I agree with many of the points that Mathijs van Kouwen raises in his letter, Get rid of those crazy deadlines, though there are some issues regarding his proposal. I would suggest that wherever possible, a standard midnight deadline is set. That’s then it. People can go to bed and get a healthy seven or eight hours of sleep. With a midday deadline, it is too tempting for people to be up all night, as Van Kouwen himself says, or to end up in a disruptive rhythm for other reasons.
But there is a more fundamental issue underlying the problems around deadlines and that is not so much the times, but the number and the gravity of the deadlines. It seems as though there is greater emphasis being placed on production and this is leading to a continuous maelstrom of unnecessary pressure, represented by the never-ending number of deadlines set.
Deadlines as a tool, not a goal
The danger of this perspective is that students learn to know what is expected of them, but have little space for creative innovation and reflection. The division between studying or working and life outside becomes obscured. Shockingly, the architecture profession puts this on a pedestal. Architecture firms state not having a ‘nine to five mentality’ as a requirement on their internship vacancies. They want to produce as much as they can, at the cost of quality.
Just cut it out! There is nothing wrong with hard work, but this culture will ultimately create a miserable human being that will produce miserable work.
The creative process needs space to breathe and sometimes be given a free rein whereby deadlines should be a tool and not a goal. My conclusion is that TU Delft should set clear deadlines at midnight, or at 20:00 if there is no other choice, so that people know where they stand. Students should also be given the freedom for reflection and training without continually using a grading system.
Nathan Kramer is a master’s student of Management in the Built Environment at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment.