A reliable way for us all to connect: the Cannons Creek Independent School radio station

BY WENDY JOUBERT
At Cannons Creek Independent School in Cape Town, we are increasingly being asked, “How are you preparing your pupils for the second half of the
21st century?”

What a pertinent question that begs others in order to fully comprehend an answer:
What are pupils lacking when they leave the
hallowed halls of our educational establishments?
What skills are actually needed in this
21st century in which we all find ourselves?
Is what we teach relevant? How?

As a teacher, I often hear from adults about subjects that they remember struggling with at school and have since never really used the information that they learnt. Some laugh it off, but for others there is still a sense of anger at time and effort wasted. Surely we can do better today.

Realising the power of radio

In this context, the idea of school radio at Cannons Creek was raised. It was the brainchild of Ingrid von Stein. At the prospect of having to navigate high school for the second time with her daughter, who is now in Grade 7, (the first time being with her son, an alumnus of Cannons Creek), von Stein’s creative juices started to flow in the form of questions: Was there a way to reimagine the curriculum and how we view our learning spaces? What would the school need to do that? As a result of von Stein’s extensive radio industry experience and some staff members’ desire to facilitate a new ‘space’, Cannons Creek school radio was created.

Von Stein then approached our principal, Mike van Haght, who was immediately extremely keen to pilot a concept like this at our school, saying: “The opportunity to ‘make things real’ is what is so appealing – we are working to produce content that is both good and relevant”.
As the excitement built, the questions abounded: How is the specific platform of radio relevant? Who will care about the information transmitted on our radio station?? Who wants to hear this oral narrative? What perspective are we
taking? What are we really saying? How will it change the way we all see the world? If this is important to our students and teachers, how should we make others see that, and even make it important to them?

The vision

We decided that Cannons Creek radio is
about the children connecting what they
learn with the real world; it’s about
children teaching the world what they are
dealing with and giving it a voice; it’s about children interacting with a world outside school that is not really that far away outside; and it’s about bringing more possibilities into the classroom.
This vision for Cannons Creek Radio is a station run by the pupils of the school, with teachers and other future-thinking professionals providing direction and connection to skills – not the other way around. And the assisting teachers are going to return to the heart of what teaching really is, equipping, empowering and encouraging our students to think and question. It will be a defining feature of our school, enabling us to tell new students, alumni and visitors: “If you come to Cannons Creek, you are part of an actual product that is broadcast and heard all over the world – and you are going to do it”.
School needs to be like a prism: a place where children enter and, as they pass through us, are released to be clearer about
who they are and what they can be. It’s all inside them already, but we are part of what unlocks that
potential. The radio station can help us achieve this by allowing our pupils to learn, practise
and gain the necessary skills and experience that are so vital today and all
the tomorrows.

How does it all work?

At this stage, all broadcasts are pre- recorded, then edited and uploaded onto the school’s radio website. This
means that anytime, anywhere in the world, anyone can log on and listen to
Cannons Creek radio or listen via the Android App (available on Google Play and coming soon to
Apple as well). At the same time, all our content is archived and available for download as well. It is our dream to be able to do some live broadcasting from school at some point in the future. This requires a slightly different skill set and is therefore a space into which we will still need to grow.
The content for the radio station is developed as extensions of different subject areas. For example, a history assignment

“The vision for Cannons Creek radio is a station run by the pupils of the school, with teachers and other future-thinking professionals providing direction and connection to skills – not the other way around”.

where an interview would flesh out the syllabus content, can now be recorded. Dialogues and set works tackled in language classes are recorded and are available for revision purposes, as well as providing extra, much-needed practise for pupils that are learning additional languages. The bonus is that this work can be revisited countless times as well as being an additional resource available to others who do not attend our school.

Anywhere, any time

All the initial equipment needed comes in a box – complete with two state-of-the-art microphones, mic stands, mini mixing desk, earphones and a laptop that has been modified for the express purpose of recording and broadcasting to radio. This equipment is so compact that it can be moved around, and as such, is currently in a classroom.

This means that teachers can use any suitable venue to record during lesson time.
Take a listen on www.cannonscreekradio.co.za or download the Cannons Creek Radio App in the Google Play store. If you would like to know more about school radio, please visit: www.goradio.co.za

Wendy Joubert is the Cannons Creek radio station manager and also teaches tourism at Cannons Creek Independent School.

Category: Winter 2019

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