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Shine @ Ch 4

May 18, 2008

shineLogoBlue.pngIt’s taken me a few days to get my thoughts together about Channel 4’s “Shine The Light On!” event. With the luxury of even a little distance, I’m able to focus on the points that really caused me to think.

The day consisted of a panel discussion and Q&A session, followed by an ‘open conference’ where people could make opening statements and then break off to discuss them in groups. This second part was a new thing for me and I was surprised how effective it was… though I think I’d struggle to employ the format in the classroom.

The panel members were:

Charlotte Black — Talent manager for Ch 4

Rob da Bank — Radio 1 DJ

Guin Batten — Olympic Silver Medallist / UK Youth Sports Trust

Hannah Brown — Headhunter

Darius Norell — Publisher and Entrepeneur

Katie Atkinson — Talented Youngster who’s going to be working for H&M.

After a warm welcome from Janey Walker, Channel 4’s Head of Education, Lucy Parker as Chair of the Talent & Enterprise Task Force (DCSF) gave the introductory address. She started by pointing out that as far as Britain is concerned, “…talent is all we’ve got left…” in terms of the world economy. This rather sobering thought (accompanied by a brutally simplistic illustration) set the scene for the subsequent speakers.

Charlotte Black pointed out how, in her job as a Talent Manager for Ch4, she is always on the look out for people who can say things in a “fresh way”. This struck a real chord with me because I deal with pupils every day who are convinced that there is only one ‘right’ way of doing everything.

The two panellists that made the biggest impression on me were Guin Batten and Darius Norell.

Guin Batten is an excellent and entertaining speaker who highlighted how she wanted to “…go to the Olympics from the age of 12 … but didn’t know how to get there.” What struck me about her words was the acknowledgement that, all too often, we have no idea what the pupils want to do… what drives them. All too often, they don’t know what drives them…

Darius.jpgThe speaker that most impresses me was Darius Norell. His magazine RealWorld bridges the gap between graduation and finding a job. He opened by asking what it means to be talented, and what one is going to do with that talent? More importantly, he also made the point quite forcibly that there is very little correlation between grades and talent. The anecdote he used to illustrate this is worthy of a post on its own… stay tuned! I think it’s fair to say that he finds that many graduates undervalue themselves, and from my own experience, this problem is magnified in the school setting. We all meet the pupils who “can’t do it” — maybe we need to start finding ways to allow them to develop the confidence in their own abilities and talents to excel… Mmm… A curriculum that encourages excellence… where have I heard that before?

The one theme that came through loudly and clearly from all the speakers was that talent and creativity are closely related. Stifle one and you lose the other… which rather begs the question “How can we encourage talent and creativity in schools?” If only there was some sort of Festival that highlighted pupils’ diverse talents…

I’ll be devoting my next couple of posts to the open conference session and the anecdote Darius told… but first I have to sort out my department timetable for next year. Stay tuned!

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