A hundred years after the birth of the first Italian School of Architecture (Rome, 1919), the conference proposes: an assessment of the state of architecture teaching in Italy today, to make a comparison with other models, European and non-European and to verify possible evolutionary or alternative lines.
“Teaching and practice of Architecture”
3-4 June, 2019
Accademia di San Luca
Piazza Accademia di S. Luca, 77, Roma
Today Italian schools of architecture are going through a serious structural crisis related to the professional preparation of students and the quality of teaching. Professional education of students: The causes of its weakness are to be found above all in the inadequacy of the educational curricula with respect to the increasing complexity of the profession, of the mode of production of the architectural project, of the construction of buildings and of the urban scene.
The quality of teaching: The inability of the present teaching programs to train young professionals is directly linked to its current recruitment of teachers that promotes the co-optation of professors without professional experience. Less and less are the teachers that have an active professional practice, since the crisis of the profession drives them in most cases to opt for the so-called “full time”, an all-Italian anomaly in Europe that inhibits them from practicing the profession.
Among the consequences: the drastic drop in enrollments which, according to the data processed by the CNA (National Council of Architects) and by the CUIA (Italian University Architecture Conference) decreased from 2008 to 2017 by 40%, going from about 84,000 to about 50,000 out of a total of 22 Schools!
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN EDUCATION AND RESEARCH
So it happened that progressively the education was not anymore the moment in which the teacher reported his professional experience and research useful for the professional training of the students, but gradually identified with the research itself “using” the students as performers of activities useful only to the disciplinary interests of the teachers themselves. In a recent conference on “The practicioners in the university” it emerged clearly the gradual detachment of the teachers from the social reality and its needs. And so in Italy the idea is growing that university teaching should increasingly involve, directly or indirectly, those who do research outside the university (private studios, companies, etc.), to establish a credible contact with the needs of civil society.
The central hypothesis for solving these problems is to place at the top of the teaching pyramid the professional figure one wants to form, to which the different disciplines must compete in a hierarchical form, separating from this objective their specific research utilities. This will necessarily imply the revision of the current curricula and the introduction of the internship according to the recent EU recommendations.
A NEW EDUCATION MODEL
The need for a new educational model emerges forcefully in Italy that is based on: on the individual relationship between teacher and student, on the design studio activity related to applied research; on the relationship with the profession, in which “to know” and “to know how” go hand in hand; and in which applied research is fundamental inthe transmission of knowledge. A fundamental condition for achieving this goal is the possession of a “long knowledge”, not specialized, able to respond to many requests, to know how to adapt to various situations and stresses. A knowledge that in the USA is called STEAM, an educational approach to learning that uses science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics as access points to guide student research, dialogue and critical thinking.
The students trained in this way are able to take risks through reflection, to engage in experimental learning, to insist on solving problems, to be open to collaboration and to use a creative approach.
But in Italy the real obstacle to achieving this goal is the “legal value of the university degree” which remains the stone guest in all the debates: untill it will be an obligation, the road to authentic reform will remain precluded.