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Practice : Spring 2012
Spring 2012 marks 4 years since the Gateway Initiative was introduc ed at the BAC. Over 100 community projects and spon sored design competitions have been conducted through this Practice-ba s ed initiative, spawning a note worthy assortment of educ ationa l partnerships with community clients, ser vice organization s, a nd municipal a gencies throughout metrop olitan Boston. Gateway projects have served a s worthwhile incubators for e xperiential le arning at the College, introducing critical collaboration, both within a nd outside the BAC, that wa s previously unimaginable and untested. Of particular interest have been the ways that Gate way venture s embody an energized approach to tea ching, mentoring, a nd genuine apprenticeship, characteristics that have unfortunately decre a sed a cc ording to many students when they recount and compare their Gate way involvement with ea rlier employment in traditional de sign- related settings. In fact, the experienc e of coordinating community project activities with practicing profe ssiona ls, many of whom are either BAC alumni or who teach our students in their evening cla s ses , ha s helped the BAC move clos er to developing effective internship strategies that emulate the highest instructiona l sta ndards set for “te aching firms” or “ intern friendly firms” by the American Institute of Architect s. According to the AIA, these structured initiatives “provide benchmarks for support a nd com mitment to interns on their path to licensure,” in harmony with the AIA’s progra m objectives, a nd “provide a founda- tion for a firm culture that values c ontinuous teaching, le arning, mentoring, creativity, a nd innovation.” Intentional Reflective Learning Full-proje ct involvement with community- based initiatives gives both students and practitioner instructors a fuller opportunity to understand and a rticul ate how individual task s are inter woven to complete projects involving actu al clients. Their participation in design-ba sed projects outside a cla s sroom s etting supports the concepts of reflective practice put forth by Donald Schon, educ ator a nd critica l thinker. In his seminal 1983 book, “The Reflective Practitioner,” Schon argues that professiona l education s hould focu s les s on the acquisition of specific technical skills, b ound to quickly become obsolete , a nd more an ability to reflect on and respond to re al life situations. These endeavors, often interdisciplinary in nature, facilitate greater communication a nd understanding bet we en students assigned to project teams, resulting in a higher level of collaboration. Students noticeably assume ownership over their own learning, a re more ac countable for their actions, and challenge one another to produc e their very best work. Comprehensive Learning Instead of Accounting of Hours One criticism of the typical internship-to- licen sure experienc e is that there is too much emphasis on ac counting a nd too little emphasis on c omprehen sion and thoughtful reflection. In many offices, interns qualify to ta ke registration e xams by completing an array of assignments, often in a disaggre- gated manner, a s project support sta ff, neatly slotting their time into prescribed c ore c ompetencie s and training requirements . Students who g ain a comprehensive understa nding of all phases of community- based projects hold a distinct advantage in this regard. Gateway Instruction: Creating the Essential Teaching or Len Charney, Head of Practice Intern- Friendly Firm Spring 2012 mark s 4 years since the Gateway Initiative was introduced. Len Cha rney, Head of Prac tice China Pearl Restaurant, Yosuke Urabe, M.Arch PRACTICE 25 PRACTICE ] TEACHING FIRMS PR ACTICE