When embarking on my first trip to the Children’s Media Conference, Gary told me I would be “surprised about how much I already know.” As a teeny-tiny cog in a very big machine of wise and wonderful industry experts, I wasn’t so sure. Not because I don’t ‘know’ things about the industry we work in, but because I know there is so much more to learn. As a Junior Designer at the very beginning of my career I used the conference as an opportunity to learn, grow and get to know the industry I’m so proud to be working in.
So – here are my top three takeaways from CMC:
1 “Children only aspire to what they know exists.”– Prof Dr Ger Gaus OBE
During the “What next for kids” talk, Prof Dr Ger Gaus discussed how stereotypes in children are set as early as 4 years old, globally. He highlighted his work with Kidzania, a role playing experience for kids 1-14 years old, which has found richer children aspire to be pilots and surgeons, whilst the poorer kids choose jobs like window-cleaners. And this data isn’t isolated to a particular country either. This helped me realise how important our work in children’s media is, to help broaden their expectations and aspirations through allowing them to express their identities, learn in new and exciting ways, especially through play.
2 “Creativity requires playfulness.” Joseph Coelho
I particularly enjoyed laureate Joseph Coelho’s poetry workshop, not only because his poems gave me a good giggle (and a tear or two), but because it was one of several discussions that highlighted how shared experiences are SO important. Whether that's between parent and child, friend or teacher; the ability for kids to talk about what they are playing with, watching or listening to, is fundamental to their development. I’d recommend having a read of Coelho’s poetry, there’s definitely something for everyone.
3 “Us children are connected to the natural world, and we can show you that world through our eyes.” – Aneeshwar Kunchala
Seven-year old Aneeshwar opened the conference with a mesmerising speech on climate change and what we need to do collectively to combat the issues our children face today. His words showed how much resilience kids actually have and cement the way in which children are at the centre of our future and our decisions. And this theme was prevalent across the conference. Our children have a lot of hope for the future and we need to facilitate that hope in what we create and how we create it.
The theme of this year's conference was “What Next?”. So - what’s next for me? Well, I’m looking forward to exploring more of what the conference has to offer online, opening up further discussions with my friends and colleagues and applying my new found knowledge to my day to day work.