Discussing our case study project at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT
I am a firm believer that all teachers must strive to evolve and improve their teaching throughout their career. Teaching is a profession where the stakes are among the highest in society. As such, this profession cannot be taken lightly or performed statically without adjustment year after year. As I teach and research, I am confronted by the broader and deeper issues that must be considered and responded to in my teaching techniques and interaction with students.
The fellowship program in the Living Lab grant has offered me the single best forum for my growth in teaching. The seminar discussions allowed a wonderful transparent and heartfelt examination of critical issues facing us in our classrooms and in broader education theory. The placed based activities in particular converted us faculty into students, wide eyed and eager to explore. The trips brought us to new parts of our city where our neighbors are still grappling with the challenges of storm damage or demographic change. These activities offered clear models for place based learning that could be integrated into our course content. Such activities serve as a means of exposing our students to real world issues as well as emphasizing an ethic of service as a critical cultural paradigm for their growth and development.
Over my years at the college, I have become particularly dedicated to first year students. These students are in the midst of one of the most important transitions in their life, where learning is no longer an obligatory routine but a choice, a fact they sometimes have not fully appreciated yet. I now see my role clearly: to facilitate their transition to life long learners and to provide mentorship and model the dedication and passion that a career in architecture requires of each of us.
All of this has brought me to some intertwined conclusions that have profoundly impacted my approach to teaching Architecture at City Tech:
First, the students need exposure to world class architecture to build their appreciation of the cultural and aesthetic role architecture plays in society.
Second, place-based learning that provides rich first-hand experience of the built environment is critical to our students’ learning.
Third, learning from texts requires creative techniques, like emphasizing note taking and annotations, to ensure the students are building their informational, technical, as well as fundamental literacy as well as disciplinary literacy.
Fourth, active learning yields results that passive learning cannot produce. Information transfer is at most a minor mode of education in the 21st century.
Fifth, first year students must take ownership of their learning, and faculty must facilitate this.
Finally, general education impacts our students profoundly. Our students need mentoring and guidance in many facets of their professional development beyond the discipline content. In fact, general education skills, like reading effectively, oral communication, professional writing, intercultural knowledge and competence, civic engagement… all enhance discipline content and help students perform better in this core work. Students respond to faculty that address them in this holistic way, seeing that we care about their broader success than merely passing a course.
Presentations on Place-based Learning: