Playing Catch Up

Allow me to set the stage.

There’s a beautiful backdrop. The trees, painted on the flats because it’s a junior high play, are vibrant with various shades and hues of green. The shade they give off looks inviting, like you want to take your dog Skip and have a picnic in it. The birds, oh the birds, they aren’t that stupid ‘M’ you see so often. No, these birds were clearly drawn with care. You know these birds. Finally, there’s the grass. You know it’s painted on a large wood plank, but you want to run in that grass. Frolic, if you may.

Everything about the backdrop is so warming, welcoming, and above all, comfortable. You have a history with it. You know it. You know how it feels. You know how it smells. You’re comfortable with it, and you’d rather not change it.

Now, the scene. What’s going on in front of that comforting backdrop?

You’re confused. This makes no sense. In front of this beautiful, comfortable background that you know so well, is this scene straight out of iRobot. You know, when the robots are being made or whatever. In the factory thing. Yeah, that one (no, no I haven’t seen the entire movie. Is it that obvious?).

The scene is visually stunning, but it’s completely opposite the background. Honestly, robots are cool and all, but a robot factory just doesn’t fit into that background, picnics with Skip, frolicking in the grass and whatnot.

On the surface, everything looks good. Take in just the background or just the action in the current scene separately and they look fine.

But together, they’re a mess.

Welcome to education systems in the 21st century.

I have an integrated brand promotions textbook, published in 2009, that refers to advertising online as “cyberspace.” As a friend of mine who also works in digital media likes to say, “the book makes it sound as if we work in the porn world.”

Oh, not to mention that there’s about two paragraphs on the subject. Two. And one of them tells me that copywriting for the web is most similar to copywriting for print. It mentions banner ads and pop-ups as good forms of advertising online. It fails to mention anything about bounce rate, clickthroughs, conversions, and other terms that internet marketers take for granted.

Oh, and although we haven’t read through the whole book, I haven’t read a damn thing about mobile. You know, that one industry that is FREAKING BOOMING right now.

Therein lies the problem. We don’t have a background (education system) that keeps up with the live-action (how long until IBP through geolocation, a la AJ Bombers, is in my textbook?).

But it’s a larger issue than textbooks. It’s a larger issue than class projects. It’s larger than professors who simply don’t understand these media, through apathy or otherwise.

It’s the structure of our education system at large. It is a slow, bureaucratic, red tape beast that isn’t necessarily resistant to change, but is just sooooo daaaammmmnnnn sloooowwww. It’s like the fat kid in gym class that, yeah, would eventually finish the mile run, but the rest of the class was in the showers five minutes ago. The education system is playing catch-up all the time.

It’s great to talk about changing education. But it cannot start in the classroom. As much as it pains me to say this, it must start in the background. It must start in the board meetings, in the office of the Dean, or Superintendent.

The foreground can look really friggin’ awesome, but unless the background changes with it, we can’t get the whole picture. The whole idea. The whole education.

Photo Credit: Marcus Jeffrey

Colby Gergen I despise writing about myself in the first person. That reaches off the keyboard to when I'm speaking, as a senior studying awesomeness at Mizzou, about myself. I just don't like talking about myself, whether I'm talking about my adoration of adventures or my belief in the Gospel of the Fresh Prince. Doesn't it seem like talking about yourself in the first person is just patting yourself on the back for kicking ass at life every single day? Yeah, I would never do a thing like that. Twitter: @colbywg

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4 Responses to “Playing Catch Up”

  1. Susan Milligan

    Thanks Edward for the Tweet. Colby, the change in Education can't begin in the board meetings or the office of the Dean or the Superintendent. This mess education is in has already been through those offices and perhaps they are to blame for letting the mess happen on such a huge scale. There has to be a entire change in education yet still keep some of that original grassy tree lined backdrop. Our hallowed halls have become one dimensional and flat with the little cubicles off to each side. Education isn't just a professor and being connected to a screen. Education is immersion into the green grass backdrop with talented others who can show us the way and create excitement far away from the traditional classroom..
    Albert Einstein said these two things about learning: “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
    “Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.”

  2. Jeff Shattuck

    School — K12 thru college — is fighting a constant battle: teach specialist skills or generalist skills. For me, I'd go with generalist, because in my experience is that most jobs can be learned in about six months or faster be someone who knows how to learn. And knowing how to learn is the result of a generalist education. I understand wanting to learn skills for specific jobs in schools, but it's a fool's game. The world moves too fast now. Use school to learn how to write, think critically, debate, do a little math, discuss history/government/economics. But copywriting? Don't bother. Get an education first!

  3. Kaitlin Maud

    Some great points Colby. As someone who works in social media in the “real world,” I hate to tell you this, but the struggles you are dealing with may only get worse. Yeah, it was rough in college having graphic design teachers who didn't know what Facebook was, but it's been far more difficult to work with and for people who not only don't know about the changing media landscape, but also don't understand or care about why it's important. I'd love to see a blog post on TNGG in the future about coping with the digital divide!


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