Eruditio, Doctrina, Cognitio; types of teaching practice

These following paradigms operate unconsciously but are recognizable nevertheless. It is to the detriment of any serious teaching practice that they have been neither identified nor theorized. That they are allowed to continue undisturbed within a vague teaching praxis which assumes itself to be a natural adjunct of ‘talented’ individuals or a natural extension of the profession, testifies to their submergence beneath an ocean of cliché and unexamined presumptions.

teaching as taste; empty formalism

Certain issues are excluded as unnecessarily political. The object of architecture is understood to be a condition of the ineffability of form. Criticism tends to be anecdotal, anti-intellectual, and self-referential. It avoids all method, reinforcing its covert alliance with a romantic notion of the ‘renegade/heroic’ artist. Its product is an individual convinced that the school he or she attended was the best in the country, but not knowing quite why they have never heard of Gwyerini or Vitone. Examination is often arbitrary, in the original sense of the term, subject to the whimsical taste of the unit master or the head of school. It includes as a characterizing trait that terrifying distortion of mind which has conjured up the following delusion vis. that an extrinsic manipulation of forms for itself can be liberating in itself. What is missing is any thorough going materialist critique of the conditions of production of architecture and the material conditions of the cultural context in which that production is situated or even any suggestion that there might be one beyond the narrow terms of this formalism. 

• teaching as precedent; the prescriptive paradigm.

The stories of Modernism’s heroic achievements have all been told. Our role as architects is to repeat them. This approach seeks to rehearse the works of the great and the good. Typology is the flow of formal selection, precedent the proscriptive tourniquet. Ideally a self referential grammar of formal moves is established, operating as a cipher for establishing the success or failure of student work. 

teaching as proscription; professional training

Professional practice is taken as the ultimate sanction of all educational production. Certainly the more technical aspects of the discipline are seen as prior to all other forms of engagement. Speculative work is discouraged and the possibilities for the production of new or critical perspectives on the production of architecture are discouraged as unnecessary. The latent tendencies of teaching are denied and avoided by a collapse into the pragmatics of practice. Invention and speculation which are the well spring of the creative intellect are discouraged as illegitimate. Resulting production is comatose and myopic, reflecting the coy commercialisms of the occasionally notorious. It remains the most pernicious and the most common form.

teaching as psychology

Usually operating as either training, taste or proscription, this form assumes that all students are subject to a ‘deep’ analysis of hidden or covert desires through the medium of their architectural work. Individuals are the subject of a close and over familiar examination. Often anecdotal, but certainly non-professional, students’ attitudes, skills, and potentialities are divined through their work by a kind of amateur totemism. A cipher of graphical signifiers is taken to be indicative of certain personality traits and artistic tendencies. The possibility of manipulating the nature of individual achievement is assumed to be possible with respect to the counter-manipulation of their various psychological dispositions, independently or en mass.



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