Is radio too ‘old-school’ for our so-called digital natives?
On the face of it, radio is not cool because it lacks visuals that most young people have grown up with. Also, given that the screen has become our interface of life, teaching for the ear gets a thumbs down.
If we give up.
I’ve recently discovered that, in class, radio –and the recorded voice—has a remarkable potential for engagement. I’m still trying to decide if it’s the hardware (a simple, cheap corded mic) or the ‘studio setting’ I establish that gets a class all excited about creating content, and interacting.
The past few weeks, based on a lesson on sound and audio, I pushed my first graders to work on a format to make their own class radio show. I know what you’re thinking- First Graders?! They may never ‘get’ why interacting (live) is big part of learning/thinking, right?
I beg to differ.
I give them 30-second practice-runs, and then pick a ‘host’ (based on the voice recordings last week) and get that student to basically run the show.
They make a mistake, no problem. We start again. They flub on their words. We re-record.
This is a lesson that combines technology and language. Technology at the service of language. My goal in this class is two-fold:
- Let them discover a technology that helps them communicate better, think fast. New Common Core standards call for integrating “information from oral, visual, quantitative, and media sources…”
- Understand how vocabulary is key to describe an event (playing in the snow), appreciate a piece of content (a book review), show interest in a subject (the “I want to be a/an………….. because” prompt)
But by putting a child in the proximity of a medium (the visible hardware and the invisible software), I want him or her to see Language Arts through a new filter; To appreciate why good metaphors and word choices make good scripts, great stories…
I thought a lot about this yesterday, returning from Phoenix, after stopping by the Story Corps booth, at the Phoenix Art Museum. A mobile studio goes across the country letting people tell their stories. They may not have radio voices, and six-dollar words, but their stories are compelling. (While we were there, former Chief Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor was in the booth, recording hers.)
On the drive back, my 10-year old daughter insisted on listening to ‘The World’ –a news segment from Public Radio International, BBC and NPR. She’s a huge fan of the segment, Geo Quiz.
She’s a digital native. Yet it’s radio, not TV, that has sparked her interest in geography and world events. It’s not as old school as you’d think.