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Picture of A Different Kind of Black and White

A Different Kind of Black and White

Visual Thinking as Epistemic Development in Professional Education

Author(s): Prue Bramwell-Davis
Subject: Social Sciences

Book Description

Why should we continue to draw by hand when computers and photography can do it for us?

Freehand drawing is currently enjoying a widespread renaissance. In this path-breaking study, the act of drawing is explored as a way to foster epistemic development and wise thinking skills.

Drawing exposes the connecting processes of perception, by which we make sense of the world, creating and using systems of classification which ultimately create boundaries. By exploring the relationships between metaphor, the mental activity fundamental to language, and the coordination of hand and eye essential for drawing, such categories can be dissolved through the development of visual intelligence.

This book discusses approaches to epistemic development in relation to experiential learning, citing students’ descriptions of their encounters with ways of knowing based on value judgments rather than the perceived safety of facts. Chapters on prehistoric cave art and early medieval practices of the art of memory provide further insights into what it means to draw, and what a drawing is. A chapter on the history of engineering education discusses the narrowing effects of abstract and theoretical approaches to knowledge at the expense of practical skill and experience.

The study was developed in the setting of a postgraduate industrial design course for engineers at the Royal College of Art, London, but its concerns and recommendations, including a wealth of teaching ideas, apply wherever professional practitioners have to make judgments involving conflicting ideas.

Its insights hint at a deeper role for the university, taking postgraduates beyond the narrow instrumentalist training agendas favoured by current government policies, to a larger vision of the meaning of professional development.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-7709-1
ISBN-10: 1-4438-7709-3
Date of Publication: 01/05/2016
Pages / Size: 358 / A5
Price: £41.99


Prue Bramwell-Davis is a design educator and educational designer, with extensive experience teaching product, spatial and graphic design at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Research for this book is based on her time as Senior Tutor in Innovation Design Engineering at the Royal College of Art, London, which led to a PhD from the University of Bristol in 2012, where she is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Graduate School of Education. She currently works with researchers in design and the humanities, exploring how, in a wide range of contexts, from patient empowerment to textile design research, conceptual and critical dimensions of thinking and decision-making can be made to flourish through the development of skills of making connections using visual thinking and the processes of metaphor. She has also worked for the World Health Organisation and other international agencies on designing intermediate technologies and exploring how design thinking can be used to create systems and tools that address quality of life issues, rather than the proliferation of market-led consumer products.