Teaching the Footwear Designers of Tomorrow

A few weeks ago I had the extraordinary opportunity to talk with Ms. Newburger’s third grade class about being a footwear designer.  Let me tell you, if you ever need to be reminded how cool a career designing shoes is, go talk to third graders.

At first I was nervous about the idea.  I mean, I don’t really know how to teach a bunch of 8 year olds.  Luckily I was able to find several other designers who had previous experience with this.  Thanks to the Footwear Design Group on LinkedIn for your help. I would have been lost with out your suggestions.

When I finally met the class, I was blown away- they treated me like a rock star!  It took awhile to get started because each student had to know if I designed the shoes that they were wearing; I hadn’t :(   I broke the ice by first talking with the students about the sports that they play.  We talked about the movements involved in each sport and how those needs affect their footwear.  I then told them about the design process as I passed around lasts and taped up pullovers but they where most impressed by the skeleton foot.

Once the class had a good idea about the process we designed a running shoe together, which I drew for them on their electronic white board.  It turns out these things are very difficult to draw on.  Then it came time for the students to design their own shoes, some of which can be seen below.   Many of the students, even went so far as to and stitch lines and design their own logos, while others copied the Jumpman.

After about 20 minutes the kids each stood in front of the class and presented their designs.  If you are a children’s shoe designer start working on rainbow colors and glow in the dark shoes immediately.

Teaching the third grade class about shoe design was an incredibly rewarding experience.  It was great to see their creativity and to show the kids that design is a fun potential career path.  With any luck, maybe I inspired the next Tinker Hatfield.

If you have a design related story and would like to contribute to the MESH01 blog email nickh@mesh01.com

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