MAKING CONNECTIONS

photoHigh school freshman; what makes them tick?  I was asked to speak to two classes at an inner city school about the value of education in preparing for a career.  I looked forward to the opportunity.  It had been a number of years since last addressing one of my own children’s high school classes. I have since spoken frequently to collegiate classes about careers after college.

This was different.  These weren’t college students; these weren’t high school upperclassmen AP students.  These were regular kids, freshmen, one semester into high school, that have been sent off to school because that’s what kids do.  Freshmen are the bottom of the barrel and generally feel it and look it. I had been there.

But what I wasn’t expecting was the listless gaze. Not angry, not rude, not bored, not put off for having to listen to another guy in a suit; they just seemed to be there to go through the motions. So, how do you connect?  How do you get their interest?

I turned one of the desk chairs and sat there facing them.  Instead of lecturing them about what I do, I asked them the questions.  I had brought a few brochures of BRW work, photos and renderings of projects.  Asking them about the pictures was a break through.  A few had been to the zoo and seen the elephant exhibit but architect and elephants were hard to figure.  One recognized a rendering of their school. Another recognized a rendering of a school under construction.  She named the street where the school is being built. The pictures told the story and explained a career far more than words.

As I was pointing at the projects, touching on the elementary basics of architecture, I began to feel the stares from two young guys.   When I glanced their way, their eyes did not waver but remained intent on my words.  Their shyness prevented them from asking or responding to any questions but there was curiosity in their expressions.  Maybe I connected.

POSTED BY: CRAIG S. REYNOLDS, FAIA

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