authoritative guide to careers in art and architecture education


if the glasses fit . . .

Schools of art and architecture are fascinating places, run by faculty and staff that ostensibly have so much in common, and who work for what are arguably common goals—and yet they display such distinct behavior, often apparently at odds with one another, although these tend to be kept relatively below the surface (or at least not at full boil) in the cause of collegiate collegiality.  But activities that are latent in the diverse petri dish of the average Art and Architecture School become more pronounced when members of each discipline travel to meet with their own kind.  With academic conference season upon us, MoT’s Department of Professional Anthropology has fanned out across the country to observe the annual rituals of professional groups dedicated to the teaching in art and architecture programs.

In their natural habitats, species display certain attributes of herd mentality; when observed and quantified, these behaviors may be helpful for your consideration.  This is a public service to our readership, not only to define such behaviors to increase awareness of the special qualities of these special creatures, but also as a service to those who may currently (or who aspire to) hold a position in one of these institutions.  The following will help you know if you made the right choice, and if not, if you need to modify your behavior–or your job.  Alternately, it may assist those contemplating a future in such a career, or aid therapy sessions for families that find themselves with a professor in their midst.

Although the following mechanism is presented in quiz format, it is not a quiz (neither is it “pirate guidelines”); it is a definitive tool, and you should plan your life according to its results.


How do you describe you tribe’s demographics?

A.  dudes who think we’re progressive for hiring, like, 25-33% girls (but seriously, we’re mostly dudes)

B.  gender is such a fluid concept!

C.  we’re mostly sensitive (some might say “delicate”) men and mannish women

D.  we plan to file a grievance for having been asked that question

E.  suits!

F.  why aren’t there more ladies around here?

What is your beverage of choice?

A.  green tea

B.  three shots of espresso, or shiraz in a juice glass

C.  latte

D.  macchiato—but they never make it right

E.  Scotch

F.  Folger’s or can of beer

What is your favorite scent?

A.  fear

B.  varnish

C.  old book

D.  skepticism

E.  hierarchy

F.  pine

What is your neckwear?

A.  demure scarf

B.  crazy scarf

C.  bowtie

D.  severe jewelry

E.  tie

F.  beard

What brings you to tears?

A.  light

B.  color

C.  seeing it in person

D.  you assume I weep just because I am a woman?  I’m calling the AAUW

E.  missed opportunity

F.  fire


What is the last thing you read?

A.  I didn’t really “read” so much as “look at the pictures”

B.  gallery wall text

C.  another call for papers/proposals/grants

D.  a critical essay published in an obscure journal

E.  results of my latest assessment project

F.  directions

What was the last thing you wrote?

A.  blog entry on a house designed by a classmate for his mom

B.  it more of a word-picture than, you know, “words”

C.  a 2,000-page manuscript that seven academic presses have turned down

D.  a scathing review of my office partner’s most recent publication

E.  it included words like “vision,” “analysis,” “projection,” and “ideate”

F.  it was in marker and taped to the wall

You believe education is:

A.  communicated by osmosis.

B.  a matter of inspiration and innate gifting.

C.  image-driven.

D.  image-driven and usually subject to outmoded expectations of gender politics and West-centric assumptions—except in my classes.

E.  a marketable product.

F.  best on an apprenticeship model.

You think distance learning

A. would destroy the sanctity of my sacred teaching space and the rituals I perform with my acolytes.

B.  is OK, if they already figured out how to do it in New York or Los Angeles.

C.  would push me over the edge.  I already adapted to PowerPoint, what more do you want from me???

D.  probably doesn’t work, but if it means I can do everything on-line and move from this crummy Midwestern campus town to Paris, sign me up.

E.  is a cash cow.  And by that I mean, it appears to be an opportunity for pedagogical innovation and delivery of measurable achievement goals that will have a beneficial result for student learning and university programming within the parameters of the university’s mission statement.

F.  is sort of limited by the length of my extension cord.


You packed

A.  every black knit pullover I own, and one charcoal sweater to add a punch of color.  And at the last minute.

B.  ironically.

C.  50 term papers that need to be graded before midterms are due.

D.  fabulous shoes—lots of them.

E.  actually, my wife does that for me.

F.  flannel (without irony).

What does your conference emphasize?

A.  method

B.  criticism

C.  content

D.  theory

E.  vision

F.  making

Your workshops focus on:

A.  computational strategies

B.  haptic experience

C.  varied interpretations of the built environment

D.  theory in past practice

E.  pie charts and tie tacks

F.  “work” and “shop”

Between conference sessions, you can be found

A.  at Starbucks, tapping my iPhone.

B.  behind the conference hotel, instagramming the garbage bins.

C.  down the block, taking photographs.

D.  outside, smoking and frowning.

E.  everywhere, networking.

F.  with everyone else, talking shop.

When a presenter makes a bold claim that challenges your field’s canon, your response is to:

A.  shrug it off; what’s a ‘canon,’ anyway?

B.  hug him

C.  roll my eyes and audibly sigh, then rip his argument to shreds–with friends at the hotel bar later

D. stand and applaud (if the claim supports my politics) or start a Twitter campaign to have his tenure revoked (if the claim challenges my politics)

E.  wonder if this will become a “best practice” by next year, in which case, I’d better call a meeting to revise the strategic plan

F.  warn him to be careful; he could lose a finger

My conference is held in:

A.  New York or Berlin

B.  New York or Los Angeles

C.  Charleston or Philadelphia

D.  New York or some place that is regrettably not New York

E.  Pebble Beach or Vail

F.  Franklin, IN or Bumble, ME

What happens during your absence from campus?

A.  ten students gain four additional hours on Facebook

B.  fifteen students make an impromptu field trip to Starbuck’s

C.  fifty students spend an extra hour in studio (checking Facebook)

D.  one hundred students sleep in

E.  no one notices

F.  everyone freaks out until I return

You know the routine.  Which ever letter you marked most frequently will reveal your proper place in the wild and wooly wacky world of Art and Architecture School.

A.  You are (or should be) an architectural design studio professor

B.  You are (or should be) an art studio professor

C.  You are (or should be) an architectural historian

D.  You are (or should be) an art historian

E.  You are (or should be) a university administrator

F.  You are (or should be) a woodshop supervisor

Do be a dear and let us know how much we’ve helped.


One thought on “authoritative guide to careers in art and architecture education

  1. I have long suspected that I am, or should be, an art historian. But one with surprising sympathies for wood shop supervisors. And more than a little respect for people who come up with these things.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s