Media with a mission – how to inspire purpose and motivation

By | October 6, 2010

Blogging has been a bit intermittent mostly because I’m busy. I guess when you least have the time to write is when you’ve got more to say!

My passion at this moment is the formation of media teams in schools. By a fairly organic process I am moving a little bit away from technology and more in the direction of human beings and how they fit into creative process.  Schools work is an area I hadn’t expected to get wrapped up in, but now that I am it's wonderful. 

Supposing we stop showing children how to use technology but instead give them a reason to use it?

A huge amount of effort is put into giving people technical skills in, say, editing or using a camera, but less so in the processes of thinking and teamwork.   I had a conversation with someone about an ambitious youth filmmaking project. I asked if the films were any good – they said, “not really”.  What she may have meant was that the work didn’t “connect” with her.


The work we make can sometimes be poor, can sometimes be impressive but neither is of true value unless the work has a real audience and a purpose.  In fact without purpose the poor work is often the more valuable because at least we can learn from it!  Making work to impress without a solid sense of purpose, without a mission, is often just puffery.

It is with these thoughts in mind that I am looking at a model that can act as a foundation for media teams in schools. With the help of a number of schools and Creative Partnerships I am looking at how we can set these teams out on a journey of purpose – not simply a joy ride.  Media with a mission to connect with an audience and to make change happen.   For example, we’d like the children to take a lead role in improving communication with parents, we’d like the children report on the effectiveness of their teachers. Maybe we'd like them to change the world!

At schools in Leeds, Wakefield and Bradford we will be setting a briefs, discussing audiences and digging into unexplored parts of our brains to come up with ideas that will have a real impact.   We won’t be getting into the detail of the technology – how to use a camera or record a podcast – the children will investigate those things for themselves. Learning the technology will be part of their independent problem solving processes and who knows, they may come up with solutions that we couldn’t imagine!

So it’s the soft skills I’m interested in.  How to encourage the diversity of talents within a team?  How do we work together not competitively but collaboratively? How do we establish a shared passion and vision for the work?  How do we celebrate the success?

Of course technology will come into it, it always does, and I’m sure blogging, photography and writing will be a central tools. But the challenge will be to come up with a compelling sense of purpose that will inspire and drive these activities forward.

More to follow.

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