Just finished what i think is my 4th week teaching in 2nd year at the Leicester School of Architecture. Small group today, but good students. We just talked about their projects on a loosely individual basis, where others could take part of they wanted.
I found this quite rewarding. It was nice after having two very focussed sessions in the previous weeks to have an opportunity to look at their projects as a whole, and think about their interim reviews in a couple of weeks time. I guess they’re also getting to know who I am now too. This made things a bit more familiar, and i found it easier to hear them out before trying to empathise with their situation and help them work out a strategy for moving on.
Im finding teaching really interesting. Ive always been quite critical of who is allowed to teach on architecture courses – my employment highlights the fact in can be anyone! Ive no formal teaching qualification and im not fully qualified as an architect…so on what basis can i be trusted with other peoples’ education? Especially an expensive one…
But i guess what is important is actually the reflective nature of the teachers themselves. Maybe the simple fact that i am interested in improving as a teacher is reason enough? Teaching – like the social production of design – is about co-creating knowledge; about building a common ground for dialogue about an idea that can be put into practice, and in this respect i guess i’ve had five or six years of training! In treating my role as an educator like my role as a designer, i can help students on their journey towards bettering themselves. A solution of aspiration and best fit that is not unlike the design for production of a building, product, service, event, etc
But how can i remain fresh? And resist the idea of settling into a job in a way that breeds complacency and – in the worst cases – apathy and dislocation from those whose time you have taken custody? This happens too often, and these formative and (now expensive) years are just too important to let that happen.
So, another thing I’ve been doing recently is working with Dr Cristina Cerulli to develop a sustainable funding strategy for SKINN’s Furnace Park project in the Shalesmoor / Neepsend area of Sheffield. Currently this involves preparing an application for the University of Sheffield’s Collaborative R+D and Partnership Award….
See here for more about SKINN.
See here for SKINN’s project description for the Furnace Park project.
Here are some things I’ve learned;
1) Use ‘active’ language – see here. Strengthens your writing by making intentions clearer and cutting down word count. For example;
PASSIVE: The design document has been completed by the team.
ACTIVE: The team has completed the design document.
2) Academics can be strange beasts. I thought I’d learned about mouthing off from my posts whilst in Israel….but academics al seem to act like they’re protecting some kind of intellectual capital, when they could really benefit from knowing what each other is up to! This may be a naive view in today’s academic world where professors / researchers / lecturers are appraised on an individual basis and need to ‘stand out’…but it frustrates me to a point where I don’t care. The School is stronger as a School that as a roof over a number of individual academics. For the moment, I’m going to continue operating from my temporary office in the foyer of the Arts Tower, as it means I talk to people. This mean I find things out that are of benefit to my project, and that I can share the things I have found out with others, who can make use of it in their projects.
To Be Continued…
I popped into the Hub Westminster today, just to see what was going on in this interestingly conceived place for entrepreneurial thinking and doing right in the heart of our capital city…
This weekend sees the Hub host the University Project, introduced by Dougald Hine here, which questioned what our universities have become, and asks what we should do next.
I had the dubious pleasure recently of being asked to be involved in a debate at my School of Architecture, run by Project Context and hosted by SUAS (Sheffield University Architecture Society) which followed an Oxford-style debate format based upon the motion, “Schools of Architecture Should Be Dissolved!”. I was asked to argue for the motion, alongside Sheffield graduate Alastair Parvin, and current staff member Dr Tatjana Schneider. A synopsis or our argument can be found – thanks to Alastair – here, whilst the debate itself was videoed and broadcast live via Livestream. A recording can be found here (the debate itself begins about 20mins in…). A lively discussion with some interesting QandA…but boy am I glad I survived it!
A good article I’ve come across by Alastair Parvin, a former Sheffield student, in Makeshift magazine’s online stuff…..here
My latest contribution to BD’s online content can be found here…
So I’m in Tel Aviv. And I’ve been walking. And writing. In the wake of the attacks near Eilat, things have escalated. Israel bombed the Palestinian-controlled Gaza, from which it believes the attacks originated, within hours of the shootings on the bus near the Egyptian border. There have been further incidents, including the shooting of Egyptian border police by Israeli forces, and rocket attacks of the city of Be’er Sheva, where I was headed just a few days ago.
Tel Aviv still exists in its bubble, but with its own tensions. Protestors camp out on Rothschild Boulevard, despite some calls that civil protest should abate in the wake of the terror attacks in the south in order that the country may pull together. However, the homeless and debt-ridden persist. As one tour-guide put it, “they’re looking for peace now, they’re so tired…after all the free performances, late into the night, from celebrities looking to support them, they just want to sleep!”. Its a different world here from that which exists, also on the glistening shores of the Mediterranean, just a few tens of kilometers further south.
So here’s a photograph of what I wrote when I walked, and a video…the tension is getting to me, and becoming harder to escape.
On a cheerier note, this film is about to come out, and shows in glorious aerial detail many of the places I have visited…
I’m off to try and lift my mood. Checked into a private room for tonight, at some expense…I cant go on without sleep. Especially with the anticipation of Ben Gurion airport’s notoriously stringent security checks tomorrow before I fly out. In a nod to the archi-tourist inside me, I hope to head for a Mario Botta designed synagogue at the Tel Aviv University campus tomorrow, hopefully to be reminded that beautiful places and spaces can lift the soul…