Architectural Blatherations

The Internet Makes Students Stupid

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The Good Oil

What a wonderful thing the Internet is. How else could Dr Garry get his ravings published (ok, sometimes they let us do it in real books)? Journal articles are now much more easy to find online than in dusty volumes. Course notes, news and teaching aids are also probably better provided online. But have you thought of the vast downside, the dumbing of the architecture student?

Never the brightest bulbs

Architecture students (like Dr Garry!) have never been the most lucid of scholars, being forever seduced by pretty images, and self-indulgent Ayn Randian notions of promethean creation instead of some sort of intellectual criticality. Compared to their uni {college, school, varsity} colleagues in— well, anything really— they aren't that questing, and the education they receive bears no resemblance to the critical thinking that even the most ingenuous student fresh from high-school would receive in a Bachelor of Arts at the most podunk of colleges.

We aren't denigrating architecture students: no one goes to architecture school because they want to write lengthy essays on Corb, or calculate second moments of area in tedious examinations. They want to design buildings. Fair enough.

The Internet does not help

Not being inclined to hefty academic work in the first place, architecture students have only become lazier thanks to the Internet. When Dr Garry was setting assignments {essays, term papers} on the Modern Movement back in his professorial days, his students at least made an effort to go to the library and borrow a few books. And read them!

Today, a student who cannot Google the question in a few minutes declares it too hard, impossible. How many students would simply click through the Wikipedia— which is a decent place to start looking, but a terrible place to stop— instead of perusing the writings of Jencks or Frampton or Pevsner or Summerson or Giedion or Mumford or Alexander?

As a result, students are impatient, demanding and child-like. When is the assignment due? Rather than ferret through their printouts or course material, they send an email to the lecturer {professor} at two o'clock in the morning. The email usually ends with some rude imperative along the lines of Please respond asap.

Plagiarism is made so much easier. Before the Internet, a student had to least copy out other people's words into their own work. The information passed through their eyes to their brain and back to their pen. Scant a time as it may have spent being intellectually digested, the student nonetheless absorbed something. With cut-and-paste, the information barely enters the student's consciousness.