Perpetually in Beta

29 January 2013

'Perpetually in Beta'... is the phrase John Kieffer, chair of A New Direction, used in relation to creative entrepreneurship at the CENTRES (Creative Entrepreneurship in Schools) conference last week

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Perpetual Beta is used by software developers to describe early release of a product that can be updated and adapted in response to users; in this way users become co-developers. The reference to software development highlights the importance of coding in teaching the right type of skills and knowledge for the evolving world of 21st Century work.

Perpetually in Beta can sit alongside other words, creativity, culture, and creative entrepreneurship, each of which outline an approach. 'What is the language, what are the different words we use to describe this approach?' was also a subject of debate at the conference.

The debate highlighted the through-line from the creative processes of the arts to creative entrepreneurship; the language is the same; taking risks, getting the ideas out there, getting words on a page, re-drafting, failing early/failing often, all driven by a passion to improve the work, to solve problems. The same passion drives the prototype design, the scratch performance of a play and the app in beta. The word culture as it first appeared in Europe in the 19th Century meant the process of cultivation or improvement.

This motivation and passion to solve a problem, this habit of obsessively figuring things out is what Steve Ackerman, Managing Director of Somethin' Else, highlighted in his key-note address at the conference; these are some of the attributes he looks for when employing young talent. The Creative Industries are well placed to cultivate this talent and the Creative Employment Programme is a timely way of helping organisations recruit young people from different backgrounds.

The forward thinking schools, FE colleges and training providers link to the Creative Industries so that creative work in the class-room mirrors real life experiences. This motivates a young person, as Honor Wilson-Fletcher, CEO of the Aldridge Foundation, noted at the conference;

'...a young person thinks "If I am in control, I can see the point of my learning."

And this ownership particularly applies to failure. When Samuel Beckett writes, "Try again. Fail again. Fail better," he advocating that we work in perpetual beta.

Learning can come out of that which does not work. Teaching Creative Entrepreneurship in schools encourages innovative behaviour, responsibility, team-working and the determination to solve problems.

CENTRES – Creative Entrepreneurship in Schools is a multi-country project co-funded by the European Commission, British Council and eight organisations across Europe. A New Direction is the UK partner. Read more here