This essay is a modified version of one that I wrote in 2007. In it, I take the teaching of Design (in an Architecture Design Studio) as a lever to open up a comparison between the issues of ideology, aesthetics, community engagement and critical pedagogy, within the dual contexts of capitalism and socialism. I also use this lever to make further connections between Design Education in particular and Professional Education in a more general sense, showing how the issues raised in the comparison are relevant to all forms of teaching/learning. While there is a great deal of theoretical writing about what a socialist pedagogy might look like, and how it might differ from the capitalist variety with which we in the west are familiar, there are few concrete examples available of a direct comparison.
I begin with a story of two experiences from a visit I made twenty years ago to Nicaragua and Cuba. In that same year I visited several Schools of Architecture in North and Central America. Two of these visits were of particular interest - one to the School of Architecture and Urban Design at the National University of Engineering in Managua, the other to its counterpart at the Jose Antonio Varna Polytechnic Institute on the periphery of Havana, in Cuba – the latter coinciding with the visit of a group of US Architecture students from New York. In the process of unpacking these experiences I hope to tease out ideological aspects which influence human agency and subjectivity and which impact upon the process and form of social change.