What my students can learn about placement reports from ‘Steve Jobs’

That’s Steve Jobs not Steve Jobs, and actually it’s about what they can learn for all evaluation and reflection, not just what they can learn about their placement reports.

I’m currently working with students on drafts of a piece of personal evaluation and reflection based on industry placements they have had within the creative and cultural industries. The thing that all students try to do is tell me the A-Z story of what they did last summer, but that’s not what I want them to do. I want them to tell me a story worth telling, by finding some moments of drama and using that to craft a narrative from which we can both, reader and writer, learn.

So here’s where we link to Steve Jobs. The people behind that movie, and especially the writer Aaron Sorkin, have spent weeks going around telling everybody that they’ve made a portrait, not a biopic:

A biopic would be a cradle-to-grave story. It would be something much closer to a Wikipedia page dramatized. Do you remember the movie from a few years ago, The Queen, with Helen Mirren? That wasn’t the biopic about Queen Elizabeth. She was at the center of the movie, but it’s about six days in Queen Elizabeth’s life.

Sorkin, interviewed by Steven Levy

We can learn more from a portrait which finds the nub of the matter and distills into impressionistic moments. A placement report — any piece of critical evaluation — that just shows a project does little to tell me about it. The cradle-to-grave, the A-Z, is factual and dry, disinterested and uninteresting. Any lived experience contains drama, any work placement or project contains key moments where we learn. So students, paint me a painting, create an impression of the moments when everything turned and you learned about yourself, about work, about the world. You can’t all be like Steve Jobs, but you can all be like Steve Jobs.

By Jon Hickman

Hi, I'm Jon. I teach and research digital culture, social media and new media practice at Birmingham City University. Find out more about me with this lovely CV: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/jonhickman Find out about my work at the Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research: http://interactivecultures.org