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September 20th 2017

Spotlight on Design Technology

Mr Masters, Head of Design Technology, talks to us about being creative, the design process and breaking all the rules!

“Just do something. When a design problem is so overwhelming as to be nearly paralyzing, don’t wait for clarity to arrive before beginning to draw. Drawing is not simply a way of depicting a design solution; it is itself a way of learning about the problem you are trying to solve.”  (101 Things I Learned in Architecture School, Matthew Frederick).

How long have you been teaching Design Technology at BHS?

I’m in my 21st year in teaching and the start of my third year at Blackheath High. I have always had a passion for design and graphics. I did Civil Engineering for four years but realised that I enjoyed drawing more than the engineering part of my job. I also studied architecture but found it frustrating as there was little appreciation for architectural design in this country. I Iove design and have a passion for graphics. In the end, I decided to go into teaching as I genuinely felt that I could make a difference.

Tell us about DT at Blackheath High

DT at Blackheath High is quite architecturally themed because of my background. For example, our girls worked on a project based on selling an imaginary tower block in Canary Wharf. Each student is responsible for putting together a floor in that tower block including designing individual bits of furniture using 3D printers and laser cutters - they loved it. The girls have also designed jewellery, an adventure playground and a hydraulic arm controlled with syringes. I like taking my students into the unknown!

Do you have to be creative?

Design is very different from Art. Our girls are high achievers and are keen to get things perfect first time. In DT, I encourage my students to draw quickly. It is not about being perfect first time, it is about just doing something.

Being a creative thinker in any subject is important – whether it’s solving a mathematical enigma or composing a historical essay. 

What are the benefits of studying DT?

The design process can be applied to many walks of life. It is about challenging preconceptions and questioning everything. I give my students a starting point and encourage them to break all the rules which takes them in different directions. DT is about having the confidence to break the rules, show no fear and fail as fast as possible before bouncing back. This is critical as a designer and as a well-rounded person.

What is unique about DT at Blackheath High?

We have very experienced staff and a good blend of people including a practising artist with a first degree in fine art sculpture who also manufactured Spitting Image puppets and a trained furniture designer. We also have good industry links and if our students get on well, they employ them and support them through college. This is really important.

I enjoy working here a lot. It is hard work but the rewards are great. The girls here are aspirational and they want to be something. I often find myself trying to keep up with them and I love it! 

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