Can the importance of, and possibly the profession of Architecture be introduced before Architecture school/college to school children?
Architecture as a profession can be defined as a platform where science and art merge. Architects use the many skills, children learn at school, to play and create at this platform. The curriculum for architecture is introduced at the bachelor of degree level and pursued further for advanced studies. Can this introduction be done at an earlier level; perhaps during the schooling years? And what would be its merits?
The introduction can be brought in from the level of pre-school to high-school, with the tasks increasing in complexity based on the students’ potentials. Having a subject based on architecture and design can have many advantages, starting from personal development, to improving the life of a community. Participation is the key to an architectural course for children. Many existing programs across the world offer courses on architecture for children (a few are listed below).
Critical thinking: The workshops on architectural thinking focus on Design and critical thinking. How to analyze and swift through data to tackle the problems and derive at their solutions. The skill of design is relooking at everyday things and tweaking the necessary to make life simpler. It boosts imagination and stimulates creativity.
Games &Teamwork: Most programs and workshops on Architecture for children, use games extensively as a means of exploring, learning, and collaborating with their classmates. Children are encouraged to do hands-on work to thoroughly understand a material; its texture, strength and weakness, and to understand the importance of structure to any construction. The hands-on tasks also help improve the fine motor skills and teamwork in children. Learning how to work in a team generates tolerance and mutual learning amongst the various students. Communication is a key skill in tackling group activities and tasks.
Individual Connect: An individual need to build their own space to learn of their physical requirement, in terms of space, light, ventilation, and comfort level. Through building, they understand the various sciences involved in converting a space to an emotion. Building their own space with bare minimum helps in understanding the importance of sustaining themselves using the available resources and also makes them realize how technology-dependent we humans have become to attain our level of comforts. This teaches them the benefits of using only what is required in minimum and to respect the nature around us.
Means of Expression: Children in the younger grades are introduced to architecture through means of drawing and color. This provides them with a new form of expressing themselves. The children are encouraged to play with building blocks to understand the various scales, inter-relation between spaces, proportions, and compositions. The building blocks provide an alternative to the electronic gadgets which recent generation is hooked onto. The reusability of the blocks also teaches them to reuse materials rather than demolishing the existing and exploiting new materials.
History & Culture: Architecture is another form of art. It is a means of freezing time and culture in space. Architectural monuments speak of the time past and the values of the era bygone. Studying the evolution of a built form or space can teach children a lot more than the texts in history books. Re-creating the spaces and its functions can paint a better scenario of the past, in the minds of these young children. This will also create a sense of connection with the ancestral structures and help in conserving them.
Community Development: Besides personality development, architecture can be used to also tackle urban level problems. The children are taught to explore their surroundings, critically and crucially analyze, and question everything around them to identify issues in their neighborhood. They then come up with solutions for the same. Adults often take things for granted based on their reasoning, without questioning it. The skill of critically analyzing and questioning helps in dealing with reasoning to create something new out of the existing scenario. The skill of critical analysis is helpful in everyday life and in transforming our environment. Children can be guided to document urban issues like homelessness, poverty, lack of public open spaces and can develop better systems to solve these urban questions. This involvement at such a young stage encourages them to become better citizens of our nation.
Architecture and design as a subject must be introduced before Architecture school. It can help children with the skills of decision-making, taking action to bring about a change, stepping up to responsibilities, and learning to see opportunities. The children would also learn values of tolerance, collaboration, and cooperation with their fellow students. The skills of observation and critical thinking will help them provide better solutions to create a better space to live in.
Initiative for Tomorrow’s Opportunities in architecture; ITJUKU
Workshops for girls, boys, and young people; CHIQUITECTOS
The School of Architecture for Children; Sicily SOU
National SchoolsProgram; RIBA