Wednesday, February 20, 2008

You can't push cream.

It rises to the top.

I was reminded of this as I processed a series of disconnected segments of BBC Breakfast news this morning.

And I also harked back to when I was an agency head in Singapore and the government there decided something needed to be done to 'create' more 'creativity' in a country noted for lots of right brain graft and diliegnt application, but perhaps not so much left brain inspiration.

So they convened a bunch of types like me from perceived 'creative' professions to outline their vision. This seemed to revolve around establishing a centre of creative excellence in Jurong, which is in the industrial heartland of the city state, filling it full of nifty stuff and state glee clubbers, and...voila!

Most round the table smiled and said 'great!'. Why not? It wasn't going to cost us anything. Then a hand popped up. Mine. I simply offered the view that, in my experience, around the world most original, innovative creativity mostly evolved from a less structured environment. Not a hothouse, especially one on a flatted factory in an estate. SoHo, Covent Garden. Left Bank.

I was not invited back.

Now I see that £800M has been 'invested', to little effect, to keep kids in University as 25% are dropping out. Seems the new education systems may be getting a lot more eligible to enter, but not so much to cope. The aim seems more to support the aims of targets than any actual educational benefits, to state or student. A bunch of kids into a system they may not be suited for and out without much they can apply. Worryingly, the new plan is erring more in throwing more money to adjust things some more so they still go in no matter what, to maximsie the 'benefits' their tuition fee debts confer.

I counterpoint this with a story about a South London state school that is cranking out some of greater new art talents. The difference? The principal is quoted as being interested in only developing their skills to fulfill the pontetial they wish to pursue. Not, X-factor-like, to shape a predetermined plan of what a minority think should be.

And it seems to work. With the public. QED.

What's this got to do with the environment? Well, apply it all, just to this industry. The waste. The misguided faith in meddling. The money blown on a system vs. letting what works evolve with support, but a more benign, results rather process-oriented aim.

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