Critical Subjects
Apr16

Critical Subjects

Higher education is in crisis. This summer sees the launch of Critical Subjects, a new architectural Summer School placing the pursuit of knowledge and critical thinking at the core of education.   These are troubled times for higher education. In recent years the idea of pursuing knowledge for its own sake has found little support. Instead of creating an atmosphere supportive of open enquiry and free thinking, universities have...

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Of Pens and Tents: The Jaipur Literature Festival ’13
Feb13

Of Pens and Tents: The Jaipur Literature Festival ’13

By Mrinalini Shinde | 13 February 2013 “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.” – J.D. Salinger (Catcher in the Rye) Maybe not being terrific friends, and exchanging phone numbers, but from a personal viewpoint, the most...

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Think critically, design differently

‘Critical Subjects: Architecture & Design Winter School’: Organised by mantownhuman, 17/18 November 2010 Alastair Donald | 23 December 2010 Last month, 26 eager young architecture students from cities across England, Scotland and Wales converged on central London, only to find themselves held in a windowless, basement for 24 hours, where they were engaged in eight consecutive hours of discussion; kept up all night;...

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A Return to Critical Thinking

Austin Williams | 7 May 2010 This November will see the inaugural Winter School in London, organised by Mantownhuman to promote critical thinking and the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake in architectural education. Here, one of the School’s founders, Austin Williams, explains the inspiration behind the event.  Over the last 10 years or so, higher education has come to be seen as a mere route to a job, rather than a worthy thing...

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Corroding the Curriculum: Sustainability versus Education

Austin Williams | February 2010 (Academic Questions, Springer Link) This essay explores the ubiquity of the sustainability agenda in higher education in the United Kingdom (with some parallel examples from the United States) with a view to pointing out its corrosive influence on educational ambition. In so doing, I suggest that the prevalence of sustainability within education has only been possible because academia has lowered its...

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Political “stranger danger” in classrooms

Austin Williams | 10 August 2009 (The Australian) SCHOOLCHILDREN are being brainwashed with an environmental message in the classroom. Children are not just being pinned down in the classroom and force-fed what to think: it’s worse than that. The next generation – from primary schoolchildren through to college students – is being taught not to think, merely encouraged to accept the official line. It ought to be a...

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Sustainable Schools: a consultation paper

Austin Williams | 31 August 2006 Future Cities Project respond to ‘Sustainable Schools: for pupils, communities and the environment’, a consultation paper for the Department for Education and Skills (DfES). The opening pages of the consultation set out the agenda under discussion. It suggests that ‘issues that matter to young people, from the state of the local park to global warming, (be) used as a context for learning...

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The Academics of the Madhouse

Austin Williams | 31 March 2005 Revised criteria for university research funding are causing much protest. But is the solution being argued for any better? The ‘strictly private and confidential’ memo sent to Daily Telegraph staff in February outlined five criteria on which their performance and hence their status in the compulsory redundancy hierarchy would be judged. The five categories were: 1. Approach to work (their...

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