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History of Architecture

During my days as a student, I had three courses of history of art, one of history
of architecture, one of history of industrial design and two of history of all before
mention in Mxico. All of them were imparted by different professors with
different methods. Even I know they are pretty obvious and wide-known, I am
going to describe them adding what I saw during the courses:

a) Chronology method focusing on a culture: Lets say the first two weeks the
culture was Greek. We learned everything according to the chronology and then
we started over again with another culture. This is traditional method, very
effective but not perfect. I believe it might be more useful for people that are
really into history, i.e. people taking a master on history of architecture or art.
Why? Undergraduate want courses to be more practical and even every
architecture, industrial design or art student enjoy learning about what has been
done, it is always better to "feel it" rather than "force it". My classmates used to
be sleeping during courses, without taking notes about the important details.
They only have to knew what was the topic about and then look for it later
obviously is not the same, but it worked, so the course was kind of nonsense for

b) Inverse chronology: I have one course with this methodology. It was

interesting but I would not recommend it. Most of the student were more worried
because of the chronology rather than understanding the topic. The typical
questions where: So this was before what we saw last week? (Even when it was
obvious), It is important to know the exact date? Or, why did they did it this way
if they have done it better in the example before? (This was frustrating)

It is confusing, and it is not for everybody.

c) Not caring about chronology: I had a professor that used to ask students to
give a presentation about their favourite culture, artistic/design/architectural
movement, everyday. The students had at least two weeks to prepare it, and if
they made a mistake, or something was confusing, the professor gave the right
explanation. At the end, the professor located the topic in the line time and world
map, and also gave a "curious fact" like: in that age, Coco Chanel was so popular
that you can find buildings, or art inspired in her; or during the world wars the
element chrome was limited because they used it to make the colour green of
the uniforms and tanks, so there were really few things for the citizens in this
metal or green coloured, the cigarretes Lucky Strike is one example of this.

This kind of facts made student remember easily what they have learned.

The problem about this kind of method, is that no every student is born to teach.
Some students are really hard to understand. And also you miss important topics
that should be learned.

I believe there is not a perfect method, because every student thinks different,
specially in these creative areas. However, there is a common denominator in
every student. Try to think as a child does. If you were going to learn about
history of the Incas, in which way you would like to learn it? Try to be more
practical, spontaneous, surprise your students so they will be always awake. Be
formal. Follow the traditional way respecting the chronology, but do not force it.
Mix it student presentations. Make connections, organice tours at your local
museums, parks, communities and the city. Everything we have nowadays have
its own history that we cannot criticize, just learn from it. In this way, students
become aware of the importance of it and forget the fact it is just another
course. Teaching is about making a difference. It is about awakening ideas in
students that they didn't know they had. It is about preparing them for the
future, or even better, it is preparing humanity's future. The method is not the
most important, all of us have one even without noticing it.

I love history of art, design and architecture. Usually I do not care about the
method because I enjoy it, however I think it is more important to find the right
questions than the right answers, it is not the same to know where are the
biggest rivers in the world than why there are big rivers, or why they are
wherever they are.

I hope it helped.