When I was a child, I wanted to grow up and save the world. I got a bit older and I started liking the idea of writing and communicating my thoughts and desires – I was impressed by Fidel Castro and Che Guevera; I was sold on their charisma and cult following. I understood that words can have real power if you could get the aura surrounding the delivery down to a pat. What a shame I was born a girl, I would’ve loved to be a public speaker if I were a man.
Around the same time I got really sick of the ads I was seeing on TV and the announcers I heard on the radio. They were as lame as the ads I saw in print media. What? They think we’re stupid or something? I couldn’t draw but I had a need to express myself visually and so I took a photography course. I didn’t end up a globe-trotting photojournalist. I thought perhaps I could save the world by first saving ourselves from advertising that dumbs us down. Perhaps smart advertising could galvanise people to save the world and end the problem of distribution which is the cause, I belief, of scarcity, once and for all.
My secondary schooling got in the way of a lot of things I had wanted to do to help make the world a better place. In the end I only had a few years between completing secondary school and becoming a parent. Perhaps it’s not just mass media that made me feel dumbed down, schooling had that effect on me too. You could go to an advertising college and hope you get to become an award-winning CD by the time you’re 30 and affect some change in the direction of the industry but there’s nothing you can do about education. Going to a teaching college would only add on to the dumbing down process. So advertising college it was.
Along the way, I blamed media research for feeding the wrong info to advertising – effectively nullifying all creative drive that derived impact on design and delivery from information Media Research provided. I had believed all the misguided perceptions and arrested creativity that plagued ad agencies were due to the “data” they were forced to design campaigns around.
In the end I just bloody gave up my life’s dream of communicative effectiveness that drew on people’s cognitive processes aided by audio/ visual design and connecting them to a cause by understanding their needs and giving them a place, a message to come together, to come around and make a difference.
Who would’ve thought, fast-forward 10-20 years that being a teacher in the 21st Century would require me to draw from my experience/innate ability of being aware of the power of words (and editing myself for clarity), the power of interacting through a presentation (copy, visual, audio, design/presence) and being enthusiastic about the concept of synergy, synthesis and collaboration?
I remembered this cartoon,JEM, and my favourite word from that was “synergy”. I must’ve been around 9-10. I don’t even remember why that word stuck so strongly nor really knew what it meant (English not being my first language and I don’t think we could afford a dictionary back then!). Speaking of cartoons, I also felt a very deep spiritual connection (if you can describe it as that) not only with JEM but with Galaxy Rangers (no guts no glory, no pain no gain…..) , M.A.S.K (is the mighty power that can save the day). Did all those cartoons teach me about synergy, synthesis and the spirit of collaboration? Did they teach me the value of teamwork (don’t forget Transformers) and the virtue of failure? Did all those National Geographic, Beyond 2000 and BBC shows teach me deep-thinking about issues? Did watching North & South and various other period dramas primed me for the need to understand that things happening today is a result of the struggles in the past? – I was a kid with an over-active imagination and a psychedelic mind and school got in the way of the best use of my youth! School = misspent youth.
Ever since I started teaching, I’ve always felt this deep regret that all those things I had looked foward to as a child would be rendered redundant – all that interest in reflecting and writing, advertising, marketing, cognitive psychology, visual aesthetics, collaborations, technology, futurist philosophy, – all that fun being a Kirby salesperson. I grew up in a world where being intelligent, articulate and being good in English was a huge social and professional liability, not necessarily always happening in tandem.
Who would’ve guessed that I would get a chance in this lifetime to witness the transition of an Educator from Traditional Authoritative, anti-innovation Classroom Teacher to Interaction Designer, communication expert, innovative collaborator and futurist philosophers? How could anyone miss out on such a fun time in human evolution! How could any Gen-X-er sit this one out! What’s happening in our world today is a culminatino of all that creative freedom we aspired. We wanted to grow up and not work so damn hard and our day has come! Hail Web 2.0!
It’s just as well that advertising and mass media bombed around this time. I’m sure there are a lot of out-of-job journalists and creative directors who would make great educators! Join me! We are now adults who can create the world we fantasised about as children.