This slice is about the hour (less the eight minutes spent on a fire drill) we were devotedly and literally at the feet of a community expert. Exposing students to experts from various professions is important when you are hoping to develop a big picture of possibility for students, especially those who don't have many experiences outside their neighborhood. One of the moms of a former student came in to share a few things about her professionional life in architecture this morning and she was a smash hit. She walked in with a large, beautiful red leather tote filled with papers, books, plans, and pictures. I admit to a little tote bag envy. She saved the artifacts for last starting her presentation by answering questions students had. There were the usual, "How long did you go to college?" "Do you like your job?" "Where do/did you work?" "Did you draw a lot as a child?" "Is your job hard?" kinds of questions.
I could tell there was engagement because after the first five or six set questions, students grew new things to ask based on her answers. A few things heard (not quoted here entirely word for word) today: Student: What do you like to research? Mrs. H.: I like to know about architects. I have some favorites. Antoni Gaudi based his work on nature, worked in a natural free style, has a flowing form. Frank Lloyd Wright also based his work on nature. He encouraged architects to go back to nature. In architecture we imitate nature a lot. I'm also always thinking about the design of things. Student: What were your favorite subjects? Mrs. H.: I liked art. In college I really liked history. Studying history and cultures teaches you how they contribute and influence things today. (I loved this because we are always telling our students how important it is to learn about the contributions of the ancient cultures we learn about!) Student: What makes architecture so interesting? Mrs. H.: You get to translate a person's ideas to paper and then to a 3 D building. You think about the rhythm of a building, the proportions. We don't like things out of proportion, usually. I like to think about the light that enters a room, the perception of the room when you first walk in, and the purpose of the building. Student: What kind of architecture do you like to do? Mrs. H.: I used to think I would like to work on churches. I love churches. Many magnificent buildings are churches. Now I work with residential buildings and I like that because I can take a person's ideas and feeling and bring them to life. I like modern architecture more than classical. I like clean, simple lines, streamline shapes. Our last ten minutes we looked at plans she brought, drawings of a house that were done quickly (beautifully proportioned and done free hand!), tools of the trade, a book on world architecture, and a construction drawing book. She let the students hold, touch and turn pages. They were thrilled.
Mrs. H. led us on a field trip that ignited so much interest and thinking. Thank you Mrs. H! We really have to do this more often.