The most watched TED talk of all time. By @jembauer ‏

 iBy Jemima Bauermeister


The most watched TED talk of all time.

Not everything is about me, but Ken Robinson’s talk on the creativity-killing practises of conventional education is. I recommend watching it if you haven’t already. Until I watched it I thought that I’d been missing out and I was extremely unlucky for not going to school.

I was told that I can’t do Art or Graphic Design for A Levels or my Degree due to never having done it before. I was home-schooled up until 6th form and I was told by teachers to study Biology because my grades proved I could do it. My reasons for dropping out of University was a combination of disinterest in working in a lab or a field and the inability to afford the living costs while studying full time.

“There’s no such thing as can’t” is a mantra that was instilled into me from a young age and if I ever didn’t get the results I wanted, I was encouraged to try harder, not to give up and try something else. So being told I couldn’t study a creative subject because I had no proof I could do it was a completely foreign concept. My siblings and I were never graded against a pass mark or told to aim for a letter of the alphabet, we were raised to try.

The moment I stepped foot into conventional education I was told to make life decisions based on the fear of what could go wrong rather than the passionate pursuit of what could go right.

And this absolutely baffled me.

Towards the end of my one year of University I applied for a job as a Manager for an event promotion company. Again, I seemed to not get the idea that the world works around experience and what you can prove you can do rather than what you believe you can and I’d never done anything like it before. So, as I didn’t have the credentials for the job, a friend and myself decided to hire out a competing venue on the same night. I did all of the graphic design, we built up Facebook pages and groups, got it sponsored by WKD, booked DJs and décor, marketed to all of the incoming university students and filled the nightclub. We were both subsequently offered jobs with the company we originally applied to work for.

When I applied to SCA, for the interview day presentation I had an idea for a video that I wanted to make. I’d never used Premiere Pro before so I wanted to learn but my laptop was so slow it wouldn’t render anything. So I got out a bank loan for £3500 which I was allowed to change my mind on within 7 days, then I bought a Mac Pro which I also had a week to return and I knuckled down. I returned the Mac on the morning of my interview day after creating a video that I was happy with.

Every time I’m faced with a “can’t”, I’m not able to focus on anything else until I beat it. The “you can’t study art/graphic design” is an itch I’ve been trying to scratch for years. Almost every job I’ve had, I’ve jumped at the chance to do any kind of design. Wristbands, t-shirts, posters, tickets, I’ve dropped everything else if it’s meant I could spend time making things look pretty. And although I love working in hospitality, I’ve always been looking for a route into the creative world.

But still even one of the most progressive industries seems to mostly employ newcomers through graduate programs. They’d rather take on someone with a 2:1 in Archaeology than someone like me who’s spent their entire teenage years trying to figure out what career is going to satisfy both my obsession with reading The Economist and my hobby of designing posters and logos for made up businesses in Photoshop. When looking to how I would get into the industry, I was faced with yet another “can’t”. Naturally, as someone who isn’t a graduate, I was turned down from every grad programme I applied for. I didn’t have the portfolio to become a creative and I didn’t have a degree for any of the other departments.

I came to SCA with a desperate hunger for the possibilities and a willingness to do anything it takes to get in. I’d discovered the advertising industry through Ted talks by Rory Sutherland and Paul Kemp-Robertson as well as through reading John Hegarty’s books and I knew it encompassed everything that I’ve always been passionate about.

Discovering the school was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me. I finally found somewhere that’s focussed on relishing the possibilities rather than hiding from all the supposedly terrifying consequences of failure.

So despite the fact that not going to school meant I had no artistic qualifications to go on and study what I was passionate about (until now!), it has left me with something far more valuable. The determination to try despite the looming possibilities of failure. I’ve made a lot of big mistakes since I dropped out of University (that being one of the biggest) but I don’t regret a single one of them. Every failure I’ve ever had felt pretty terrible at the time but I realise now that they taught me everything I know and without them I wouldn’t be starting at SCA next month.

So here’s to more failures and more can’ts, bring them on!


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