My most unforgettable L-O

Mike Gurstein (
Sat, 22 Oct 1994 16:11:03 -0400 (EDT)

Interesting--my best L-O experience was also with an English school of
architecture where I taught part-time. It was very much as Robin has
described. This was the Architectural Association School in London and
what amazed me was how open to new ideas it was, also how it managed to
be almost completely porous to the trends, and movements (and follies) of
the larger society. It was a very exciting place to be associated with.

I think how it was done was by being very close to the practise of
architecture with a lot of part-time practitioners as teachers. Also
there were funds available for hiring for short courses with a very short
lead time--if someone interesting passed by, they could be hired to do a
course almost immediately, and these could be initiated by both teachers
students and faculty. Students were encouraged to put together their own
programmes based on internal and external resources. There were very few
long term faculty ap[pointments and staff were encouraged to pursue
outside interests and contracts.

Whenever I have had occasion to think about teaching/training programmes
my experience at the AA as occasional lecturer and hanger on comes back
to me unbidden.

But how to capture the openness, spontaneity, excitement, creativity,
responsiveness of a gentlemanly Edwardian guild reproducing through
apprenticeship in a modern complex organization rather escapes me.

Thinking about it, the fluidity of the organization's boundaries, the
spontaneity of the learning opportunities, the ad hoc structures and
appointments were all critical but it all worked because no one's
livelihood or long term financial well being rested on producing a
particular set of outcomes. But I ramble...Mikeg

On Sat, 22 Oct 1994, Robin Brooker wrote:
> I used to work in the School of Architecture at Thames Polytechnic (now
> Greenwich University) and looking back that could best be described as a
> learning learning organisation. I have great admiration for the school.
> Most of the staff were constantly striving to learn new things and to
> learn how to do things better. Students were taught that learning was a
> two-way street where the academics gave freely of their knowledge and
> experience while the students were expected to bring their own learning
> to the class. But it didn't stop at the classroom. All students and
> staff participated. Students discussed their work with all - from the
> ladies who cleaned the rooms to Heads of School and Deans of Faculty.
> It was an electric atmosphere: a joy to work but thoroughly draining,
> both mentally and physically.