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Practice : Winter 2010
Teaching our own : Innovative lesson plans from the practice classroom “If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin.” — Texas Bix Bender Practice-ba sed educ ation is changing rapidly at the BAC, to expand learning opportunities while preparing students for cha nges that a re re-shaping the design profe ssion s. The traditional course for BAC students to ea rn Practice credit has been under siege, a s the rec es sion has reduc ed employment throughout New England. It has bordered on the impossible for students to find new design positions , a nd no group of students wa s invulnerable, reg ardless of their levels of skill or experienc e. Sustainability, energ y conservation, and expanded health care needs may require designers’ input in emerging economic rec overy efforts, but we realistically don’t expect to see student employment rise for another few years. Over the past year, the number of BAC students unable to find employment in credit-bea ring position s increa s ed more than 12%. While many students worked in non-design jobs, they were increa singly stymied in their attempts to synchronize ac a demic a nd practice-ba sed lea rning. Students were challenged to acquire necessary technical skills and competency, and to meet the minimum threshold of Practice credits ne eded to submit portfolios, begin thesis or degree projects, or even graduate. We saw that the time had c ome to take control and start teaching our own through alternatives to traditiona l Practice. Changes were emerging in Practice e ven before the Rec ession. Our AIA-funded Practice Ac ademy underlined that firms increa singly expect our students to be a gile, de sign-oriented (beyond their proje ct production skills), autonomous and collab- orative. Mentoring, technologica l proficiency, cross-generation al teaching and lifelong learning are now more important. Simila rly, incoming students increa s- ingly a rrive with SketchUp skills, seeking opportunities for hands-on work in all BAC disciplines. The Solar Decathlon is a perfect example of how BAC students developed connections with other schools and industry partners. a community comes Together: special projects develop Early this year, inclu sive Practice Department forums were held to invoke ideas. Staff and a dministrators, Practice f aculty, firm super- visors, a nd students participated. The only stipulation wa s that nothing would be c onsidered that potentially compromised the value of the Practice le arning experienc e. Students are still responsible for e arning the majority of their required practice credit in design settings aligned with their specific discipline or area of conc entration, g uided by super visors within the firms. Beginning this past spring, six modes were established for students to petition for supplementa l Practice credit: Independent/freelanc e de sign projects were performed under the tutel age of a member of the Practice fac ulty or other licen sed de sign profes sional. Students had previously been able to petition for up to one year of independent work, but they were required to have worked in a firm for pRacTIcE ] TEachINg ouR oWN pR acTIcE mock a rchitectura l firm s, london Tower students: Jennifer Newland, christos Ntanas, Randolph Wolters, brian vester and Instructor: Jonathan c. garland Len Charney, Head of Practice 25 pRacTIcE