The Power of “Why?”
In education, we throw around terms like “critical thinking,” “systems thinking” and “inquiry-based learning” when describing what our children need in order to handle the complexity of our global world. In their simplest form, they all center on thoroughly and repeatedly asking “why?” Doing so or similarly “why is that important?” and “what does that get us?” provides two things.
First, it brings us into a meta conversation where we can critique reality. It gives us the objectivity that is key to improvement. Often the exercise is dubbed as “intellectual” and sequestered into the field of academia, however, as we seek purposeful action, sustainable practices and low-environmental impact, it must be practiced everywhere by everyone.
Secondly, such aggressive inquiry identifies motivations for current behaviors, allowing us to build future plans on those values and thus guarantee adoption. Think of it like genotypes and phenotypes in biology: our genes and DNA and the corresponding physical appearance that results from them. A community shares a collection of values – genotypes for that community organism. What the community builds for itself are expressions, or phenotypes, of those values. Thus, by asking “why?” we can dig down to our genotypes and ensure our phenotypes are honest expressions of them. Such a tendency creates tremendous progress in society.
What Design Brings to Education
The discussion around education reform asks for these deeply reflective pedagogical approaches to change the abilities of future generations. But are we using these same skills to fully understand what is going wrong now? Have we all asked ourselves what we were taught about learning? What about us right now is the result of how we were taught? What do we want to change in ourselves? Answering these questions identifies what we can change for the better and outlines a vision and purpose for education. Education is the path to improving society. Let’s translate the issues of modern society into pedagogy and petrify the amendments into the built environment. If we build a learning experience based on our current successes, we will give students the tools for the immediate future. But if we build a learning experience that directly counteracts society’s detrimental behavior patterns, we will give students the tools for the far future. We will swing the pendulum.
Design: Strategically Changing Behavior
Education and architecture both “design” or strategically change, behavior. While education does so conceptually with upcoming generations, architecture, as a part of the Design field with a capital “D” does so tangibly with current generations.
We live in a time where society is desperate for change. Our institutions and bureaucratic structures are preventing us from fully embracing drastic leaps in information and technology progress. Design allows us to recreate our reality and open the way for a much anticipated future.
Design can strategically change our reality by manifesting values into tangible forms that shape behavior and elicit emotional reactions. Product design creates objects, web site design creates virtual spaces and visual depictions, and architecture creates a permanent structure that plays this role. In the face of overpopulation and environmental degradation, the value of architecture often comes into question. But we are physical beings who will always need the basic human requirement of shelter. Yes, it can and should be created more responsibly, but there is also no equivalent to the creation of a sense of place. The creation of a building brings together a group of people to think very seriously about the future. And drawing on theories of great social theorists Bourdieu, Giddens and Lefebvre, the resulting structure perpetuates these changes by shaping our behavior, which is inextricably linked to our mindset, our habitus.
Thus, combining education and Design allows us to create a culture shift and guarantee its longevity.
Susan Welker, AIA - 18 May 2013
Exactly! I did research during my Masters in Architecture about how more w...
Yen Cao - 15 May 2013
Way to go Brian! Congrats.
Air Monitoring - 15 May 2013
Really, its nice information, I read this whole and carefully. This covers ...
Don Wesley - 14 May 2013
Sara: What an honor, and so well deserved! You have always been a very sp...
Bob Farwell - 13 May 2013
Sara: Congratulations! I have always been impressed by your talents,work e...