Why teaching matters to me, by Darren Bray

‘I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.’ –Albert Einstein

 

Since becoming a fully qualified architect I have always kept myself involved with academia, through part time teaching, reviewing exam work and acting as a visiting lecturer at various universities. The more academic work I have been involved with the more I have realized that teaching is important to me, it is part of who I am and what I do and has a positive influence on the evolution of Studio BAD.

Part of the reason I love teaching is that it invigorates me. Students often have a seemingly naïve or fresh way of approaching problems that keeps me from getting stuck into an architectural rut. They also challenge me to be better, to teach better, to design better, as they are not easily impressed by my work experience they do not just accept my word but want proof. I find that by having to justify my ideas and views it makes me think harder.

I feel lucky that my teaching work makes my outlook more current, in this academic world of theory I am exposed to people who would normally be outside my natural sphere of the practice and we all bring different ideas together. In this space theories are explored, this is a luxury many small practices do not normally have the ability to do, often the time spent on the practicalities of running a small practice take over from the time we should really dedicate to critical thinking.

As cliché as it sounds I do also really like giving back, teaching allows me to do that. I am hugely aware of the positive impact my teachers had on me, they helped shape me to become what I am today and I do believe that without their belief in me pushing me forward I would not be a successful architect now. If I can pass this positive impact onto just one of my students then I will feel I have succeeded.

RIBA Black History Month

The RIBA, working in collaboration with Paradigm Network, celebrated Black History Month with a special book club held throughout October. I was honoured to be asked to take part in this event, the importance of this movement is inclusion, everyone should be passionate about the accessibility for all to increase diversity and ultimately to drive our industry forward.

 

The month was about us all appreciating and celebrating the achievements from the BAME communities, and championing professionals from all backgrounds in all sectors of society.

 

For the Book Club we were all asked to nominate a book or song that has had a profound effect on us as a way of showcasing the inspirational work from Black and Asian talent. I selected the book ‘The Black Album’ by the hugely talented Hanif Kureishi.

 

This book transports me back to a specific time in my life, of being 23 in my final year of my architectural degree at Portsmouth School of Architecture. It represents a period of awakening for me, I remember it being a wonderfully diverse cultural era in the 1990’s in terms of literature, music, art, architecture, film and of course my education.

 

I find Hanif Kureishi has such a wonderful way of dealing with some complex social issues around race, religion, sexuality and modern culture, painting the world through wonderfully colourful words and descriptions. I think it’s fair to say, his work has played a huge part in my learning and what I do now in practice.

 

There was a free webinar on Thursday 29th October where all the design leaders participating in the book club discussed their selection and how it has affected their practice, an interesting insight into what motivates and inspires design leaders.

 

RIBA Event Details