From the Classroom – Oration: speaking history

From the Classroom – Oration: speaking history

Working as as an Architect for Colleges and Universities and as a Professor of Architecture allows me to experience the classroom, department, and university-wide experience first-hand – and to participate in its evolution.

Notes from Teaching History and Theory of Architecture, 1850-1932, at Norwich University, Fall 2015 –

On reading, speaking, and memory:

We are reading the way marathon runners run. We are doing so much reading in this class that we have to read and learn in a different way. Why? We read Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains the first week of class. Carr appears to be a proponent of extensive reading.

The word ‘orate’ now has a negative meaning. But what we’re exploring in History and Theory of Architecture, 1850-1932 is whether speaking and writing history and writing notations in our texts will help improve our memory.

Writing, yes, all history teachers ask for writing. We’re writing 200-word essays – a manageable size for architecture students. But speaking? We would all probably prefer not to speak aloud, at least to a group.  How are we going to remember the names of these architects? They are abstract symbols until the words form in our mouths and until we hear our friend say them.

We each have a way to get ourselves to read. Is it good reading? By blind poll of a show of hands: 70% NO.

Carr discusses the “anti-intellectual” contingent of academia. I’d never heard of this before.

What is worth our time to learn?

Can speaking history aloud help us remember history?