Collaborative Education is a key part of improving the chances for creatives in our uncertain world, especially one dominated by freelancers and small micro companies who will need to develop new teams, and collaborate on projects using a diversity of funding and distribution opportunities. However, it is not a taught skill either in schools or the majority of HE media courses, other than as a byproduct of creating work.
The overall skills gap for the creative industries was identified this week by a report ‘Social Mobility and the Skills Gap’ from the Creative Industries Federation.
“Britain’s got talent. It is the basis of our hugely successful creative industries which are the fastest growing sector of the UK economy and are worth £87.4bn. Our creative economy now employs one in 11 of the working population1. But we also have a talent crisis. We are failing to provide enough young people with the right mix of skills for many of the exciting jobs in the creative economy..” Social Mobility and the Skills Gap – Creative Industries Federation Oct 2016.
The report rightly focused on a number of the key issues facing the UK post-the Brexit vote, and where the education system is enmeshed in a debate about the place of creative courses in schools’ education curriculum – STEM v. STEAM. However, nowhere does it engage with the need for collaborative working to be part of the curriculum, HE courses or the wider debate about inclusion within the creative industries.
What is Collaborative Education?
As far back as the early 2000’s UK researchers discovered the value of collaborative education practices in schools, which led in 2010 to Education Scotland establishing their own online co-operative and collaboration resources. At the heart of this site, which also includes collaborations on health and other matters, is a creativity portal. a joint project with Creative Scotland.
The aim of this work was to improve the group based working evident in primary schools, and to encourage its use all the way through the education landscape to life-long learning. Creativity was identified as the key link across the curriculum, and this is the point. Teaching creative collaboration as part of all subjects is the way to improve learning and provide the essential social skills needed to support and develop creatives at all levels of education. Collaborative education is not about a subject it is about the very nature of how we teach and learn, and it is essentially a creative process.
This blog is too short to go into details but you will find case studies at the Education Scotland portal. You can read about a particularly successful collaborative workshop process at MA level in the following blog.
Why is it so important to the Creative Subjects and the Industries as a whole?
The reasons for this are perhaps captured in this Steve Jobs interview where he talks about teams, trust, and the importance of supporting great ideas. How do you do this if you have never been taught in a collaborative atmosphere, other than by a very long process of failure? Collaborative education provides a learning experience where you work through the often difficult process of understanding other people’s visions, engaging in critical rational argument and dealing with egos.
Teaching people specific skills, or supporting them in their individual achievements, is one thing. However, for a creative project to work it involves more than one person, especially now in the digital age. If individual creatives are to prosper, and we are not to waste talent, then we need creatives who can work across all digital platforms in teams to exploit all the potential of an idea. This is how you build companies and support freelancers as they contribute to teams.
Collaboration is key to Success.
You can read about what two of our creative champions Jocelyn Stephenson – The Magic Bus, Fraggle Rock, Bob The Builder, and Leslie Stewart – Casualty, Monarch of the Glen, Moomins on the Riviera, think about the importance of collaboration. Or take note of the head of Pixar in this quote from his book on managing creativity
“If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up. If you give a mediocre idea to a brilliant team, they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something better.” Ed Catmull : Creativity Inc.
Another BCre8ive champion Nick Park – Wallace and Gromit, talks about his first collaboration in a career, which includes numerous OSCARs and BAFTAs HERE
These are all leading creatives covering a range of creatives mediums and formats. They all talk about the importance of collaboration to their successes. We need to listen, and develop new ways of teaching and learning which put creative collaboration at the heart of all our educative processes.
Collaboration is key to Inclusion
One of the major debates currently running in TV and Film is the lack of BAME talent, while the issue of women in the gaming world has been debated for several years. Creativity does not lie with one type of person, and we have an incredibly diverse population. This is to say nothing of the diverse audiences we now address with our global web-based distribution.
Diversity brings its problems, people have experienced different cultural expectations/customs. People often fear other people, not just because they are different but because they do not know how to share those experiences and differences in a creative way. Learning through collaboration where the focus is on the project not the person, where listening to others is part of the process , and where criticism is about what works not whose ideas it is allows diversity to flourish.
If we truly want diversity to not be a barrier to our teams and our creativity, then we need to embrace collaborative learning and working.
Using creative collaboration as a tool in education prepares students for the real life work environment where the ability to collaborate is critical to the creative industries success. It does not matter if this is in a STEM, STEAM or STREAM curriculum what is crucial is that we embed creative collaboration into all subjects. It is also probably the best and fastest way to encourage diversity, and thus inclusion.