I have attended university in both architecture and education. While I have not completed my education programme, the differences between how both are taught are stark.

One main difference is the regularity of feedback.

Feedback in creative education

In architecture school, you get feedback from your tutor about your project every single week. It could be through informal contact time at the desk. Or through regular presentations (called ‘crits‘). I believe that this is pretty much the norm for all formal creative education. There is always constant feedback about your project to help you become a better designer (or artist).

Sketch of architecture 'crit'. Person presenting receiving feedback from others.

Yes, sometimes ‘crits’ are harsh. Some tutors and external guests push you really, really hard to make you clarify your ideas well. But once you reflect on the comments, they can help you push your project to the next level.

It’s not always feedback from your tutors as well. You can get feedback from your peers too. You get to hear from people who see things differently from you. While sometimes the different ideas make you more confused about the direction of your project, they can be valuable at other times to help you consider another way of solving the issue.

Feedback in non-creative education

On the other hand, in the school of education that I’m currently studying in, tutors would not give feedback on your research paper. Not until after you submit your paper. Which by then, you can’t implement changes to your research anymore.

Sketch of person working alone, without getting feedback from others.

Even when we had presentations, it was one-off. And there was not enough time given for constructive conversations around our research due to the lack of time.

Sure, I understand the need to maintain fairness for all students. That’s why tutors don’t give feedback on our work throughout the semester.

But the lack of feedback doesn’t exactly help us become better researchers in the same way that the feedback during ‘crits’ help us become better designers.

Getting feedback for your project

You might not be studying right now. But you might have other projects that you are working on. Whether they are for work or for your own personal interests, it’s still good to get some feedback about your project.

Having a fresh pair of eyes to check out your project might highlight certain blind spots that you have neglected. You might benefit from the different set of experience that the person has.

But before getting feedback for your project, there are some things to take note of.

#1 Timing is important

You need to come up with a minimum viable product to show others. You need to already have thought through the reasons why you have made your choices in the project.

Do not seek feedback too early in the process. Especially when your thoughts are still all over the place. And when you have nothing concrete to show but just ideas floating in your head.

Write down your ideas. Sketch them out. And find a way to build a prototype or model.

Otherwise, when the person you are sharing with doesn’t understand your ideas properly, you will start to confuse each other.

#2 Be careful who you share with

Some people will just not share your appetite for new and innovative ideas. Others will not be interested in the thing you are working on. While some might just be critical of everything.

You need to share it with someone who can give you constructive feedback. Maybe it’s someone who has more experience. Or maybe it’s someone who doesn’t have as much technical knowledge as you. It probably depends on what kind of feedback you are looking for.

But just remember that not everything needs to be shared with everyone. You just need to get constructive feedback from the right people.

#3 You don’t have to take all suggestions into account

You need to learn how to process the feedback you receive. Not every suggestion needs to be implemented in your project.

After all, you are the master of your own project. You get to decide what to change and what not to change. Sure, you might not be able to control whether people will like what you do. But at least the decisions on what features or elements to incorporate into (or remove from) your project is yours.

Too much feedback can make you feel overwhelmed. Especially when there’re too many different opinions and suggestions. However, too little feedback makes you feel like you are just trying to throw the ideas on the wall and see what sticks. It makes you feel like you are working in a vacuum without knowing the impact that you are making.

If I have to make a choice, I would rather seek more feedback than none at all. What about you?

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