What if schools (why not education in general) were run by craftspeople? As Henrietta Thompson writes, “From houses to handbags, models of consumption are changing. Increasingly, we look to borrow rather than buy to ease the pressure on our over-burdened storage units, savings accounts, and souls. But, while many learn to make do with less, as with any major trend there is also big business to be found on the flip-side: collecting.” (Trends, Business Life, February 2019). She is talking about the work of artisans, creating bespoke ‘craft’ items that are in vogue…and in demand by collectors because of their exclusivity in a world of ubiquitous consumption.
What if ‘cultivated connoisseurs’ (parents) were proliferating and stockpiling school names as if they were some sort of exclusive, artisanal brand? It might be easy enough for folks to follow this path with purchases of arts and crafts — creating conspicuous consumption, but what if school brands also allowed…even encouraged (gasp)… cultivated connoisseurs to do just that with international education? Imagine stamping artisan status on a school brand, making it more exclusive than the others. It could be a well-known premium brand name in international education (proprietary brands), or it could just as well be a non-profit brand (“International School of X”). Unwittingly, perhaps we have already created a sort of Saatchi Gallery of International Schools where only the most exclusive ‘artisan’ school brands will do.
Just as the Silk Road used to serve as an important conduit of merchandise and ideas between East and West, perhaps international schools have come to serve the same purpose? Have we simply re-created ‘ancient and local techniques’ into international schools of an artisanal calibre, such that they are sought after as badges of “worth” or “value”, a sort of ‘currency of the realm’ in today’s world? Not premium, but luxury/artisan. There is a difference that ‘artisan’ invokes. Check out The Luxury Strategy if you haven’t had occasion to read it. It’ll be worth your while.
Perhaps because of the kinds of elements that inform these ‘artisan’ brands, they are worth conspicuous consumption. Or perhaps they’re not.
Who are the craftspeople and the craftsbrands? Are they heads of school? Are they proprietary groups? Are they both? How do they merit such an appellation? How does ‘craft’ manifest itself in artisan school brands? What does that mean? What does it provide that a ‘normal’ international school (whatever that is) cannot? What does it make unavailable to folks of medium to modest means?
Are we talking about this?