The line goes, “There are some things in life you just can’t teach”. Your reaction, whether one of sage nodding or vehement glaring, will succinctly reflect which side of the line your views reside.
Without fence-sitting, the American writer Marya Hornbacher brokers a middling perspective; “You can’t teach an ear, you can’t teach talent… but you can teach people who have those things not to just fly by the seat of their pants.”
City of Glasgow college ran a course in blogging this September.
Autumn 2016 so marks the moment blogging has become a subject of formal learning, something ‘study-able’, a ‘discipline’, a college qualification, a practice with more to it than pushing ‘Record’, breaking the Fourth Wall and “flying by the seat of your pants”. The sub-textual message: the path to potential YouTube stardom might just be helped by a modicum of ‘classical training’.
Akin to learning over an exam paper, the questions quickly leap:
Is Glasgow College jumping on a ‘fad’, riding a bandwagon craze in a Selfie Age where we all carry audio-visual means in our pocket?
Or is Glasgow recognising the above-water tip of the zeitgeist and stating itself a first-mover in what will become a more widespread field of learning?
Perhaps more fundamentally, is a class teaching blogging and “how to become a YouTuber” broken logic – because how can you teach online eccentricity and how have a ‘big personality’ that can cross the divide and become captured content? Where George Bernard proposed the paradox that “youth is wasted on the young”, is Glasgow’s latest course a paradox in reverse, the ‘Oldies’ just not getting what it’s all about, trying to teach aspiring YouTuber’s a set of old tricks that just don’t apply?
And… ‘discuss’. Leaving me about 500 words to do so.
I’ll start with a bigger picture point. We should applaud any course that develops understanding and skills in how to interact with the Internet and create for it.
Whether we attend a class in it or not, all of us (of all ages), should take the occasional pause and consider how we represent ourselves digitally, and how others may perceive us online. We ‘upload-share-comment-like’ with daily enthusiasm: every online act saying something about us and adding to the self-portrait. Institutions offering courses that help young people consider how they fairly and healthily present themselves (digitally) is judicious and astute.
Where growing-up naturally involves taking a few missteps, Social Media can become a mean-spirited companion. Ferris Bueller’s day would have turned out seriously different if at any point he’d checked in or posted to his Timeline.
The second positive point, I believe, relates to ‘craft skills’. Talking to camera, behaving naturally in front of a lens, communicating clearly to an audience – these are terrific skills to have, not ones that come naturally to all of us, and are of huge benefit in a whole host of present careers, as well as future ones that have yet to define themselves. You talk to any headmaster today, and they’ll comfortably discuss their school’s role in terms of preparing for the unknown, in terms of equipping children for walking future career paths that don’t currently exist.
So Glasgow College’s latest curriculum addition is a new data point in a trend line that shows a form of creative expression, and an Influencer Marketing industry, in evolution. You can teach film-making, story-telling and screen writing. You can teach acting and TV presenting and broadcast journalism. You can teach video editing and documentary-making.