We recently lost Vikas Satwalekar, one of the best design teachers we have ever had in India, and a friend and mentor to me and so many others. As Executive Director of NID, and Head of its Visual Communication program, he made a deep impression on his students, leading them on to much success in their later lives. He had a unique style that helped build a lasting rapport with his students, even while teaching them valuable lessons. Here are a few tips for design teachers seeking to learn from his considerable experience:
Be an assertive teacher: Vikas was like a very strict parent. He always supported students but pushed them to do better.
Be a friend, but don’t go too far: When we were students, Vikas was friendly, but he remained a teacher.
Connect information with stories: Vikas was a superb storyteller. It was fascinating to sit around and hear him speak. His stories on how color behaved when in the company of other colors taught us so much more.
Connect with student lives: Vikas would always ask about our different experiences and connect with them.
Time is precious: It wasn’t easy for students to get his time. We all knew he was busy, far busier than just teaching us. When he gave time, we never failed to turn up.
Explain yourself: Vikas had patience, and he showed that very well. He made me do a color exercise over 52 times, and every time he would tell me what was missing. We wanted to get it right every time.
Teach in many ways: Once he took me to the library, two floors up from where our class was, to show me a picture of a painting from a book. He would quote artists, movies, and music to get his point across.
Be firm: He was gentle but demanding. Students loved him for that. It wasn’t easy to get past him by making up stories.
Let students see your human side: Everyone saw him working late nights in studios over projects.
Believe in your students: He never ignored anyone. He listened and gave enough time to all of us.
Sudhir Sharma, Editor-in-Chief