Griffin, Alexander (2013) Teach Creatively, Learn Creativity: The Non-Assessed Field Trip. In: AAE Association of Architectural Educators Conference 2013, 3rd-5th April 2013, Nottingham, UK. (Unpublished)

The story is a familiar one. A student starts an architecture course because of their creative interests only to find that their passions are overshadowed by the distraction of attaining a good grade. One can empathize with any student who succumbs to the Death Star-like gravitational pull of measured achievement; quantifying ability by means of attributing letters and percentages is axiomatically ingrained in almost all teaching systems and affects schools throughout the world.

Giving recognition to those who have worked hard is valuable and important. Likewise, endeavouring to raise standards in education is beyond doubt a worthy pursuit. However, extrinsic constraints restrain creativity within education by definition. The sour taste often associated with measuring aptitude is no more unsavoury than in the mouths of the creative artists. The challenge for teachers of the creative arts, therefore, is how to embrace a pedagogy that promotes creative thinking and design whilst developing a culture that recognises the merits of evaluation rather than measurement.

The School of Architecture at the University of Huddersfield responds to this challenge by programming a field trip into the curriculum early in the first academic year, which does not require students to produce assessable coursework. The purpose of the field trip is to heighten the student’s creative aptitude and to enable peer bonding across the year. In recent years students have visited the Netherlands. The field trip is an experiential learning opportunity that embraces creative critical thinking. Looking, pointing and discussing why some buildings appear aesthetically pleasing or why other buildings do not fall over is a highly beneficial educational tool. Enabling or even prising out these discussions in a relaxed unfettered group environment releases passion for architecture.

This paper draws on recent non-assessed field trips and describes how the trip can be used as a method of educating students of architecture in a manner that heightens creativity and liberates students from the compulsion to please those who grade their work.

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