10 Rules for Students and Teachers


said by: Caroline Bozzi,  Jamie Ferello & Jordan Fitch

We recently came across the 10 Rules for Students, Teachers, and Life reposted on Intermedio's Instagram (spoiler alert - these awesome humans are coming to speak at SAID this semester... stay tuned). After a little research we found out that although this beautiful list is usually attributed John Cage, it originates from artist and educator Sister Corita Kent. If you are interested, Maria Popova has the story straight so check it out. That said, this list is touching, meaningful and right in line with, "let's get our stuff in line for this next semester."

We wanted to pass it along to you in hopes that it inspires you just as much as it did us. 

Good Luck - Work Hard - You'll do great! 




Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.

Find the place within yourself and trust it - believe in it.  Even if it’s for a little while. It’s one thing to trust an idea for an hour, or a moment.  But to trust for longer than that requires an investment.  It means you have to open yourself to critique, in ways you cannot if your contemplation is limited, finite, and without consequence. See what happens - it is probably better than the alternative: Tom Bible asking you what happened to the building you were drawing last week. 


General duties of a student —

pull everything out of your teacher;

pull everything out of your fellow students.

You are responsible for getting everything out of everyone around you. Your teachers are valuable, but your fellow students are sometimes even more valuable. While architecture school is by nature competitive, it is more about the spirit of competition than the dreaded cutthroat studio culture. Ask your classmates to look at your work, and learn to respond to their criticism. Furthermore, criticize constructively. Nothing makes you better like those 4 A.M. work sessions with your studio fam.


General duties of a teacher -

pull everything out of your students.

On the eve of an important deadline, Professor Hildebrandt once said, "Stay vertical - It keeps the horizon line at eye level."

Challenge us! (at least to a somewhat reasonable degree). Don't make us not sleep for weeks on end, but push us enough that we feel committed to making something actually worthy of a portfolio spread. 


Consider everything an experiment.

Remember that time that you built a final 1" = 1/16" scale model based on chaos theory for the midterm and it was destroyed by the critics?... it was just an experiment. Put something out there. You don't have any control over what's going to happen...It's more just experimentation and recognizing when it works. If it doesn't - well, it was just an experiment and now you know. The best part about school is that you're here to learn - playing it safe isn't doing you any favors, and you can't learn without having something to learn from.


Be self-disciplined —

this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them.

To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

We often forget that discipline comes from the word disciple - discipline is defined as "the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior". But it's impossible to be disciplined to all of the ideas and critiques and professors that swirl around us in school. Being self-disciplined is about learning what works for you, and upholding that best version of yourself.


Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.

This rule echoes rule number four - you're here to MAKE. If we're being honest, you usually learn more from a design that doesn't work than one that does. You might spend 24 hours on a claymation scene and only get 10 seconds of footage - but now you know that's probably not the ideal method for that video Udo assigned that's due tomorrow. 


The only rule is work.

If you work it will lead to something.

It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

We might be preaching to the choir here, but if you're not working hard at school, you're a) not taking full advantage of the privilege of education and b) not pulling your weight to make this experience the best it can be for your entire class. Nothing is stopping you from working hard and learning something, even if you're not really sure what the point of memorizing the architect, location, date, and style for over 500 buildings is. 


Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.

You'll never get anything done if you keep second guessing yourself along the way. Commit to an idea, even if it's a 2'x6' reverse-cast plaster site model of complex Cincinnati topography that you have no idea how you're going to flip over, much less transport to the grand stair for your crit.


Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.

Even though it may feel like hell sometimes, we'll let you in on a secret - it doesn't have to be! You gotta learn how to relax - this is supposed to be fun! After all, you could be majoring in something that involves dissecting owl pellets or sorting excel spreadsheets. You chose this and you are here for a reason - so put those negative thoughts in a box to the LEFT.


 “We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.” (John Cage)

There will always be another variable, and we will aways be prompted with designing for a dynamic variety of experiences within a cohesive approach. Embrace the challenges of whatever you think it is that architecture school is asking of you... or what you may not realize architecture school is asking of you?!? 

also, some helpful HINTS:

Always be around. 

Come or go to everything.

Always go to classes.

Read anything you can get your hands on.

Look at movies carefully, often.

Save everything — it might come in handy later.

ListicleGSA SAID