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Teaching and Learning

Theory and Method .. The overriding goal is to make the entry-level profession accessible in the short time students are here – every course emphasizes the assimilation of fundamental core principles, methods, and skills.

I hear and I forget.

I see and I remember.

I do and I learn.

Maria Montessori

What you do 

speaks so loudly

that I cannot hear what you say.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The primary goal of teaching is to challenge students to become fully invested in their professional education through a balanced program of rigorous academic study, enrichment of physical talents, and creative personal expression. In their learning, students are asked to explore the overlapping spheres of the Socratic approach, with free give and take between student and professor, and the Case Study approach with its precedent, rules of thought and specified recommendations.

Cultural and natural determinants, both global and local, are imbedded in the design of every learning experience. Students are encouraged to learn as much and as fast as they can, rather than simply to fulfill what is perceived as the standard expectations and requirements of a problem or project.

Guiding principles for teaching enable every student to explore the core and boundaries of the profession through analytical problem – solving sequences for regional scale landscape planning and the synthetic evolutionary cycles of garden scale landscape design.

One cornerstone of the design studio is recognition and promotion of creativity as divergent thinking rather than as convergent thinking. In education, intelligent people are typically thought of as convergers, or those who most often arrive at the correct (conventional) answer to a problem or situation. However, creativity is achieved by individuals when they arrive at unique and possibly idiosyncratic solutions.

The most useful conceptual problem in design studio is one that asks for many ideas for a place or interpretations of a place’s spatial organization. The creative individual can conclude a spectrum of divergent responses to such a problem, at least some of which are rarely encountered in the responses of others.

When intelligent and creative individuals are given a complex environmental situation and asked to organize it into a functional and beautiful whole, those peoples’ ideas are most often clarifying, direct and in multiple schemes. In contrast, the intelligent and convergent thinker most often only maintains the situation’s complexity within one “answer.”

It is a predominantly repetitious physical endeavor to learn spatial simulation and surface modeling technologies associated with geographical information systems and three dimensional computer – aided design.



The major levels of Benjamin Bloom’s “Cognitive Taxonomy of Education Objectives,” are in order of increasing complexity:

1. KNOWLEDGE: Knowledge is defined as the remembering of previously learned material. This may involve the recall of a wide range of material, from specific facts to complete theories, but all that is required is the bringing to mind of the appropriate information. Knowledge represents the lowest level of learning outcomes in the cognitive domain.

2. COMPREHENSION: Comprehension is defined as the ability to grasp the meaning of landscape. This may be shown by translating material from one form to another (words to shape), by interpreting material (explaining or summarizing), and by estimating future trends (predicting consequences or effects). These learning outcomes go one step beyond the simple remembering of material, and represent the lowest level of understanding.

3. APPLICATION: Application refers to the ability to use learned material in new and concrete situations. This may include the application of such things as rules, methods, concepts, principles, laws, and theories. Learning outcomes in this area require a higher level of understanding than those under comprehension.

4. ANALYSIS: Analysis refers to the ability to break down material into its component parts so that its organizational structure may be understood. This may include the identification of the parts, analysis of the relationships between parts, and recognition of the organizational principles involved. Learning outcomes here represent a higher intellectual level than comprehension and application because they require an understanding of both the content and the structural form.

5. SYNTHESIS: Synthesis refers to the ability to put parts together to form a new whole. This may involve the production of a unique concept or theme, a plan of operations, or a set of abstract relations. Learning outcomes in this area stress creative behaviors, with major emphasis on the formation of new patterns or structures.

6. EVALUATION: Evaluation is concerned with the ability to judge the value of material for a given purpose. The judgements are to be based on definite criteria. These may be internal criteria (organization) or external criteria (relevance to the purpose) and the individual may determine the criteria or be given them. Learning outcomes in this area are highest in the cognitive hierarchy because they contain elements of all the other categories, plus conscious value judgements based on clearly defined criteria.


LEARNING is important and has a vital role in every worthwhile effort (DOING). 

The physical act of DOING is vital to embedding LEARNING.

LEARNING is one of two critical ingredients (along with ORGANIZING) in DOING. 

DOING is the only actual evidence of LEARNING. …to everyone but yourself, including your current professor. 

Only the learner knows how much has been learned. …until it is demonstrated to another person. 

The above applies both to a university EDUCATION, where a professor is required to evaluate works, exams, etc. for a letter grade, and to a professional CAREER, where someone seeks LEARNING and DOING and pays for the result.


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