Print vs Digital & Power in Listening

Since late August 2023, Graphics and Printing Technology and Communications instructors across Michigan have been in several meetings after school and on weekends.

These often include lively debate. As a participating designer and instructor, to understand each opinion, I do a lot of listening. I hear: 

  • People with 30+ years of teaching, and people in their first few years
  • People with experience in print shops, and people with experience in design agencies
  • People who notice updates in the design industry and are eager to introduce new ideas to the curriculum, and people who are passionate about how things have “always been”
  • People who have full print shops within their classrooms, and people who have a simple laser printer
  • People who dismiss AI, and people who embrace AI
  • People who are fearful of losing their jobs to various suspected threats (new technology, other teachers, changing requirements for teachers)

These individuals of highly varying experiences and opinions are members of a committee tasked with reviewing and renovating the standards of CIP Code 10.0301 Graphics and Printing Technology and Communications. As a group, we are: 

  • Creating competencies
  • Identifying and recommending industry recognized credentials
  • Gathering employer feedback and validation of recommended credentials
  • Creating Perkins Courses aligned to designed competencies
  • Developing Programs of Study

This is no small feat, even if attempted by a group of people in perfect agreement on every aspect of graphics and printing. Though our work has had its share of challenges, we have accomplished a lot. 

I believe listening is a key component to the success I’ve seen in our collaboration. Too often, I can be tempted to see opinions that oppose my own as challenges to battle (though this way of thinking rarely aids in any productive outcome). In these moments, I’m learning to make a conscious decision to listen: to acknowledge experiences different from mine, to value another’s perspective, and to achieve the best possible end result for the creative students of Michigan. I find that others’ perspectives aren’t as far-out as I initially feel; opinions are simply based on significant differences in life and work experience.

The next time you’re tempted to brace against a differing opinion, I encourage you to also choose listening. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth the effort. ✨

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