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > DESIGN PRACTICE AND MANAGEMENT (120300) > Textile and Fashion Design (120306)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Design
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Institutes > Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 The Authors
Deposited On: 31 Jan 2013 22:41
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2013 22:42

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