Week in Review: Radiolab

      Friday Dialogue from Your Two                                                        Favorite Educators 

As Emily and Aubrey look back over the week they use their razor sharp wit to assess their innermost feelings about Radiolab, podcasts and Heathers. 

1.  Do you think that Aubrey has an NPR problem?

Emily: Yes, but it is a healthy problem to have.  It’s a lot better than being addicted to TMZ and Arby’s.  NPR is great, don’t get me wrong.  I do enjoy some programs (This American Life?  Hello..fantastic.  Wait, Wait…I wait all week for it).  But, let’s be honest, NPR is kind of like Heathers, minus the murder and Christian Slater.  It has a cult folllowing.  No one just likes NPR.  If they like it, they LOVE it.

Aubrey: First,  Christian Slater is all over NPR.  Second, so is murder.  Third, with a weekly audience to NPR stations at 34 million I’m not sure “cult” is the right word.  You mean a large group of enthusiastic and incredibly loyal followers.  Yes, I’m sure that’s what you mean.

2.  What value is there in having students “listen” to a radio program or podcast?

 One obvious perk is that it allows them to see a perspective and a world beyond their own, something few students are able to have until college.Some students have such a hard time contextualizing issues and seeing the bigger picture because, to them, the world really is made up of whatever exists in their zipcode.  And that is partially our fault as teachers.  We have to show them what else is out there.

Aubrey: I agree.  Podcasts allow them to see an intersection between a variety of disciplines. That’s not something I can teach just with the sound of my voice.  It also pushes them out of the center and hopefully challenges them.  I also think that listening skills are hard for students.  It’s good practice.

3.  Describe your favorite text to teach because of its “words.”

Emily:  I love the play on words in The Things They Carried.  I think Tim O’Brien does a really nice job of using “normal” words in an abnormal way.  His different functions for the word “carry” as so rich and appear throughout the book, not just once or twice.  For me, a skilled author is one who doesn’t just use nice language, but one who develops a pattern or a trend in the repetition of a word.

Aubrey: I have to agree The Things They Carried is a favorite. Anyone who can write about a girl named Mary Ann (hum the Gilligan’s Island theme song here) and in a number of pages go from a pink sweater and culottes to a necklace of human tongues is incredible.  I could linger over “Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong” for hours.

4.  Describe a moment wherein “words” failed you.

Emily: When I get really angry or upset I lose all sense of vocabulary.  I literally stop processing and of course say something stupid or inappropriate. Whenever I think of situations involving words failing me it usually involves me yelling at a student–something I rarely do.  Since it is rare I don’t have practice using the right words in the right way.  I always end up losing that battle!
Aubrey: See, I’m very good in a verbal battle.  Perhaps too good.  I tend to lose my words after reading.   Herzog by Saul Bellow and the first 50 pages, of Light in August by William Faulkner left me speechless.

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