A 50-year Journey to Discover a Fun, Comfortable Way to Learn Landscape Architectural Design (11/38)

Shortly after graduation, with only my Bachelor’s degree, I was fortunate enough to get a teaching position in an accredited landscape architecture program. I knew I wanted to teach from my first semester in design to this point. Yes, I was a bit intimidated. Heck almost half my class was older than I was, but I was convinced I knew something they didn’t and I was going to deliver it. Funny thing was, I did know something they didn’t but I also didn’t know how to communicate it clearly and in ways they would readily understand. I was in the same situation as my first design studio with my first design professor. Only now I was the professor. I was perpetuating the belief that design was something new, that my students had little experience with it, and that they would have to go through the hell I did. Yup, sounds like the rites one experiences when joining a special club. It was, and a lot of classes are still taught that way, but needn’t be.

Now that I was the “teacher” and was daily confronted with design questions I seemed to be answering on a wing and a prayer, I knew there had to be a better way. Maybe there was a formula. I do believe now, about 54 years later, that there is a formula. It is derived more from sociology and methods of learning than mathematics and geometry. I found a good answer at the time in metaphors and analogies. I began to realize design and design problem solving wasn’t all that new to my students. I began to realize that learning in small steps starting with existing knowledge and experiences was so much more rewarding for both my students and myself than taking students to the edge of the design abyss and throwing them in.