Thursday, March 08, 2012

You are what you...teach?

I have to admit this: sometimes I can't believe I teach. Particularly about Architecture. After all, if you scan this blog, it is a rare moment for me to speak about the virtues of the profession. Mostly, my stories are filled with the disappointment, the frustration, the harsh realities that our profession has somehow kept secret.

When I started this blog, I thought I could, through my experiences, shed some light upon certain misconceptions. I thought, perhaps, this blog could help others understand what the education asks, the profession asks, of those who enter. Basically, I hoped I could enlighten people of the things I wish I would have been informed of years ago.

But, as the years passed, I found myself on detours that took me farther away from where I thought I should be. My blog reflected this; looking back on my entries, I now realize that the questions concerning me weren't about what type of professional I might be, but whether or not I should be a part of this profession. And then, I just fell off the face of the earth.

Perhaps, from this short history, you can understand why I find myself rather dumbfounded concerning my current circumstances. I find myself in front of students, encouraging them, challenging them, to imagine the possibilities of not only their work, but their future lives as architecture professionals. And while I am forthright about my own experiences, I never discourage these fresh faces from pursuing their dreams. I find myself, surprisingly, an enabler.

I am both Jekyll and Hyde. I can be incensed about our continually changing certification requirements one second, excited about detailing a stair railing the next. I ponder whether or not I have the stamina to continue on in the profession, but undoubtedly have an opinion on any design you ask me about. I am a dissenter and an advocate.

But, as Jekyll was forced to wonder, which is my true self? Am I one who will, five years from now, be set upon some other task, some other work, which finds me looking at Architecture from afar? Or will I be, as I am now, hard at work, hoping to make something someone will love. Am I the person I see in this blog, or the person I hear speaking to my students? Right now, both seem equally likely. I wonder which will win out.

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Blogger mkf said...

back when i was a regular reader of your blog, tracking your gradual awakening from the lies your teachers told you was a subtle thing, kinda like watching a kid grow. but, coming back cold after after a year or so, the change is easy to see.

and i can totally understand why.

after my first year at university of texas SOA (and two semesters of the standard "introduction to architecture" indoctrination), i was one of the pod people, too--convinced beyond doubt that "we" were special beings who saw things differently than the unwashed masses. we studied only the 1% and their immortal creations, with rarely a mention of the bread-and-butter work that would be the destiny of most of us.

my small class of '84 would produce not one, but two superstars: craig dykers, and mehrdad yazdani (one of whose success came as no surprise; the other, as an utter, jaw-dropping shock. i'll let you figure out whom is who).

the rest? all i know for sure is what happened to those who are still my friends: two still tenuously employed and as-yet unpublished, another who operates a rather successful headbanging nightclub in austin, and the fourth of whom found the golden ticket--he became the office IT/CAD guru who never picks up a pencil, but can rest assured that (in his own words) "they'd dump a partner before they'd fire me".

me? i left long ago, and get my architectural gratification from doing the occasional house for myself, and sketching out quick, on-the-fly remodels for friends, co-workers and acquaintances (for which they're invariably blown away and grateful, though never to the point of being moved to actually pay me).

these days, i work not for architects but for lawyers, and watch a never-ending stream of smug pups with mostly-mediocre minds sailing straight outta law school into six-figure jobs--entitled beneficiaries of a profession which has convinced the public of its indispensability to society (the AIA could learn a few things from the ABA, all i'm sayin').

my advice to you (since you don't ask)? carve out your own niche, and make of the profession what you want it to be--utilize your talents in ways which please you and you alone, and do great things. whatever you choose to do (and my previous words notwithstanding), your education will prove invaluable to you throughout your life--i wouldn't trade mine for the world.

[oh, and the easiest way to do that? your inner voice is telling you already: get the hell outta here while you're still young (and it's still possible)--find a country that's vibrant, growing and debt-free, and where you won't have to spend the rest of your life paying for my generation's mistakes.]

that's all.

7:34 AM  

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