Teaching Humanities in Architecture
Humanities deals with the overall study of human culture and development. It does not just discuss ‘History of man’ per say, but also discusses the various human struggles of physical, social and thereby intellectual progression of man. As a child, I loved listening to my mother explaining the subject of history to me through stories exaggerating or probably emphasizing on the time-line of events in a certain chronology of ruling kings, their triumphs and failures, their achievements and contributions etc. These kinds of narratives instilled in me to having to know more and make myself more aware of the subject.
One of the prime objectives of joining an architecture B.Arch. course was to delve my knowledge deeper into the evolution of Humanities, its contributions, similarities and associations towards other subjects. To my disappointment, the course structure of the subject was led by a handful of professors who read out from books, gave notes, assigned PowerPoint presentations or reports etc. This kind of imparting knowledge and learning triggered me to venture out on my own acquiring and gathering self-knowledge through additional readings, visiting museums, traveling to historic sites and places with family, friends or at times even single handedly. I continued documenting my observations and findings through pocket notes with the sole objective of future referencing. I felt this strong urge of bringing about a drastic change in the way this subject was being projected out to the students as a subject of not much importance, of not much relevance in terms of overall sessional work and of something that has to be learnt through some notes; by-hearted for exams. Having had the opportunity to teach this subject way back in 2017 as a professor of Architecture re-embarked that urge in me to deliver and impart my gathered knowledge of the subject in a better way; at least better than what was imparted to me. I kick started this journey by starting lectures through stories, explaining contextual relations, the propagators for growth – the contributors, their roles in development of civilizations, the hierarchies of social sects of people and cultures in multiple eras, their contributions towards art and architecture, a rich social life, economic and financial development thereby discussing overall development and contributions towards human society. Model making was the first kind of exploration in the initial years where students were exposed to understanding proportions and geometries of buildings with respect to the human scale. The assignments that followed in the later years were analyzing the stories told in class in the manner of ‘time-line storyboards’ expressing the understanding in the most simplistic and graphical manner with bare minimum text. I also started engaging, encouraging and taking students for site visits propagating the idea of practical knowledge and learning through visual experiences which is ideally an integral part of architectural education.
Having secured my second Master’s Degree in History in the year 2020, has broadened my knowledge not just on the architectural front, but also opened up my thoughts on multi-disciplinary learning. I continue my quest for learning/ teaching more on the subject in various different ways through extensive research on multiple topics. There is this wholesome need in the teaching pedagogy to interweave learning not just emphasizing on intellect, but also through a sensorial understanding of multiple subjects. With an overall 8 years of teaching experience, and having accumulated a bundle of lectures ready to be projected through PowerPoint presentation, I still approach my each class with a decent amount of self-preparation, adding on to more than what I have gathered or imparted all through these years with the sole objective of instilling the love i have had for this subject in my students.
‘Teachers who love teaching teach students to love learning’ – Robert John Meehan
Ar. Mildred Jose
(Urban Designer, Architect and Historian)
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