I should, in hindsight, consider myself quite lucky. Being self taught in my chosen field for most of my working life I have never been governed or guided by someone else's creative limitations. But if there is one thing being at University has taught me, it is the difference between learning to be a creative, being taught creativity and being allowed to grow creatively and express myself in my own unique way.
The difficulty with teaching art subjects is that your teacher will instinctively try to push their creative styles or limitations on you. I guess it's inevitable. We all have our own opinions on what art is and how to express ourselves within our chosen medium whether it be painting, writing, sewing, photography or landscape gardening (amongst many others).
Creatives are notoriously temperamental. And rightly so. We have the right to defend our skills regardless of criticism. We are drawing from within, expressing ourselves, being who we are and more fool anyone who tries to tell us how to do our own job. That's not to say I haven't found a return to education a useful experience. I've learned to do the same thing in a new direction - realised a whole new approach and this has been a good thing.
But teaching the skills (in my case how to sew on a button, grade a pattern or the best way to lay a fabric) is one thing. Critiquing and down grading a piece because it does not fit within the hosts creative abilities or to satisfy a curriculum's check list is not in my mind how creativity and design should be taught or developed within students of any age.
It is a problem I have seen in a variety of creative mediums, not just in fashion and it has been a recurring theme in the last few weeks as final third year projects are handed in and assessed and students are not necessarily seeing eye to eye with their mentors on their final outcomes. It has made for a lack lustre ending to the academic year and to be frank, has kind of knocked the wind out of my sails.
I have been advised (and I think there is something in this) that you should just keep your head down, tick the boxes and get the grades. Once your out and on your own there is noone to tell you what to do. But that isn't how creativity works. You can't cage a lion and expect him to flourish. You can't tell a creative how to be creative within someone else's terms and expect them to produce beautiful or highly individual work.
And this is frustrating because ticking all the right boxes, learning by rote and 'fitting the mould' might be fine for grades but it does not encourage creativity and it is not inspiring those people to go out into the world feeling comfortable in their own style and letting them be who they want to be.