The ‘gap’ between university and practice is a hot topic of discussion in the architectural community worldwide. A large part of this discussion focuses on scrutinising everything that Architecture School doesn't teach you - but practice does. The phrase I've heard architects and graduates use time and time again when talking to students is that:
"You'll learn more in your first year of practice than you ever did in architecture school."
It's true there’s things you won’t learn at Architecture School. But let me ask - did you really plan on studying for 5 years, and then learning nothing more and just going through the motions day in and day out for the next 45 years? Probably not. I certainly plan on - and revel in - learning something new every single day. On the flipside, that doesn't mean I don't value my time at architecture school immensely.
It's interesting to me how much my perspective on learning about architecture, and about what is important, changes over time. After a few years in practice now, I feel like I'm fairly well positioned to assess, from my own experience, not just what but also how I learnt at university, versus the what and how of learning in practice.
And to me - the idea that you'll learn more in 1 year of practice in an architecture firm than you will do in 5 years of study just isn't true. It's a myth.
THE MYTH OF LEARNING ABOUT ARCHITECTURE
This post isn't about content - the quantifiable 'stuff' you learn - in either situation, or about how well architecture school 'prepares' you for practice. Instead, I'm going to unpack for you:
- why I think it is a myth that you learn more in practice;
- the conditions that perpetuate this myth; and
- why it's a dangerous way to think - not matter what stage you're at in your journey.
I hope that in doing so, you'll understand that it's just a myth, and doesn't have to be your reality!
Instead of falling prey to the myth, you can choose to be strategic in your education, and take the driving seat in your architectural journey.