In light of World Teachers’ Day on the 5th October, we want to celebrate our talented and dedicated teachers at Torrens University Australia.
Our Design faculty is full of inspiring teachers who are passionate about educating students in their area of expertise.
Read on to find out what drives Interior Design lecturer, Dr Philip Whiting.
4 Things to know about Philip:
- Philip originally studied Interior Design at South Bank University, London and completed his PhD in the area of Design Thinking and the impact of design on product behaviour in Brisbane.
- Philip likes to seek out interesting thinking by his students and help them to develop their ideas, which builds their self-confidence.
- Philip references the Lord of the Rings and Avatar movies while teaching as examples of how design principles can be used to manipulate the viewer’s experience.
- Philip loves a good science-fiction book and although he isn’t a great fan of superheroes, he enjoyed reading Batman and Dr. Strange comics in his younger years.
Why did you decide to teach & what do you love most about your job?
In truth, I originally fell into teaching because an opportunity arose and it provided a more regular source of income while building my own design consultancy in the UK. Over time, I found that I was actually quite good in the role and also quite enjoyed the challenge. I have since found that I often learn as much from the students as they may learn from me; in the sense that I can see how student needs and understanding continually changes. I believe this keeps me, my approach to teaching and my actual thinking fresh and not stuck the world in which I originally studied.
So, to be honest, I enjoy all parts of my job at Torrens University and the subjects I teach, for different reasons. Although, if I had to name one thing I love most about my job, it would be teaching Design Research. Design-based research is an extremely interesting area in that it is initially “scientific” in it academic approach. However, due to the very nature of design and especially future innovation, there is a real need to introduce “intuition” and even opinion into the mix, both of which tend to be at odds with traditional academic research methodology.
What do you consider to be your greatest success as a teacher?
I think my greatest success in teaching is when a student returns to tell me how they appreciate the impact and difference I have made to their life. I, myself had a few teachers like that in the past and I refer to them in the classes I teach from time to time.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a teacher?
Those who know me well know that my other passion is motorcycles, but I also enjoy travel, so putting the two together almost equals perfection. Next to that, I love most genres of music, the theatre and traditional ballet. I now have three grandchildren and love spending time with them, so with the music, theatre and ballet I can easily involve them.
What challenges do you think design students are facing today?
I think there are so many challenges facing students today, it’s almost a case of which one do you choose? In terms of design (and music may fall into this same category), I think it is very difficult for students to come up with truly original concepts and designs simply due to the volume of designs already out there. The downside is that students tend to create variations of what already exists –good variations – but still variations. There is a need for students (and business for that matter) to truly understand the nature of innovation and creativity today and in the future. The challenge facing students is not that the ‘goalposts have moved’, but now the game is also continually changing. I see my role as helping students not to just deal with continued change in the future, but to actually utilise this volatility for everyone’s benefit.
What advice do you have for prospective students?
I used to joke that I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up and even now there is some element of truth in that. I think the key should be that you enjoy your study – that is not to say it should be easy, it will be difficult at times, but the fact you can ‘hang in’ when it does get hard, says a lot. Your head can tell you the sensible thing to do, but your heart is what provides the commitment and perseverance to continue when the going does get really tough.
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