MULTIPLE MINDS / MULTIPLE MEANINGS: ENGAGING THE IDIOSYNCRATIC
Mississippi State University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:As future professionals emerge from accredited institutions of architectural education a noticeable inadequacy is becoming increasingly present: the lack of coping devices for the engagement of the idiosyncratic thinking of others. As an educator it seems one must be willing to associate student shortcomings with the shortcomings of applied teaching methodology. Through this lens, this paper will consider how current methods in the education of an architect are leaving the student body without devices or mechanisms for addressing a base skill of the profession - the ability to engage the idiosyncratic desires of the client.
The focus of the investigation is the means by which architectural education professionals knowingly or more often unknowingly project and sometimes reinforce, through their teaching methods, a persona of exclusion and indifference toward the independent thoughts and ideas of students. The value in this probe is the ability to gain perspective on the missteps of architectural educators and design professionals in order to adjust or further define methods for accommodating and fostering student involvement and engagement within design disciplines.
As a professional architect one must be engaged and interested in learning and understanding the issues brought forward by the client, as should a professor with his or her students. This ability is fundamental to the crafting of quality architecture, and therefore must be made a focus of teaching. Because this form of problem presentation is difficult to replicate in an educational setting we must take advantage of the truly original opportunity to teach this issue which occurs when the student first encounters his or her faculty. The connections made during an initial encounter with a student are critical to establishing the “working conditions” of the eventual relationship. This is also true for an architect meeting a prospective client for the first time; if not prepared to absorb, process and adjust to the interests, intentions and concerns of a client it is likely that little will come of the meeting. Students of architecture must be made aware that their ability to foster interpersonal understanding and accommodate issues, not necessarily of value or interest to them, is paramount to their success in learning and professional accomplishment. To be a good student or architects one must be able to make palatable and even fertile the issues, concerns and perspectives of those people for whom the work is being produced.
It is the long standing stereotype of architects to be arrogant, opaque in their language and generally dismissive of others ideas. Perhaps the most famous of American architects, Frank Lloyd Wright once suggested: “Better a humble arrogance than an arrogant humility”. This attitude of omnipotence has done a disservice to the profession as evidenced by the fact that, in the United States, approximately only 2-1/2% of single family residential construction involves an architect. While the state of architecture is often interpreted through the signature works of the mystic high-profile architects, it is in the fabric of our everyday constructs that we live and truly measure our progress. This paper aims to draw-out means and methods of recognizing relational shortcomings as educators and suggest steps toward improving the skills of our students to accommodate and thrive on a culture of active engagement.