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10 Rules for Teachers and Students by Sister Corita Kent and John Cage

I first came to know these rules from my first ever typography teacher, Angie Wang. Angie was the best teacher, she totally ignited a love of craft and typography in me, and I'll always adore Angie for what she brought to the classroom. It was 2008, I was 21 years old, and to be totally honest, I had pretty much skated through school up until that point. But now that I found the thing that I wanted to study, I was ready to go all in. Lucky for me, Angie introduced us to 10 Rules for Teachers and Students by Sister Corita Kent.

Around 1967, or 68 Sister Corita Kent wrote up these rules that then became the rules for the entire art department at The Immaculate Heart College. It was popularized by John Cage, the avant grade composer, who wrote the 10th rule.

10 rules for teachers and students

Just as a graphic design artifact, I love the look of this Letraset-based composition. The leading is so tight, but it somehow works.


Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for a while.


General duties of a student: Pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.


General duties of a teacher: Pull everything out of your students.


Consider everything an experiment.


Be self-disciplined: this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.


Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.


The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.


Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.


Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.


We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.


Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything. It might come in handy later.

I’ve recently recorded a podcast episode in response to these rules, and made a presenation about it as well. It keeps coming back to me, and I still have a lot to learn about each of them. For now, all I can say is that the faster students learn about these rules, and the more they can apply them, the better. Thanks to Angie for being an inspiring human, designer, and teacher. You can follow here studio’s work on instagram @designisplay.

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