Here’s something I find strange.

A while back, an art school lecturer didn’t want me to come back to talk to the students because I was too hard on them.

I was too hard on the students.

Let’s just unpack that.

A working creative director was too hard on the advertising students.

The same students that will soon be looking for jobs from working creative directors.

Apparently these students won’t be able to handle being roughly spoken to by a creative director.

And the college lecturer doesn’t want them exposed to it.

Which leads us to several possibilities.

First, the college lecturer thinks that, unlike me, creative directors aren’t really rough.

They are all, without exception, gentle and charming.

Second, the lecturer doesn’t think the students can handle being spoken to roughly while they are students.

But they will magically be able to handle it when they graduate.

Or third, and this is I think the real reason, the college lecturer can’t handle it.

They have chosen not to be part of the rough world of advertising.

Where people get shouted at, and work gets rejected, and people get fired.

So they choose to work in the gentler world of teaching.

And they want their students to have a nice, pleasant time while they’re at college.

Just one problem.

That lecturer is not the one who’ll have to pick up the tab for this unrealistic attitude.

The students are, when they graduate.

If training has any purpose at all it must be to give students an advantage over people who haven’t trained.

Otherwise what’s the point of training?

But run like this, it gives students a disadvantage.

Nothing harsh must ever be said to them, in case it hurts their feelings or distresses them.

How much use do we think a college education like that is to anyone?

How much does that prepare anyone for the real world?

Surely the point is to prepare students for the real world, to learn what it’s going to be like, so they can handle it.

And to do all that while they’re in a safe environment.


The job of training for anything, surely, is to toughen you up so you can handle the real game when it happens.

So you’ll be more able to compete, not less.

Training shouldn’t soften you up, so you relax and get complacent.

The analogy for me is that a bad college is like a greenhouse.

The little plant is kept nice and warm as long as it remains inside.

Then one day, it’s suddenly thrown out into the freezing blizzard.

No gradual acclimatisation, the plant either adjusts straight away to the cold, inhospitable environment, or it dies.

Either way it’s on its own.

It’s not the college’s problem anymore.

They can carry on in their pleasant environment with another crop of students.

Pretending life in the outside world is always nice and gentle and no one ever speaks harshly.

Which is why I don’t think a lot of colleges are run for the benefit of their students.


I think they’re run for the benefit of their lecturers.