Great Expectations

NCARB’s annual meeting, held in Philadelphia this year, is close to wrapping up… and I, for one, am glad. This week has been chock full of announcements about changes to policies surrounding both IDP and the ARE that its been nearly impossible for me to keep up. (Note to NCARB — love the enthusiasm, but can’t we spread these out a little? Like, maybe one groundbreaking change a week? Thanks…)

To summarize, this past week saw huge announcements regarding palpable changes to the time involved in the IDP process as well as retesting for failed divisions of the ARE. The much-maligned “six-month rule” (you know, the one that says any experience older than six months is no longer valid) is being phased out, while the six-month waiting period for retesting after a failed division of the ARE will be dropping to a mere 60 days. Coincidence? Not sure. Both announcements reflect NCARB’s constant commitment to re-evaluating their programs and guidelines to meet the needs of emergent professionals. I’ll address my thoughts on both of these changes in future posts…

But wait — they’re not through yet! A proposal has also been announced that would significantly reduce the amount of time required in IDP by refocusing on the core hours of the various content areas. If successful, the proposal would eliminate elective hours and reduce the 5,600 hours of IDP by nearly a third. (The proposal is rooted in scientific data, such as the results of the most recent practice analysis. That said, I have some mixed feelings about this one that I will explore in a later post…)

All of these announcements have come in a haze of diaper changes, late-night feedings, and a general “what day is it again?” erratic schedule that comes with welcoming a newborn into the home, which my wife and I did just this past Saturday. It’s actually poetically appropriate, as I try to relearn how to be a caregiver to a new baby, that these policy changes turn the familiar on its ear. Bear with me as I play catch-up. For now, enjoy this shot of my son getting to know his new baby sister.

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Lunch Money (Father’s Day 2014)

My dad has always been a simple, blue-collar, salt-of-the-earth type of guy.  Architecture being a profession of equal parts technical and creative, I know for a fact that many of the things that I do on a daily basis are lost on him.  But the truth is, he has influenced my career more than he probably realizes. Most of my character — and the manner in which I practice — has come from my dad.

nickelsI remember when I was about to start junior high school.  In addition to the other huge cultural shifts in my consciousness that came with my post-elementary school world, this was this first time I’d actually have to carry lunch money with me.  School lunches at that time cost a whopping 95 cents (I realize that this dates me, but we’ve already established that I’m old).  Every morning when I left the house, there was a dollar bill waiting for me on the kitchen table.  My dad had long since left for work, but that dollar bill was always there, every morning without question, making his presence known.  Through that simple gesture, my dad taught me dependability and accountability — I only saw him for a few hours a day, but I knew that I could count on him.  It was years later before I realized how much effort probably went into that simple act — not only making sure that the money was available, but also having the actual cash on hand each day (as someone who has grown quite reliant on his debit card, that fact that I’m usually scraping for bus fare makes this painfully evident).  There was planning involved to make sure that he actually had a dollar in his wallet to give to me each day, a dollar that easily could have been spent on something else, just one of the hundreds of sacrifices he made for his children.  I learned that being dependable means doing what’s expected of you, without fail, without being asked, and often without a thank you.

Each day when I got home from school, with a shiny new nickel in the “fifth pocket” of my Levi’s, he’d let me keep the change. It may not sound like much… but gradually, over the course of the school year, I watched those nickels slowly grow into dollars.  He taught me the value of money, but also perseverance… that doing anything of worth, more often than not, takes time and patience.  That you sometimes have to start small, but even the smallest things can grow into significance if given the chance.

If all goes according to plan, we will be welcoming a daughter on Sunday, appropriately enough on Father’s Day.  She will join my son as the second part of the biggest — and most important — project that I’ve ever taken on, and I’m proud to have had the role model that I did.  My only hope is that my own children learn as much from me, in the simplest ways, as I have from my own father.

My dad also taught me how to be resourceful. The very next year, school lunches increased to $1.05. On the night before my first day of the eighth grade, he handed me a dollar bill and said, “so, remember all those nickels…?”