Monday, April 11, 2016


One does not have to be the equivalent of Nostradamus to predict the outcome of the current CPD arrangements. Just today, 11 April 2016, for the very first time, I was shown professionally-produced, glossy, smart documents that have been printed by a group that appears to include the Australian Institute of Architects, apparently promoting REAL FLAME – gas-fired fireplaces. This critique has nothing to do with the product. It is about the CPD system.


A portion of the material looks like what used to be called a 'Technical Catalogue' that was once given out to architectural practices for their reference libraries. Now this document is labelled 'FORMAL CPD.' One booklet is subtitled 'PRESENTATION;' alarmingly the other twin to this pseudo-'technical catalogue' is subtitled 'EXAM.' This second publication is a printed document that is filled only with a series of 'CPD' questions, each numbered, one per page, complete with a place for ‘ANSWERS,’ all lined carefully in wide spacing in anticipation of the professional response. So CPD does formalise what used to be ordinary technical matters once offered to the offices by salesmen; and it IS AN EXAM! - see: The surprise is that architects once used to examine the salesmen on their products and their performances! Now the tables have turned. This second glossy document reminds one of a child's colouring-in book, such are its naive inviting voids; but it is less interesting than these children's pastime publications.


The ‘PRESENTATION’ publication of this twin-set reads as a PowerPoint introduction to the subject, all ready for the seminar – is it intended to just be read out to the slides? - after which it appears that the second ‘EXAM’ publication will be issued to the attendees of the 'CPD Occasion’ to complete. In order to get the points, 1.5 apparently for this commercial promotion, (who decides on points?), the ‘EXAM’ questions have not only to be all answered, but also checked and signed off by the presenter. One assumes that the points are yours if you get everything right. If not, what happens? Proportional points? Does one have to do 'the course' again? Is there detention involved? Lines to write out? Dare one suggest ‘the cuts’? - see:

THE BOOK OF QUESTIONS: QUESTION 1 - ironically, it is not a question!

This is simply a dumbing-down of the profession that should be outraged at this insulting CPD engagement. IT HAS TO CHANGE. These 'FORMAL CPD' publications make what is a grand and ancient profession simply look like a foolish group of kids, amateurs. As there is no recognition of experience, a mature architect is asked to sit an exam beside a recent graduate. CPD needs to do better than this. Both the Board of Architects and the AIA, (what a silly name that matches the American Institute of Architects 'AIA'! - and they were told!!), have to get together to make sure that there is true quality learning in this 'REFUEL' programme if it is to be relevant; that there is substance that seeks out much more than the alarmingly simplistic notion of 'New Knowledge' in commercial technical material. Cringe!! Gosh, does no one in the profession now read anything other than their own words, as Elle Macpherson once boasted? What texts are read by the profession for it to allow CPD to become so trite? Is it really so ignorant? Why allow itself to be treated like this?

The profession needs to protest most vehemently in order to reinstate true quality, meaning and depth into its understanding instead of playing what looks like silly Playschool games: expensive ones too apparently. The industry would be much better advised to produce quality technical publications that are truly informative instead of pandering to the BOAQ and the AIA. Have a look at some of the publications designed by European companies. Glossy space is not always best.

What we are seeing here in these documents is the industry manipulating the current CPD structure, turning it into a commercial opportunity that is cheeky enough to try to make itself more attractive with an extra half point. One could liken it to a media release by a company that journalists can just take and use as 'free and easy' news that cunningly promotes the company. With the 'FORMAL CPD' publications, we have a 'free and easy' seminar that can accrue points while it promotes a company and its products. Why should any company not try to use the rules in this way? It is not the company’s problem. It all has to do with the BOAQ CPD requirements. THERE MUST BE A CHANGE.

CPD - Compulsory Professional Development!

14 APRIL 2016
It might seem to be merely a quaintly silly reversal of positions, but having salesmen examine architects is significantly different to an architect’s examination of a salesman. One is quantitative; the other qualitative. The salesman’s exam is seeking to confirm how much of the presentation has been understood and remembered by the architect. The architect’s exam, if questioning a product and its performance can be called this, is seeking to determine the qualities of the product: its functions; its efficiencies; its effectiveness; its durability; and matters of this genre. It is a testing session where the rigours of doubt are juxtaposed against the hype of promotion.

One has to ask: which approach is more responsible ‘in upholding the standard of practice of architects’? It seems clear that the doubting, the testing of the sales blurb, positions the architect in the role expected of the profession, the agent for the client acting in the client’s very best interests. Insisting that architects learn by rote and accept without question all of the material the salesman might choose to offer by way of promotional persuasion, and to see this as important, CPD point-scoring ‘new knowledge,’ seems to be a very dangerous, simplistic, irresponsible strategy. Yet this is what the Board is supporting; and the AIA (Australian) too. CPD, if it is to be relevant, needs to do better than engage in this mindless, moronic quest and test for numbers. It is the ‘compulsory’ interpretation of ‘continuing’ as policed by the Board of Architects of Queensland, that turns the admirable intention of learning into a empty-headed game of avoidance with crafty compliance that does nothing for an architect’s reputation or practice.

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