Saturday, 10 March 2012

The Robinson Formulation

I want to carry on where I left my last post; how degrees in certain creative disciplines are not as well regarded as the degrees in established subjects i.e. history, the classics and science. Ken Robinson states that the ‘current education system systematically drains creativity out of our children’ (Robinson, 2009, p.16) and it is entirely reasonable that this trend continues through to further education and into the workplace.

This blog was created to give me a vehicle in which to discuss my opinions on creativity for a university assignment and in doing so I have discovered a paradox. I cannot be told to write about creativity because that instruction automatically restricts my own creativity. Being told what to do has inhibited me from having the freedom to write creatively. Therefore, is this blog a moot point? There has been many class discussions on how the very set up of our course is restricting our creativity and whether there are any ways in which this can be counteracted. The blog was one of those solutions but I now wonder whether the assignment brief was incorrect from the very beginning? Rather than asking us to ‘Create a BlogSpot (or Wordpress account) and post your own view(s) about creativity in arts and/or business’, perhaps it should have simply said ‘write a creative blog’. So it is entirely plausible that my managing and understanding creativity module is draining me of creativity at the same time as teaching me about it…

Sunday, 26 February 2012

What's the point of university?

I consider myself a leftie. Not quite a Blairite nor a Cameronite. Just someone who is distinctly sitting on the left side of the fence when it comes to British politics. In fact my leftism would probably positively correlate with my age if I were to draw it on graph, but I don't have time for that.

What I do have time for however, is to read the Daily Wail (more commonly known as the Daily Mail) and before you Guardianistas jump on your high horses, grab your pitchforks and start shouting 'witch, witch'! I don't read it for the (lack of) facts, nor the barely concealed racism. I read it because I believe you should know your enemy. And this enemy of mine published an article yesterday which stuck in my throat. It made my bile rise. It gave me a peculiar sensation which is now causing me to 'vent my spleen'. Here is the article;

and it speaks about Professor Les Ebdon (see below)

who has become the head of the Office for Fair Access, a body which gets disadvantaged students into higher education.

So far so good. Wrong! The article then goes on to tear this man's reputation to shreds. From remarking about his dress sense 'with his penchant for shapeless suits and loud ties (betraying a dress sense that's stuck firmly in the world of 1970s acadamia)' to disparaging the fact that the university he presides over (Bedfordshire) came 102 out of 119 in the Good University Guide. I'm sorry but if you are going to rank universities then someone is going to come last.

No, what really annoyed me was their comments on the courses which can be taken at his university - Carnival Arts, Spa Management and Sports Therapy. I believe the common vernacular these days is 'Mickey Mouse' courses.

Well, I am a graduate of one of these 'Mickey Mouse' courses. I did a FDA in Contemporary Acting and a Ba Hons in Contemporary Directing. I am also what you would call a 'disadvantaged student', coming from a poor background. If it weren't for universities like Bedfordshire or Newcastle College (where I studied) then I wouldn't be where I am today, doing an MA at Newcastle University. Therefore my question is;

Does it matter what you study as long as it is applicable and will encourage you to get a job in the future?

Personally I think no. For so many years it has been drilled into us that the point of university is to get a good qualification. But what does it matter as long as we are learning the skills that will help us in our careers. Perhaps what our country needs is somebody like Sir Les Ebdon who will encourage young people to study what they are passionate about, be it Spa Management or Chemistry, instead of constantly being told that because they are disadvantaged they have no hope of making something of their lives.