The Eyes Have It. Harvard professor in the History of Landscape John Stilgoe takes a novel approach to education by encouraging his students to simply look around and discover the constructed world around them. He teaches the art of exploration, and discovering the built environment – everything from architectural history to advertising and design. Stilgoe introduces his students to a method of discovering a hidden world that’s always been right in plain view.
“It takes me a very long time, and I’ve started out in perfect confidence to drive to California and I’ve wound up in Tennessee because things were interesting along the way,” says Stilgoe, laughing. “And if you just kind of wander along like that, following your nose, I mean, you find all kinds of neat things.” Even if all of this stuff is a world that nobody sees or nobody thinks about.
“I think people see it. But most people, when they learn to read, stop looking around,” says Stilgoe. “I try very hard in this university, which selects students based almost entirely on how well they do with words and numbers, to teach them that there’s another way of knowing.” This “other way of knowing” is simply using your eyes. The power of acute observation is one of nature’s most useful tools for learning.