Rebels of the Resistance

Why do I resist change?

The me of my high school would not have been able to understand the me of my Master’s program. Not only from a vocabulary standpoint but also from enthusiasm. I went through the motions of high school being told that it was a series of steps to college. Now I can learn through my own exploration. But how did this happen?

Well I resisted the whole way. I thought in a binary manner, that I either agreed or disagreed – there was no spectrum of understanding. In high school I was never given any agency over assignments or processes and passively went through learning (if that’s what it was).

When I came to Virginia Tech for a degree in Architecture, I was not ready for it. The first day they brought us all into the large auditorium and we were told to make the color gradient (white to black with percent greys). I did not even know what that was! I had never taken an art class before. I had been pre-med until a summer internship showed me the possibility of architecture and design.

But I learned it. It was not pretty, and I grumbled the whole way. But I feel a little bit of a protective wall was broken away. I had shielded myself from thinking, as if thinking got in the way of learning (this is wrong I now know). That thinking would hinder me from understanding the teacher’s decision of what was right and wrong. After seeing this color gradient project, I wondered what design could be.

I awkwardly made my way through the first year introductory courses. I had no idea really what I was doing or why, but I began to develop a process of design. My second year, being the sophomore (wise-fool) I was, had a bumpy ride and thought I would drop out. However in my third year I found (with guidance) a renewed interest in design using LaserCAMM software and computer modeling. I began to realize that I was being guided into developing my own architecture. That architecture and learning was not linear. That I could develop my own style of learning.

In 4th year I took a graduate course in Environmental Design Research and then applied that knowledge in studio. This studio project was an elderly housing development and we developed a proposal for an actual client. It was then I realized that these prompts and projects were attached to real people and their desires and hopes.

From what I learned in 4th year, I took the concept of micro-housing and ran with it for my thesis (you design your own thesis prompt and develop it with guidance and review from professors and peers). My 5th year thesis was a micro house and then I applied it to the principles I learned in environmental design. I would make this project to further my learning, but also be able to show others the design’s potential.

It took me five years to de-school myself and fully realize I could guide my own learning. Now I can look at an article, look at drawings, listen to a lecture and synthesis an understanding of material. I can guide others and be guided by them. By throwing away the shield that protected my prideful nature in first year, I now can take pride in my work.

In my Master’s program I have designed my own learning. I went out and sought something greater than simply meeting the base requirements (I would have done the minimum in high school) and I, with others who are similarly minded, are building my undergraduate thesis project which is now applies to my current research in color theory and vegetated walls. Without my experiences in undergrad I would not have been open to designing my own learning.

For that I am grateful.

[thanks for listening]

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1 Response to Rebels of the Resistance

  1. gareth00 says:

    I think that for many people there is a bit of maturing or realizing your place that has to take place before we can be ready to learn. I seem to have taken a path much like yours, making it through high school by the skin of my teeth but now I love learning. It can be problematic at times but I am constantly looking for something new to discover and I love the process!

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