By author using MidJourney

How to Teach Architecture (or anything, really)

We run our education backward.

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A lot of people feel a certain frustration once they leave the University and enter their first jobs. They feel like the University didn’t prepare them well for the reality of their profession, and their inflated ego suddenly crashes. Basically, they realize that after spending four, five, or even more years at school (and acquiring a large amount of debt, if in the USA), they are still beginners.

At least that’s how I felt when I started at an architectural office. And only now am I beginning to see why.

While researching for the article on Socialist Housing, I came across lectures from my professors. Some just as uploaded slides, some as video or transcript. I remember enjoying many of them, and it was a nice nostalgic moment for me. All those years listening to Le Corbusier, Ravnikar, Mies van der Rohe, their lives, and philosophies, then everything about ancient Greeks and Romans (you know, the foundation), Michelangelo, and Brunelleschi… So beautiful and poetic, but did it — at the time — help me become a better architect? Hardly so.

In the absence of any serious vision on the part of the faculty as a whole, one reason for this is that professors orient their lectures around what they want to lecture rather than what students need to hear. These are two very different things. Many professors run architectural firms and are sick of the bureaucracy that plagues this profession and every single project they realize. In effect, they invent a parallel world in which you can build a goddamn castle in the sky if you fancy. So they turn the school into a sandbox for play. Which was great for us, students, but it didn’t help us prepare for serious work.

Sometimes this can happen with the best intentions in mind. I often catch myself fantasising about teaching again and every time it is about a certain passion that I have. Which is fine, passion is great, it is infectious and can go a long way. But the point is that these secret plans I have are primarily about me. One should look beyond that.

Then there’s another group of professors who don’t actually work as practicing architects and who live in an academic world where castles in the sky are not just possible but…

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Marjan Krebelj

Once an architect, now a freelance photographer/filmmaker with passion for words.