A teaching strategy that promotes the development of a sense of ethics
A number of technical programs in college education include a course dealing with professional practice in the sixth session. This is the ideal time to talk about ethics in a particular field of expertise. As a teacher of Interior design and sponsor of this course for several years, the importance of this aspect led me to seek effective teaching methods. This was reinforced by the fact that, upon graduating, students today must make a crucial decision that will impact the future of their profession. Recent legislative changes have resulted in a fundamental modification to the field of practice of design and the survival of the profession depends more than ever on the solidarity of its members. In addition, the graduates’ sense of ethics may not be fully mature at a time in their lives when they must answer a crucial question, given the social, economical and political context particular to interior design, e.g. to be or not to be a member of an association of professional interior designers for the purpose of defining a field of practice and obtaining a reserved title. The activities discussed in this article were implemented to promote professional awareness and accelerate the development of a sense of ethics among students. The interior decorators of my generation did not receive a practical course for professionals. They learned certain aspects of the profession ‘on the job’, but other aspects, such as professional ethics, were never brought up during their training. A code of ethics does exist. It was introduced and drafted by the Société des designers d’intérieur du Québec (SDIC) for exclusive distribution to its members. Non-members are not familiar with this document and are not required to comply with it. As a teacher, my main preoccupation is therefore to make the next generation as aware as possible of how the design milieu functions and what’s at stake, while being able to make enlightened decisions as to the future of the profession. The need to find an adequate educational strategy was born of this concern.
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