old news - perhaps

See below a post in response to Peter Nencini's "I, Me, Mine: do we specialise too soon" article on Its Nice That.

"I may be approaching this at a tangent but I had a similar experience to Peter, the 'road to Damascus' moment of clarity when first working in a fast paced and commercial environment. This kind of experience has become a determining factor in the curricular world of Higher education. There is major/confused emphasis on the need to meet the requirement of industry and it is predominant in the Creative Arts [possibly because of inherent course and resource costs/four year as opposed to three year programmes]. Referring to Industry [and its 'needs'] in a bid to better understand the requisite 'skills' in our graduating student body has benefits and disadvantages. It is the driver for a number of initiatives/individual student projects and a new fervour for educational programmes in well established companies [including the new Wieden and Kennedy 'school' for a new breed of advertisers], it is also the reason that so many bespoke courses have emerged in our Universtites over recent years AND more importantly it is having a net effect on the priorities set on the student experience overall. greater emphasis on the acquisition of skill sets [transferable and otherwise] have required greater specificity, greater accountability, more 'box ticking' exercises, an audit culture that is both ambiguous and unneccessarily specific.
Tail wags dog.

I am offering up this mono-context/soft rant about Education in order to give an opinion about our approach to specialism. My view is that students will be required to specialise earlier and earlier [it is happening this year with the abolition of route B, the old ADAR route tailored specifically for Art and Design students] because of the overall pattern of 'third way' Education. Specialism or naming of a discipline is often done for the sake of convenience/marketing/recruitment and the nuts and bolts of delivery and curriculum content are driven and defined by those people responsible for writing the projects. An holistic approach to Education is not particularly fashionable, because it is ambiguous, underpinned by beliefs and principles, difficult to describe and difficult to explain and deliver. However education is what we should all aim for, in its truest form, the cultivation of experiences/situations/spaces that enable individuals to develop within and without of a particular context, that process of 'drawing out' [ I reluctantly use the epithet; education is 'lighting a fire' not 'filling a bucket']. The radical in me says that we should be driving this in conjunction with Industry not passively asking them what they want, the latter may be the most practical, short term solution to whatever those uninterested Whitehall statistic mongers want but it will not serve either individuals or Industry well, it is a reductio ad absurdum, a hiding to nothing but mediocrity, bland and formulaic passive non creativity.
In short we need names, its a question of semantics but we need our education to be broad - wide and deep [yes T shaped], we need it to be at times complicated and problematic, at times simple and skills orientated but at all times part of an education not simply a 'training'. We have big brains and opposable thumbs, lets use them wisely!"

In some ways this opens up the discussion around 'discipline' - whether discipline is an appropriate aspiration for a 'thing' like Illustration. The quest to ringfence territory for a subject [particularly in the academic sphere] could be considered counter to the spirit of Illustration. What I mean is that the basis for Illustration [arguable!] is content, ideas, opinions and thoughts from absolutely anywhere. Is it possible to create a framework that is sufficiently all encompassing to discuss the product of Illustration when it's nascence is impossible to locate - nowhere and everywhere?