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Katherine Shonfield

A few years ago some wag worked out that if all the stipulated subjects in the National Curriculum were adhered to, the Spanish Armada would get all of 13 seconds' coverage on a mid-week February afternoon.

Educational prescriptions are invariably accompanied by a grand indifference as to practical reality. There are calls for architecture courses to address sustainability, up-to the-minute IT provision, more, better or different 'technology', and from ARBmember John Wright we learn the shockhorror revelation that 'risk management and value engineering are simply not understood by some schools'.

No doubt some establishments will assert their students are riskaware, software-literate, valuehoned Corbs of a mythical green future. But as a teacher I know that the emperor is not in fact wearing any of these highly specialised clothes.

Fact: you can't get a salaried position without academic research. This means published writings. This criterion excludes anyone who is up to speed on issues of risk management, sustainability, technology, IT and value engineering. If they are up to speed they will be at the cutting edge of practice, not writing about it.

So, instead of practice carping on the sidelines, practice needs to take an active role in areas where education is inevitably increasingly wanting. Practice itself needs to provide the wherewithal for students to learn in these areas. It might mean a new concept of apprenticeship; a day release for students to go two days a week into practice; nine months in university, six months in practice. Whatever it is, we need a radical far-reaching debate telling the truth rather than posturing. Paul Hyett, as the first RIBA president in living memory to intimately understand both education and practice, is in the ideal position to initiate it.

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