Before I get into this, I will just point people here to an author, Ivan Illich who spoke a great deal about the services society is providing, and puts forward an interesting approach. Think of recent health service findings, that 'time' is what matters more to patients, more than actual treatment. I would say, that in education there is too much information flooding towards students, and not enough time in which to think. Hence Illich, wrote his book called 'de-schooling society'.
Shadow, you seem to have summed it up, as I would like to myself.
The Design schools are in the hands of unrealistic or isolated professors whose relevance to the profession is limited,
Unfortunately, these types of professors are possibly the only ones capable of handling the unfairness of the current situation. One, where a couple of star students are chosen from every year to become the Almight Britney Spears, and everyone else might as well whistle dixie. It is demoralising to go through years of design school tutition knowing you will never be chosen, never have a hit record. Simply because the current system will not support more than a few exceptional talents, who possess the 'X' factor. Puke!
But forget about relevance to the 'profession' for a second. The profession could come and go, and noone would even notice. Think rather of relevance to the construction industry - that sort of beast. The construction industry is something that society needs after all. Architects shouldn't be afraid of the construction industry, but they are. They build barricades around themselves to keep it out. They look at the media created image of the construction industry - of exploitation of labour, a race to the bottom - and architects say to themselves, I don't want that. Hence, why the 'profession' has no real place in the construction industry any more. Architects are busy fiddling around in tiny niches, and bumping into one another.
thus producing students or work who are irrelevant.
On the contrary, I think the work on display at end-of-year exhibitions is all wonderful stuff. However, it is like the music industry and the Top 40 charts - the music recording companies have already 'filtered' the content, to ensure that what gets through, is what conforms to a certain profile. A profile decided by the 'organisers' of the 'X' factor contest to begin with - the guys holding those 12B clutch pencils and sporting calvin klein horn rimmed spectacles. Compare it to music downloading nowadays, which is starting to give a choice - and take power away from the big recording studios. But the sad fact in architecture, is that when you get the single precious recording contract you are set for life. If you don't get it, you are doomed to years of obscurity. For instance, the front screen of Rhapsody features Britney Spears, unsurprisingly. Next to the listings of her work is a box of "similar artists." Among them is Pink. If you click on that and are pleased with what you hear, you may do the same for Pink's similar artists, which include No Doubt. And on No Doubt's page, the list includes a few "followers" and "influencers," the last of which includes the Selecter, a 1980s ska band from Coventry, England. In three clicks, Rhapsody may have enticed a Britney Spears fan to try an album that can hardly be found in a record store.http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html?pg=5&topic=tail&topic_set=
Unfortunately, the model that has developed for a lot of creative professions - the recording contract idea, the Britney Spears star model, results in a lack of choice, and power concentrated in one institution. When you go to a design school exhibition, you rarely get beyond the Britney Spears front page choice. The teaching staff in design schools are divas - I mean, the WHOLE staff in these institutions is populated by people from a niche. A niche that accounts for a ridiculously small portion of the construction industry. They arrive into deliver 'tutition', as it is called. And most of them are so sore about not be paid enough, or tired from driving these one-person niche practices, and living pipe-dreams. They are in no fit state to judge any young person's ability, while carrying around their own baggage. A lot of them were 'X' factor kids in a past life, so the whole rotten formula just starts to in-breed. I have often witnessed the professors 'coach' a young star before a presentation, and it is exactly the image of show business. Nothing to do with design or thinking about solving problems.
Design schools do not like to see students undertake work other than the Canon appropriate to the current fashion.
Design schools do not like to see students undertake work which cannot be groomed into a sexy, all singing, all dancing show business performance.
On this one aspect, I have to admit I failed quite miserably. I must not have had enough 'X' factor to be a real professional.
Here, I would stand up for the design schools strangely enough. Because the design schools filter the student population to produce the Britneys, the Britneys after a while start to drive the process, moreso than the teaching staff. If a star student decides to do an arts center for a thesis, then everyone else has to do an arts center too.
Just like you have diva's amongst the professors, you have real DIVAs amongst the student body also.
In fairness to the professors, they cannot accept work which isn't following the prescribed rules, for fear of upsetting the biggest diva's amongst the student body itself.
So the whole process, is self-reflective in all kinds of weird and wonderful ways. It is a horrible and ghostly 'hall of mirrors' kind of situation.
Design Juries and Publications support sycophants who fawn after their every word and action promoting a self fulfilling destiny amongst a very small group of people.
This is the in-breeding point, I was trying to make. It is in-bred on so many levels too. Am I the only one who notices the webbed feet anymore?
Along with the De-schooling Society book, another one by Ivan Illich, called 'Tools for Conviviality' is a classic apparently. It may provide interesting suggestions for the architectural community to grow more healthy links to the outside. One obvious link which could be created, is between the construction industry and architecture. But as long as you have professors who do not understand the need to link - the community will continue to in-breed itself.
The community is in total denial of its own problems at the moment, far from trying to fix some of them.
Burge_eye, the 12B sketch on the back of the envelope approach to 'professionalism' is exactly the problem. Not that there is anything wrong with a 12B sketch. But in isolation, it is a real problem. What is a huge obstacle, is how a certain body of people, called architects managed consistently to think they can get away with 12B and nothing more. It is equivalent to the hippie's stubborn persistence in growing vegetables on the land, and selling beaded necklaces. It is a beautiful model for living, but an insufficient one for business. The trouble is the 12B crowd monopolise the teaching positions in the institutions. Which is a real shame.
I would welcome representatives of the construction materials companies on the floor at design reviews, or desk studies. Certainly the concrete guys will push their product, the steel guys, will push theirs. But that is a part of the game. The idea, of creating the links, is to get away from pushing 12Bs.
Let's face it most year out students do a lot of competitions, sketch designs, folding prints etc. College should be fun but if the schools teach a degree of reality, the rest of your working life will become more fun too.
If you are lucky, you receive the privelege of being allowed to fold the drawings. Unfortunately, I rarely even got that privelege. The few times I did, on my years out from studies, I would always notice an architectural technician, perhaps a couple of years younger than me working as a professional in the same office. He or she would be doing a real job, and helping to produce a result. I would be 'folding drawings'. Which always struck me as kind of odd. I think the biggest natural mistake of all - is not giving the architecture students a recognised diploma after three years, and the option to go out there and compete with the architectural technicians.
But that is not what happens. After four years of architectural training, you are not even considered qualified enough to fold the damb drawings. You are likely to be beaten to a job by a Pole or an Italian, with less usable command of english than a six year old.
Brian O' Hanlon.