Expanding your Learning Styles

Iroda Karimova said in earnest that she misses my crits! (!?!!??)

As per my prior post, Iroda Karimova said in earnest (while I was visiting the Hampton University Department of Architecture two weeks ago) that she misses my crits! (!?!!??)

Because I’m an active blogger I’m forever getting the question, “Do you ever work?”

The answer is yes; here’s a quick example.

My former student int he Department of Architecture at Hampton University, Iroda Karimova, emailed this to me from her smart phone today:

It was also nice to talk to you too. We haven’t see you for a while. I hope you are enjoying your oversea experience. I sometimes read your blogs, to see how you we doing.

Yes sometimes I wish I could hear your critiques, especially when I did good :). Your critiques were short, to the point, emphasizing important accomplishments, and sometimes not too enjoyable but helpful.
 Thank you for sending me this post.
 See you soon.
Whew! It sounds like I was doing my job correctly. Part of that  job is to help students learn to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. I’ve got to challenge them to address weaknesses I see. Effective teaching requires a careful balance of challenge and support (Sanford, 1962). I aim to provide that and to help students reach just a bit farther than they are comfortable doing (this is called a “plus-one” approach to teaching).
Good students, like Iroda, recognize that challenges are presented to help them grow and that the professor’s main role is to help guide them in their own learning. Receiving critique is never pain free, but it is necessary for growth and development.
Here’s the very quick reply I dashed off:
Thanks for your note, Iroda!  

You always do excellent work.  I wanted to make sure to help you reach for the stars, though.  You’re really terrific at technical ways of thinking.  As a second-year instructor, my job is to try to help students develop fluency in multiple ways of thinking… particularly the ways they find foreign or uncomfortable.

I’ve attached a chart to explain (it’s from a paper I was working on Tuesday). Most students come to college very good at one corner/quadrant of the chart. You were exceptionally good at Convergent thinking. I’d say you left second year with new skills in that realm, but more importantly, with new skills in the other three quadrants as well.
Below is a chart I made to describe Kolb’s (1984) theory. It is based on a similar chart published by Evens, Forney, and Guido-DiBrito (1998). You can read more in the paper I created for the National Conference on the Beginning Design Student (MADE Proceedings Chance Writing Architecture). If you reference it, please cite the source. The citation for the paper is:

CHANCE, S.M. (2010).Writing architecture: The role of process journals in architectural education. MADE: Design education and the art of making (160‐170). Charlotte, NC: College of Arts + Architecture. Presented at the 26th National Conference on the Beginning Design Student in Charlotte, NC.

Kolb chart by Shannon Chance

Third Spaces of Smithfield

Browse the bookshelf.

A good “third space” helps fill the gap left between your home (your first space) and your workplace (your second space).  It should be a place where everyone feels welcome and equal–regardless of income or social status.

I learned about third spaces from one of my thesis advisees at Hampton University, Ryan Kendall, who asserted that we lack adequate third spaces in the USA.  He proposed to transform our beautiful (but increasingly vacant) Post Office buildings into vibrant spaces. He wanted them to be used for socializing, learning, developing physically, and yes, mailing things (in old- and new-fashioned ways). Prior to his thesis year, Ryan worked at NASA Langley. That happened the summer after he completed the Comprehensive Design Studio that I taught alongside Robert Easter. Ryan was a smashing success with NASA.  And the NASA folks have kept coming back, asking for more and more HU interns and for our department’s help on various design projects.

Ryan Kendall in his job at NASA Langley.

Ryan’s main point?

In the States we often neglect our third spaces… or fail to create them all together.

I’ve found that fostering “third space” is a core tradition in Ireland.  The pub has long served this purpose.

When Dave and I visited Ireland in 2003, we saw entire families spend their evenings engrossed in meaningful conversations with neighbors and friends at the various pubs we visited.  Kids ran in and out and people of all ages mingled happily and comfortably.  Although pub culture is not as strong today (the smoking ban took a tool on the pubs), it’s something you can still find in many places.

I’m fortunate to have several great third spaces very close to my apartment here in Dublin’s Smithfield neighborhood, a district also known by its postal code, “Dublin 7.”

My favorite third space is the Cobblestone pub.  Another–where I’m starting to spend more and more time–is aptly called Third Space.

Third Space: changing the city around the table.

Bring some friends. Enjoy the art.

A webpage for the Third Space restaurant explains:

Our story starts in the changes Dublin saw in the “noughties”. Lots of new apartment blocks, lots of new offices and retail units – no gathering places. Living space and working space but no “third space”.

Third spaces are neighbourhood places where people can gather regularly, easily, informally and inexpensively.

Re-introducing such places into areas that lacked them became a passion for a small group of people. And so was born Third Space. It is a social business venture to open and run eating and meeting places in the areas of Dublin that lack community hubs. With a simple and great menu and an informal friendly environment, they will have a creative buzz that connects into the varied life of a modern Dublin neighborhood.

Third Space 1 opened in Smithfield on February 14th 2012.

I had an interesting encounter at both of my “third spaces” this week.  I’ll post them,  so you can see what I mean. Stay tuned! (Click here to read the sequel.)

Grab a lunch. Everyone’s welcome and they’ll make you feel at home… even a barrister (i.e., lawyer, shown to the left) can find a quite place to reflect on the day, away form the busy halls of the Four Courts.