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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 16-Dec-11


Friday 16-December-11

Media, decency and success

Media Studies in UK high schools is an interesting and odd subject. It has a poor reputation as an academic subject and many think it is an easy option. But, perhaps as a reaction to that view, awarding bodies have made the syllabus academically very strong. It has elements of critical studies. It includes highly detailed analysis of media, a very relevant study today, and requires good skills in a range of technology.

Yet the perception continues. I've seen Michael Gove, the current government minister for education speak in derisory terms about it. And less able (and, if truth be told, less motivated) sixth form students (16-18 year olds) often end up taking the subject, even being encouraged to do so by the school which knows they won't succeed in more traditional subjects.

As a result, Media classes end up with a wide range of abilities and attitudes as the (relatively few) serious students are diluted by the lazy and the incapable. My wife is a teacher of both English and Media Studies. She's highly successful and I'm very proud of her. Great results and kids that all want to be in her class. And here's an interesting story she told me.

As well as more traditional essays, Media Studies includes project work, where students have to create movies and other productions. In doing so, they may work together in teams. Teams are often made up of friends and friends are often based on ability and attitude. So take two teams. One is run by Becky who is bright, friendly and motivated. She asks her friends (including those not doing Media
Studies) to join in and help out, which they do, willingly. The other is run by Nora, who also asks her friends to help out. But Nora's friends drop out, can't be bothered and generally let her down. So who's project gets the better mark? Becky's of course.

And this is true of much of life. If you are decent and hard-working, you will end up with friends who think likewise. And such friends help each other succeed. And one success leads to another and so to a successful life. And the general attitude that it is good to help others is proven to be true.

The spiral for those who are lazy and deceitful (or associate with those who are) goes the other way. When untrustworthy people gather together, they cannot trust one another. Betrayals, fights and feuds break out. Success of any size is so difficult, many give up. They learn that they cannot help and that when people do you might as well take advantage of them.

I was at a conference last week where a speaker from the respected and employee-owned chain John Lewis was talking about their people-oriented culture. He noted that a common saying there is 'Hire for attitude, fire for attitude'. We used to say something similar at HP: 'Hire for attitude, train for skill'. The best thing you can do for your business is to hire decent, hard-working people. And because birds of a feather flock together, decent, hard-working people will be looking for companies that employ the same. And so create a spiral of success.

The bottom line is simple: Be decent and honest, respecting and caring for others. Be prepared to work hard at whatever you do, taking pride in your work. And you will find others with the same attitude and together you will find success.


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