HOWARD TRENT SMITH portrait
  • Visiting Instructor, School Of Architecture
  • Adjunct Faculty, School Of Architecture
931-319-4647

Teaching Philosophy

Teaching is one of the most rewarding and exhilarating things that I have ever done, and the most frustrating and challenging occupations I know of. When I began teaching I had no idea just how much students fed off of your own passion and drive, and expertise was constantly being challenged by new technology and methodologies.
 
Responsibilities
To teach is to not only to claim expertise but also to be honest when confronted with new methods or technologies. One must be open to change in a humble and mentoring way. Students need to believe that the professor has their best interest at heart, even if it is in direct opposition to their academic desires. Trust is built in studio by honesty and critical feedback about students’ work and thought processes. To engage and to develop are my highest priorities in order to create a lively environment where students experiment and learn.
 
Teaching Methods
I have conducted teaching in a variety of methods and styles, from lecture/audience to lab environments, as well as individual education and training. I try to focus all methods towards action, with a question/answer style focus on content dissemination. Teaching students to seek problems, to ask questions, and to be critical is crucial in their educational and professional careers.  The focus on spurring action is a method I use to engage, so we often have impromptu group critiques, where the students are both presenter and critic, to help engage conversation between different peer groups.
 
Presentation Experience
In the design profession, project’s presentation needs as much care and thought as the project’s content. Interaction with peers and critics alike are extremely important feedback tools. As such, I am adamant that students experience every type of review format, including desk critiques, walk-around juries, seated formal juries, rotating group pin-ups, single juror critiques, blind peer review, judged competitions, and peer-to-peer critiques.
 
Collaboration
Just as the notion of the sole-architect/designer has all but vanished from the professional built design community, so too must the notion of the singular design student if they are to succeed outside of academic environments. Teamwork and coordination, and intrinsically tied is the communication of intent and the ability to change designs fluidly and quickly, must be coerced and nourished in the studio. I have found that scale increase in project size negates the question of if we should collaborate but creates a wonderful design atmosphere where the process immediately becomes engaging and collaborative out of necessity.
 
Juror Involvement
I work to bring outside reviewers into my studio critiques often, both to promote the class’s work but also to foster a relationship between students and ‘outside’ professionals. I give guests who are not seasoned critics a topic to critique on based on their specialty, whether that is presenting, formal architectural relations, contextual design, etc to give them guidance towards a specific pedagogical goal. 
 
The students are also taught to be critical of the feedback that they receive, and to be mindful that not all critics are created equal. However, new perspectives can only be given by someone from the outside looking in, and it is in those moments that the great epiphanies or even reinforcement of a professor’s advice is given new meaning, or immediate validation. Differing views force students to find their own design language, and voice, and how their intent is not being communicated efficiently, and how it can be improved for the next iteration or project.

Courses I Teach

  • ARCH 2630 - Basic Design Workshop
    This class is about the process of design. It is not about the design itself. It is concerned with the basic fundamentals that will teach you to observe, to record, and to create. You will be introduced to the design process and over the course of the semester you will develop your own approach and manipulation of this process. Mastery is never expected, but full exploration and experimentation of ideas is hoped for.