On the limitations of language

Each word we use has emotional connotations. Each word we use has a past, a present and will have a future. That history and the emotional connotations associated with it get tied up in human perception, that perception drawing us towards doing something or away from others. The word, doctor, accountant and engineer are the three only favourable occupations in some countries. In another case, what it means to ‘design’ might bring up certain processes, or skills predetermined by what it meant in the past. It might also seem that this word is associated only with a certain group of people. But what happens if we lose that concept? What can an accountant get from art or a chef from science? I have come to learn that although I can honour past processes and the wisdom that it teaches but that there is plenty of wisdom in the present, both in terms of what is needed now and will be valuable in the future and how I feel I would like to do it. 

Words by Natasha J. Hussein

Teen Vogue meets Education

On the Significance of Storytelling and Beauty in Science Education

  Made in PepperLand , Artist Unknown

Made in PepperLand, Artist Unknown

As I contemplate how to make education something inspirational, something that is designed to move people emotionally, I reflect on the power of storytelling. Today, a student of mine enthusiastically recounted a few ‘science stories’ — stories about Concorde and why it went out of service to stories about wine production. I asked him, “why is it you so vividly remember these stories but you do not remember the facts behind them (the facts, might I add, that will be examined in his summer exams?)” He shared that in fact, the story is “the only part that I listen to, simply because it is the most interesting.” 

Fashion collections are inspired by stories. Fine French patisserie are inspired by stories. Travel magazines, sportswear campaigns and even musicians all communicate stories and ideas. Moreover, they are communicated in ways that are so deeply moving, that people take interest simply because they are interesting. I have always believed that sometimes how you say something is more powerful than exactly what you say. And that aesthetics can be used to communicate concepts in a way that sometimes words cannot. Where then is the role of beauty and powerful, emotional storytelling in education? Is a mundane, boring story isolating people from a subject they might otherwise find interesting? Perhaps then the a teacher should see their role less as helping students get great exam marks (though that is wonderful) and more as an artist that brings ideas to life. 

I thought about aspiration in teenagers. I thought about Teen Vogue that tailor their stories fashion stories to young women. Is fashion interesting to young women, simply because more energy has been invested into making clothing interesting for generations more than Science. What if we could bring those stories to life? What if we gave the same attention to the educational stories we tell, that we do to branding campaigns we do for Nike. I never came to design because of my schooling, in fact I used to find making ‘key rings’ in order to pass a random test, rather boring as a 13 year old. I came to design through my fascination with hotels. Perhaps however, we should try and make finding your passion as a young person less random, less arbitrary and cultivate it through ensuring we present information in a way that is at the very least easy and beautiful and at the very best, moving and inspiring.

Words by Natasha J. Hussein

Openness to Creative Work

  Book , TechnoSoul

Book, TechnoSoul

  1. “Give people what they want.” — Following of trends, patterns and movements. How do we create something interesting in a space with a lot of noise?
  2. “People don’t know what they want.” —  They may not say it because they don’t know it. Understanding subconscious desires and exceed expectations. I think this is a super great place to charm, surprise and delight. 
  3. “People want the ‘wrong’ things. How do we create behavioural change?” — People’s behaviour cause certain problems to themselves and those around them. How do we reorient behaviour? Moreover, how do we lead change yet make it pleasurable for those we are encouraging change in. Can we make change enjoyable, exciting and memorable? 

Words by Natasha J. Hussein

Words don't have the same meanings anymore...

 Photographer Unknown // The meanings of words are constantly in transition. As people changes, societies change and words shift in their meaning. 

Photographer Unknown // The meanings of words are constantly in transition. As people changes, societies change and words shift in their meaning. 

As I go back through my life and reflect on the businesses that are considered experiential they seem to all have one trait in common, that they were the first do so in their market. Starbucks suddenly turned the humble coffee into a $5 normality in ‘everyday luxuries’ and Lululemon made the $180 legging seem acceptable. If we go further back into history we have the Fairmont Hotel group, who seem now to be 5* luxury hotel in major cities all over the world but that actually was created in year 1907 with the intention of helping people experience the great Canadian outdoors whilst enjoying the experience of being indoors. What seems important then is simply not only who they served but the context in which they served, the context of the ecosystem, the times, the technologies. After each movement, the experiences, in some way becomes normalised. It now normal to spend $5 on a coffee, normal to spend $180 on a pair of leggings and I am sure most business and luxury travellers are in some ways, are now numbed by expectation. Does heritage carry us through? Perhaps, but I feel only for so long, until we have to find new emotionally resonant ways to connect. 

Words by Natasha J. Hussein

Is there something more important than technology?

  Life , Black Beirut

Life, Black Beirut

Having spent a lot of time in Tech City, I began to ask what was the point in technology other than to address a ‘gap in the market’, a field that if laboured in intensively, could yield someone a lot of money? Was the boom in British technological developments a reflection of an obvious working alternative after leaving a corporate job or was it a labour of true love? Is the government drive to train young people in coding more about economic growth or about the happiness of our youth and their ability to make healthy choices as adults? Though I believe in the magic, charm and power of technological evolution, I sometimes feel as it there is something more important than technology for the sake of technology, and that is thinking about the true purpose of the things that we are making, the heart behind it (whether your own heart and passion — which is incredibly important) or a desire to see something different in a way.Perhaps then we can think a bit beyond the technology and understand a bit more about whether there are other ‘ingredients’ that could be more essential to the meal we are trying to make. 

Words by Natasha J. Hussein

Social Learning

  bh1 , Graphite on Paper, Emma McNally

bh1, Graphite on Paper, Emma McNally

As I progress in my journey as a maker, I have decided that I am going to share a daily note which will be followed by a weekly newsletter that details my observations as I learn, make and explore. You can expect the notes on Monday - Friday each week (with the exception of this week where you will hear from me today and tomorrow - getting the momentum going over the weekend!) I will publish them under the Daily Note section on the Journal part of my website as well as on Facebook. Although the process of 'making' is often considered a personal journey, one in which an individual undertakes the act of 'mastering a craft,' I feel that it is also a social journey, an activity that is as much about those who made it as it is about those who will use it even more so. I also believe that the observation of others are also helpful so I hope and I would love for you to join in the conversation. 

Words by Natasha J. Hussein