As I read over Gardner’s chapters on the ethical and respectful mind, I noted how students today are really losing touch with other cultures both within our borders as well as outside of them. I then began thinking about a way I could incorporate and encourage these areas within my classroom. Then it hit me. These students are learning about graphic design, the principles of design, elements of design, typography, etc, but they have little understanding of where it all began. Graphic design in its earliest forms is as old as man first appearing as symbols on rock walls in places where the first humans were known to have existed.

I think it would be great to break the students into groups. Each group would be assigned a specific period of time period to research how graphic designed progressed as well as what uses it had during that time. The students would focus on the expansion across the various cultures of the world, as well as how graphic design uses varied throughout the cultures. It would be important for them to focus not only on the positive influences graphic design has had, but the negative impacts as well (propaganda, slander, symbols of hate, etc). This would allow students to analyze ethical vs. unethical uses of graphic design throughout history. Each group would then create a digital story including images, narration, and audio showcasing their time period. At the conclusion of this project, each group would present their digital story to the class in order of their time period. In a sense, what we would have created is a digital media time-line. Students would be able to see how graphic design progressed throughout the time periods of each group as well as how the uses for graphic design varied throughout cultures.

This assignment would accomplish several things within the ethical and respectful minds. For one, students would have a better appreciation for how truly advanced the cultures of this world have been (and currently are) in terms of their ingenuity and creativity. Many cultures had established a graphic design system as a formal language long before the written word (I would bet most students are unaware of this). As the digital time-line progressed, students would see how cultures adapted and changed graphic design to meet their needs (from early communication, to a currency system in some cultures, to modern day advertising).

I feel as if sometimes students become a bit close minded in terms of their own culture. They just assume everything revolves around them and their culture. Some might even have nationalistic views in that they feel that America is everything in the world, when in fact there are MANY advanced cultures and influential people throughout the world. The advancement of man throughout time knows no boundaries. The tools, materials, and technology that we use today all had their origins spread throughout the world, and I feel that students should gain a better understanding of them. Graphic design is just one portion, but it’s an area that does truly spread throughout the sands of time and across cultures. It hasn’t always been used for the betterment of mankind (ethics), but nonetheless, it has had worldwide impact, and that’s an important step in helping students develop their ethical and respectful minds.

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