Inspiration and influences

Read any column about musicians and they’ll invariably be asked about their inspirations & influences. Listen to their music and you can probably hear the influences they mentioned.

Detail from “Liverpool 1980: Eric’s Progeny (Peter Frame)

I got to wondering about where I get my inspiration and influences from for the work I do. Do I just derive previous work in PE, or professional learning, or whatever, to create a new product?  Should I?

I remember reading about Will Wright and his sources of inspiration for his games SimCity and later The SIMS(1)

About SimCity he said
“Most people, when I tell them that SimCity is really about gardening, they understand it, but they’ve never thought about it. In fact you’re tilling the soil, you’re planting the seeds, and wonderful things popup, and you have to weed the garden. The process of playing SimCity really maps much more to a garden than it does to a train set”

More interestingly The SIMS was a combination of Christopher Alexander’s book on urban design and community livability “Pattern Languages” and watching kids play with a dollhouse. Wright described his thinking on The SIMS as starting out being “a dollhouse for boys and strategy game for girl”

So, inspiration and influence doesn’t just have to be confined to where you usually live it or see it in your work.

This site discusses unusual places for inspiration for web developers and designers

This one details sources of inspiration for car design

My point being – do we as educators have to draw on just education custom and practice for inspiration when creating something new? Do we risk dressing up the old as new?

I say think outside the box. Draw inspiration from patterns, philosophies or designs anywhere – games, nature, art, popular culture, media – the options and possibilities are endless. I believe a design philosophy like this will make education and learning much more vibrant and exciting fro our students. And mean you have a lot of fun yourself.


(1) Chan, D. “The Philosophy of the SIMS” 1993 (available as PDF here)

Wikipedia – A Pattern Language

Share Button

Leave a Comment