A Rough Sketch for a Sample Lesson for a Hypothetical Course

DATE - 1952

In 1952 George Nelson was invited by the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Georgia in Athens to develop a new educational policy. Nelson asked Charles Eames to work with him on the procedure, and together they found that the policy needed a complete overhaul. 

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They stated that the challenge of an arts teacher is to “foster understanding and creative capacity so that these qualities could be employed in any situation.”  Nelson and Charles wanted to explore ways to teach course material to the students in the shortest possible time. The faculty and staff met the two designers with some hostility after the initial presentation, convincing Nelson and Charles to propose a “sample” imaginary course aimed to “decompartmentalize” the curriculum and make effective use of the resources of the entire university.

Using “high speed techniques such as film, slides, sound, music, narration,” they designed a course (entitled “Art X” by Nelson) whose stated goals included “the breaking down of barriers between fields of learning…making people a little more intuitive…increasing communication between people and things.”   

The lesson was divided into three “packages” to be produced by the three designers over the next five months. The result of this combined effort was an experimental multimedia “lecture” entitled Communication, in which graphics film segments, slides, music, and synthetic smells were accompanied by the commentary of Charles and Nelson. Although Nelson referred to the lessons as “Art X”, the Eames Office always called it “A Rough Sketch for a Hypothetical Course.”

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