I never quite got podcasts
It is probably partly because of my ADHD, but I couldn’t see the point. People listened while driving, running and shopping to name only a few activities.
When I am driving I am listening to music. It is background noise and doesn’t require concentration. Anything that requires my concentration, or active listening needs to be the only activity I am engaged in at the time. And in the car, my concentration needs to be on the driving thing.
It had also not occurred to me that podcasts could actually be entertaining, I thought they needed to be about serious subjects, often related to business.
A few people have told us we should start a podcast, but we couldn’t really figure out what we would talk about. How ridiculous that thought was, will be apparent soon.
From the very beginning of We Teach Well, Judy and I wanted to create a way that teachers in different countries could share their knowledge and understandings with each other. This would give them more confidence when introducing new texts, and we know that confident teachers create better outcomes for students. We had all kinds of ideas of how we could do this. Most of these required a greater injection of capital than we had on hand.
Finally, I realised that a podcast was the simplest and least expensive tool to start helping English teachers. And it could be done immediately.
It was time
2020 was an awful year for a lot of people and 2021 looks like being much the same, depending where you live. But, I think that for teachers it had a lot of benefits. One of these was that we got better with tech. And people were talking about podcasts a lot.
So I figured it was time. We would launch a podcast. We set the launch date as January 29th and set about making it happen.
The topic and theme was a no brainer. It would be the WTW World Lit podcast and it would take the form of me speaking to teachers and writers or academics in different countries, about the historical events and cultural understandings that lay behind the literature of their country.
This is one of We Teach Well’s core motivations, to decolonise literature. To correct the wrong that has been done to much great literature that has been included in ‘English Literature’ courses but was not ‘English.’ It came from Russia, India, Latin America, Ireland etc. etc.
Tied to this is my particular obsession with cultural signifiers. Those encoded, but unspoken signifiers that only someone born and raised in the culture would understand.
We had help
We had the help of some wonderful interns from the Monash – Arts WIL (Work Integrated Learning) program. They created artwork and social media posts, wrote descriptions and email content, assisted with managing tech and sent emails to potential guests. There is no way we would have got it done without them. We also had help from a team of interns from Swinburne’s Student Partnerships. They researched the best platforms, software and hardware that we would need and also showed me how we could post the podcasts on our Website.
The wonderful gift of the Audio Technica 2100 microphone and Rode Boom arm from my son has been getting a lot of use.
So much fun to be had
I honestly can’t tell you when I have had more fun.
The format for the podcast was simple. I would have a conversation with a teacher/writer/academic and ask them to tell us about their history and culture. I was not sure how easy or hard it would be to get people to be guests on the show, and I have been blown away by the generosity of educators across the globe.
We all know that teachers often assume that no-one will be interested in what they are doing, and my heart has been warmed by people’s responses to the podcast. One of my millennial friends, who is not a teacher, has listened to every episode and really liked it. And several of the guests have thanked us for the chance to talk about their culture and literature.
So far we have spoken to educators and writers from Singapore, New Zealand, Ireland, Bolivia and Canada. We are finalising dates with educators from India and Germany and trying to pin down Australia and Indigenous Australia. Those will round out season 1.
What we have learned
- We are not completely horrified by the sound of our voices.
- I love the editing and transcribing process.
- We are not the only people who think that the study of literature allows our students to explore alternative realities and foster empathy and critical thinking.
- I think I could happily continue doing this for a very long time. Which is good because:
- There are a lot of countries in the world.
- I keep getting ideas for other themes or bonus episodes.
Because most of the talking is done by the guest, I have no problem in encouraging you to listen and share around. The guests are sharing pure gold, and I promise it will be worth listening to.
You can find all the published episodes on our website and if you fill out the form below you will know when new episodes are published.
If you find the podcast helpful we would be thrilled if you would share it with your educator friends.