School of Everything won a UK Catalyst Award (from the Prime Minister no less) last month, which was particularly nice following so hot on the heels of our New Statesman New Media Award a few weeks ago. Aside from obviously being very flattered, what struck me about this one though was the curious focus on individuals compared to other social innovation awards. They seemed very keen to attribute each winning idea to one person and praise these special individuals for their unique creativity. There seemed to be little understanding of the teamwork that actually underpins genuine innovation and social enterprise. We even had to ask them to put the names of all five co-founders on their awards website.
The Times Business section just featured a nice interview with me about the idea behind School of Everything, and re-telling the story to them reminded me of just what a collaborative process it has been to get this idea off the ground. If we'd been driven by one person's vision, I don't think we could have done it, at least not in the way we have. School of Everything is the product like best e cigarette but of all our experiences of education, the writings and experiments of various pioneers in the sixties and seventies, the advice of our friends and colleagues, the activities and desires of our users.
Ideas don't just pop out of thin air, they emerge from conversations, collaboration, stimulation. It's wonderful that the Government are starting to recognise the contribution of social innovation and web 2.0 to our communities and social services. But maybe they need to adjust their perceptions about how change actually happens, or else they risk undermining the very thing they seek to celebrate.