Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The argument against becoming an architect

The second time that I went back to school I had to take a speech class. I hadn't taken it the first time around because despite being told that speech was a requirement of all degree plans I found out that it wasn't a requirement of my first choice major. And I really didn't like talking in front of people, so I didn't take it.

Okay, so it's back to school to take a few things. And the class itself turned out to be a lot of fun. It was just those two speeches that we had to give that made me very nervous, and the grades that you got from those two speeches made up like half the grade for the whole class.

The first speech could about anything you wanted. My first speech was about dogs. And it was okay, and I got a good grade, and that made me less nervous about doing the second speech.

The second speech could also be on a variety of subjects, but the second speech had to be an argumentative speech.

Right now, I can't even remember what my second speech was about. I put so much work into it, and now I don't even remember it.

The other students argued for or against abortion, for or against legalizing marijuana, changing the drinking age, etc.... A few of the students had other ideas.

And then this guy stood up to argue against studying to be an architect. And it seemed like the silliest thing to have an argumentative speech about. Except that when he spoke his voice contained somewhat restrained...something. I don't know what to call it. Anger. Venom. Disgust.

I don't know. Something unpleasant anyway.

First he spoke about the initial bit of going to college (which I can't remember if he said he'd done four years or six years), of the time involved, and the money involved, etc... And then he spoke of how it was a very specific course of study good for becoming an architect and pretty much only for becoming an architect. If you study to become an architect and do not actually become an architect, you've wasted many years of your life, while if you pick a different major and end up not getting the job that was your first choice the degree might still be useful for something else.

And then he spoke about being an apprentice. He spoke about having to work for an architect for about minimum wage, and how you are supposed to work for this architect for a year and learn things from him so that you can move on to the next stage.

Only you aren't actually paid to learn stuff about architecture, you are paid to do whatever the architect tells you to do. And the particular architect he got stuck with didn't teach him anything and made him do dumb stuff like make coffee. You expect to do dumb stuff like make coffee, but you expect to do other stuff, and you expect to learn from what you are doing and not just be some guy's slave for minimum wage. So he didn't learn whatever he was supposed to learn from the guy, and he was unable to go on to the next step in becoming an architect.

I suppose there is some process to request a second year to apprentice with a different architect, but he didn't do that. For one thing, there was no guarantee that the second architect would be anymore helpful than the first one. But the main thing for the guy giving this speech was that he had not only run out of money, but he had maxed out all of his credit cards and also needed a new car. He wasn't able to pay his bills that first year with a minimum wage job, and there was no way he could work for minimum wage a second year.

So there he was, like me, back in college taking speech class, cause he hadn't needed speech class to be an architect, but he would probably need it for whatever his major was in his second degree.

At the time I was just really shocked, but I have since heard similar things about other career paths.


dmarks said...

"He spoke about having to work for an architect for about minimum wage"

Frank Lloyd Wright found an even better racket: he got the apprentices to pay him to work for him.

laughingattheslut said...

I wonder if the apprentices learned anything (other than FLW was an a**).

I figured that one out myself, and I didn't even have to make him coffee.

Ananda girl said...

I bet he was super frustrated. I can only imagine how awful that would be. But what a creative subject.

I did not want to take speech.
I hate to talk in front of people, but in my line of work, it's a good thing I took it. I'm talking to groups of people all the time.

I guess we all end up doing stuff we think we'll hate and then find it's a good thing or at least not as bad as we thought.

dmarks said...

laughing asked: "I wonder if the apprentices learned anything (other than FLW was an a**)."

Not many of them learned that he was an a** I think. He had enough charm or something to get away with a lot of crap that other people would not get away with. The ones I have read in books talk like it was the time of their lives when they were with Wright at Taliesin. I had a couple of friends (now deceased) who were there too (one an apprentice who became a practicing architect, the other Wright's cook) and they loved the experience also.

There are some dissenters, true, but they don't get into print as often. I would imagine that Wright's first wife was quite livid when he ran off with a client's wife.