Above all, see, feel and experience what is out there
When students graduate, they have many options. How do you get the best out of the student to make sure they do what suits them best after graduation? Positive critical feedback, stimulating and inspiring are right up teacher Sophia Bentoh's alley. "I recognise the potential, formulate my words according to the student's character, and guide on own initiative and research. This also ensures that someone does not get stuck in the concept phase for too long."
Gathering materials for archive building
The current generation of students is more hesitant and insecure than a few years ago. This is the effect of the coronavirus pandemic, which made it more difficult to gather materials because the shops were closed, for example. Fortunately, by now everything is open again and I can send students back into town with the message: go look, feel, investigate! At bookshop Athenaeum, for example: buy two magazines and feel the paper, the shape, whether it is a hard or soft cover. Or discover different packaging and fabrics. This also allows students to build their archive for the coming academic years.
What is current, what is coming up?
Developing their own signature, therefore, happens by teaching students to look at current affairs and by letting them research future developments. This inspires and helps to broaden one's outlook and take initiative. COVID-19 also caused students to linger in the concept phase for a long time; they sat at home by themselves, had online lessons and that brought uncertainty about whether it was good. Now they take stuff into the classroom as early as the first year with which they get hands-on and dabble. My own experience as a fashion designer and print designer helps with this. I was also on the editorial board of the magazine L'Offciel at the time of its launch on the Dutch market, which is valuable for fourth-year students who have to make a magazine. Think about learning to focus on the target group, the development of the product in terms of paper, typography and packaging, but also the use of multimedia.
Which subject do you choose?
As a teacher, I find it interesting to dive into a student's world and grow with them from the first to the last year towards that final step into practice. A practice that consists of many disciplines: fashion, styling, colour advice, materials, editing, photography, corporate identity design.... Getting the best out of that student along the way, encouraging and inspiring them and teaching them to deal with critical feedback and deadlines, ensures that they make the best choice, confidently.
Sophia Bentoh  teaches colour and material styling and works as a print and fashion designer [internet] sophiabentoh.com
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