Architecture and urbanism teaching issues: being a professor: vocation or profession?


One of the reasons for teaching practice in the university would be to encourage thinking, find solutions to new problems and unveil alternatives in the face of theoretical and practical confrontations. But what would be the initial goal, the motivation of being a professor and teaching at the university? And what is the reason for giving a good and thought-provoking lesson?

According to Nóvoa (2009, p. 12),

“To be a teacher is to understand the senses of the education institution, to integrate into a profession, to learn from the more experienced colleagues. It is in school and in dialogue with the other teachers that one learns the profession. The recording of practices, reflection on work and the exercise of evaluation are central elements for improvement and innovation. It is these routines that improve the profession.”

Based on this perspective, it is worth emphasizing some current thoughts of the teaching staff, some of which demonstrate only concern with content mastery and good communication. The demands of the academy today are very focused on degrees and publications, but perhaps it would be important to reflect a bit more on the seemingly secondary issue in the myriad problems facing the university: the issue of teaching practice in higher education and the vocation of the university professor.

By the middle of the 20th century, it was assumed that the teacher at the university did not have to worry about pedagogies. Good command of the contents of the profession and the ability to express this knowledge was enough. However, researchers such as Vásquez (1982), Nóvoa (1995; 2009), Tardif (2002), Pimenta and Anastasiou (2008) have led to deeper thinking about teaching and the fact that it takes on different complexities. They are not only trained professionals to act in the market but human beings, endowed with aspirations, expectations and often frustrations. The teacher is then transfigured into that member who not only teaches but inspires the student to create his own identity and surpass himself as a professional. And on this, Nóvoa (1995, p.25) writes that "Formation is not built by accumulation [...], but rather by a work of critical reflexivity about practices and (permanent) personal identity. That is why it is so important to invest the person and give a status to the knowledge of the experience. "

In relation to this proposition, what makes a class so special? A good content domain? Good communication, often with animation? A good explanation of the teacher? Being a good teacher today is linked to the process of knowledge construction.


In other words, in a paradigm shift, in a new conception of what it is to teach and learn. Knowledge is not an accumulation of information, knowledge is not concentrated only in books, research reports or the head of a few enlightened ones. Knowledge is an exchange, it is an exchange between different knowledge and experiences, and the teacher is a driver of this process and of these discoveries.

Based on previous professional experiences, and at a time when the teaching of architecture in Brazil begins to feel the effects of the economic, moral and ethical crisis that afflicts the country, it becomes pertinent in the university forms of reinvention of the traditional teaching methodology. The younger generations, created in the age of communication and immediacy, are eager to explore the new paths of an architectural narrative. Students who were previously passive in the classroom are those who now demonstrate a need to interact and create their own interpretation of architecture. This perspective comes amidst the debate around teaching: What will be the identity of this new architecture professor? How should a good teacher be? Is there a didactic script that can guarantee the university professor to reach such objectives?

This reflection was born of questions about the teaching practice in the courses of Architecture and Urbanism in the present time. Being critical of one's own performance, and what one can do in relation to academic activities, demand a detachment and constant inquiries, be it about the problematizations created in the room, the sources and the way of using them, as well as the interactions with the students. The situations are different, always requiring changes of course on the part of the teacher, but never without losing the principles that guide it. The question is how many are willing to this opening and delivery of themselves to being a teacher, not only as a role, not only as trainers of new professionals but as inspiring beings of young architects.

"To be a teacher is to be patient and have the gift of giving without expecting anything in return, only the gratifying feeling of knowing that your student has learned ..." (anonymous testimonial in LUCIANO, Hélio José et al.).

This post is part of an academic paper developed for the Discipline Questions of Teaching Architecture and Urbanism - Post-Graduation Program, Presbyterian Mackenzie University - taught by Prof. Dr. Ana Gabriela Godinho Lima ( For more information about the course:


  • FISCHER, Beatriz Terezinha Daudt. Docência no ensino superior: questões e alternativas.

  • Educação, v. 32, n. 3, 2009; LUCIANO, Hélio José–UEL et al. VOCAÇÃO OU PROFISSÃO? REPRESENTAÇÕES DO SER E FAZER DOCENTE; NÓVOA, Antônio (Coord.). Os professores e a sua formação. 2 ed. Lisboa: Dom Quixote, 1995; ______. Professores imagens do futuro presente. Lisboa: EDUCA Instituto de Educação Universidade de Lisboa, 2009; PIMENTA, Selma Garrido. ANASTASIOU, Léa das Graças Camargos. Docência no ensino superior. 3. ed. São Paulo: Cortez, 2008; TARDIF, Maurice. Saberes docentes e formação profissional. Petrópolis, RJ: Vozes, 2002; VÁSQUES, Adolfo S. Ética. Rio de Janeiro: Civilização, 1982.

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