Authentic Audience Series: Architecture

The Authentic Audience Series is an attempt on the part of the writers at ThThTh to build a case that school is not just in need of reform, it needs total transformation. “Authentic Audience” specifically implies that student work, bereft of external audience, is compartmentalized mentally by the student and largely unavailable for novel future situations. Let’s remedy that.

I was talking with a group of entrepreneurial types a few weeks ago, and they started talking about how school is really bad at teaching the stuff that actually matters.

I’m so used to hearing this kind of stuff by now (I tend to attract the education-reform minded) that my hair no longer stands up when non-educators say crap like that. They were saying that what matters most is avoiding frustration when a project gets difficult.

When you’re tiling your bathroom, you’ll end up cutting out for the toilet way more than once; that’s part of the gig. (Cutting porcelain is not so fun)

When you’re making a web app, you’ll change the interface and lose what you loved about it, because the users hate it.

When you’re trying to learn something, like integration by parts, or how what the heck “voltage” really means, you’ll operate with some really dysfunctional models for a while.

This is ok.

The guy sitting across from me specifically pointed out how, when they were building their new co-working space, they ran into these kind of unpredictable predictable issues. This got me thinking about the blue print and layouts for the space.

So, here’s the lesson:

Go to a local architecture/mock-up firm.

Get some plans for buildings and spaces that have already been built.

Have the students analyze the plans (blue prints are engrossing, just like maps) for potential sticking points, traffic problems, construction bottle necks, what have you.

Take the predictions back to the architects and contractors and compare to what actually happened.

Discuss merrily.

Ancillarily (which is not a real word, but I really want to hear a South African pronounce it), I built this for my other job. It’s a web interface that allows members of the community to sign up and state their expertise in the effort to find students mentors and audience. It’s currently just a proof of concept.


Interested in setting it up in your area? Let me know, that’s what I do now.