Monday, 7 February 2011

Back To (Primary) School

For a fairly large chunk of my MET 1 course, I have to do a major design project thing. Our group has decided that our project shall be to recreate the guinea pig/rabbit hutch. It shall be the most awesome hutch that the world has ever seen, surpassing the Guinea Pig Eglu (it also won't cost a ridiculous £450). We've currently got a few ideas and sketches down, but we're still mostly in the stage of researching what people would really want from their ideal hutch, and what sort of features we should be looking at to add. There have been a few teething troubles...

<Rosti> So I'm doing this design project, where we're trying to design a whole new concept of a rabbit/guinea pig hutch thing
<Rosti> and we figure that it's probably a good idea to find people who own them and do a bit of market research
<Rosti> so I do some Googling around to try and find forums for pet enthusiasts
<Rosti> and make the mistake of using the term "pet lovers"
<Rosti> frigging first half a dozen results are ALL bestiality forums
<Rosti> with pictures and video
<Daz> so did they give you any good ideas or what?
<Rosti> I fucking hate the internet sometimes

A fairly large part of our market research is focused around making the hutch fun and interesting for kids to interact with. And we figured who better to consult on this issue then kids themselves. So we've arranged a ton of visits to a local primary school this week to talk to kids and go through ideas and stuff with them. It's being incorporated into their Design Technology syllabus, and the teachers have been fantastically helpful and cooperative.

We had our first session today, where we just watched the (Year 1&2) class while the teacher went through some stuff. Then the kids drew pictures of their pets and ideal pets and all the stuff they'd need to be looked after properly and all that. It was sort of fun to see the kinds of crazy stuff they can come up with (to the question "What happens if you don't feed them every day?", the answer of "They suffocate"). Also their ridiculous energy and enthusiasm for absolutely anything. The teacher asked them if they liked pets and they all went fucking mental. I can't remember far back enough into my childhood to the point where I had such boundless enthusiasm for anything we did in class. Teenage years really do transform you into uncaring, sceptical and idling layabouts.

They sat down, they did some drawing for a bit and we chatted to them, and then they got bored and distracted and suddenly the class was filled with kids running around with toys and banging tambourines and we no longer had any clue what the fuck was going on, but the teacher seemed fine with it so I guess it was OK.

It's actually a little unsettling at times. Children can be scary.

Being thrown into a classroom of crazy six and seven-year olds is definitely not something I've experienced since I was, well, six or seven. I'm sure the phrase "they're more scared of you than you are of them" is probably extremely apt here, but I find talking to little kids strangely weird and uncomfortable when I don't actually know them. I don't even know why. I feel like they're judging me, when they're almost certainly not. They're frigging six years old. All I cared about when I was that age was break-times and television. Yet there is still this weird aspect of trying to talk down to their level without feeling stupid or overly patronising. If I don't make a good impression, they'll all hate us, rise up against us and eat our brains. Screw tripos exams. Handling six year olds is bloody tough going.

Have fun with your PGCE, sis. I really don't envy you whatsoever.

Still, we're going back in tomorrow for a proper session where we take the lead and we're giving them a presentation (MET prepares us to give presentations to peers and board members, but I feel horribly unprepared and nervous about talking in front of a bunch of kids). Then we're going back next week to make model hutches with them and we'll also be talking to some Year 5 kids. With potential mutinies and brain-eating aside, it should be good fun.

Also, we're quite possibly getting an actual live guinea pig to use as our... guinea pig when it comes to finding out what can really be improved with current hutches and testing out our prototype hutches.

Basically, MET is fucking awesome.

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