Geoff Mulgan: A short intro to the Studio School

When I studied at school I used to know about all the mathematical formulae, biological functions, chemical reactions, and physical processes. But now I do not. We were required to learn all about them only for one purpose: to pass an exam. I did not see any relationship between what I learned and my future job. Now I am covetous on some British children who are studying at Studio Schools. Do you know why?

Geoff Mulgan, a director of the Young Foundation, introduces an innovative kind of school where learning and working are integrated: 80% of the curriculum covers real-life practical projects such as working on commission to businesses, NGOs and others. Children are assigned with a coach as well as a teacher. The schools are funded by public money, but run independently. The speaker explicates the effectiveness of Studio Schools.

Geoff Mulgan claims that such Studio Schools address the need of employers who are complaining that children are not prepared for real work and the need of teenagers who are bored with the traditional education. In other words, Studio Schools kill two birds with one stone: it is motivational for learning and these schools prepare children for real-life work. At Studio Schools teenagers learn by working, they work by learning, they learn working in teams, they learn doing things for real. In order to support his claim the author introduces the results of Studio Schools in Luton and Blackpool that after two years those students who had performed poorly obtained dramatic results from the exam.

However, although I support the point that such kind of schools might be appealing as it is more task-based, the author fails by doing a huge assumption considering Studio Schools interesting for learning without giving any pieces of evidence. He views Studio Schools only from one perspective that studying at such schools is motivating. However, it is only about one kind of learning society who enjoy learning by doing thing for real and who wants “get hands dirty”. There are other types of learners who favour learning not in a group, but individually, and not in practice, but theoretically.

Geoff Mulgan says that Studio schools meet the expectations of employers. This statement can be considered strong because the speaker makes a list of supporters of the idea of Studio School: the minister of education in London, business organizations, as well as the head of the Chambers of Commerce. Therefore the number of school is increased from 2 to 10 in a year and other 75 is planned to construct. In addition to this, various types of Studio Schools were introduced. One is focused on creative and media industries. Other ones have a focus on health care, tourism, engineering and other fields. All these shreds of evidence prove that the idea is spreading rapidly and is being supported by much as the number of learners is increasing along with the number of schools.

Although I agree that schools have to build good workers, I reckon that producing work units must not be the only and primary purpose of schools. From Mulgan`s speech, it clear that the sole purpose of Studio Schools is to develop business community. Producing informed and well-adjusted citizens is not considered. To this point, I deem that there should be less control and intrusion into the educational system by commercial interests, and more development of people through philosophy, etiquette, civics, and better presentation of academic information. The studio school seems to be a great polytechnic, especially for those who learn and grow best hands-on, however, in my opinion, it is a mistake to treat workforce training as the major concern of the education system.

Unfortunately, I cannot say that I was convinced by the speech. Maybe the primary aim of the speaker was just to give a general idea about Studio Schools and intrigue listeners to look for detailed information by themselves. Nevertheless, after watching the video I was left with several unanswered questions because the introduction of the idea is at a superficial level without enough supportive examples and evidences. Therefore, Geoff Mulgan could not persuade me to opt for Studio Schools. If the speaker had provided the audience with the information about what kind of projects the students are given, how their learning and working processes are organized, what makes the school interesting to attend and more evidences about the achievements of their learners I would be convinced.

1 thought on “Geoff Mulgan: A short intro to the Studio School

  1. Superb deconstruction post. You give a thorough summary, address the speaker’s points one at a time, and evaluate the overall persuasiveness of the talk. Your writing is also crystal clear. Well done!



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