Inspiration is what you need to succeed

By Julie Kissick

As an undergraduate, I was fascinated by the 19th century novelist George Eliot, (aka Mary Ann Evans). Her unconventional life, strength of character and dogged determination to do things her way inspired me. Eliot was a woman ahead of her time. Like all great authors, she divides opinion. To me she was a brilliant bohemian, an insightful writer who believed in the authenticity of her characters. She understood the people she wrote about. She knew what motivated them. Her writing was a revelation – as was the lecturer who taught me about her. His passion for the literature of that period was contagious. Our tutorial groups were the highlight of my week because inevitably I came away wanting to read more, learn more and understand more. The insatiable appetite was ever present.

Teaching is without doubt one of the most rewarding careers. Being charged with inspiring, nurturing and instructing others carries a huge weight of responsibility. There is no point in doing it unless you are prepared to give the best of yourself in order to bring out the best in others. Success is measured in terms of results and league tables. The more students with top grades, the more successful the course and the teaching team behind it. Right? Wrong.

For the past three weeks, students studying a variety of undergraduate and post-graduate radio, journalism and on-line courses have worked together on Exposure (Radio).  www.exposureradio.org The multi platform project is the culmination of the student learning experience – an opportunity to demonstrate the skills they have developed during their studies in as near a professional environment as the constraints of academic testing allows. The project bears little resemblance to the way my English degree was assessed. It consisted of a series of exams which lasted for three hours each and determined whether students had sufficiently understood and could recount the appropriate information about the set texts. The subject areas are obviously very different, but ultimately what all students need to be able to show is that they have reached the required level of learning, and it is our job as academics, to get them to that mark. Not everyone can achieve a first class honours degree. Nor should they. The process of learning happens in different ways for different people. What graduates should acquire along with their degree certificate, is an understanding of their subject area and of themselves. Everyone should leave university knowing that they have been challenged and inspired intellectually, practically and emotionally.

This year’s live project got off to a slow start. That was disappointing for all concerned. But steadily, day on day, content and working practices became more professional and evidence of learning was clear to see. That sea-change built confidence and with that came the desire in most to strive for further improvement. As I’ve read through the student reflections on the project, I’ve been reminded of the words of American author, inventor and politician Benjamin Franklin: “Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I learn.”

This is what some of the Exposure ’13 team said about their experience:

I think Exposure was absolutely fantastic and such a brilliant opportunity to see and be a part of a working radio station. I am very sad that the programme has ended but am happy that I had the chance to be a part of the team. It was the best experience of my time at university and I have learned so much … How to communicate with people, building a list of valuable contacts, the importance of deadlines. Many, many things. But I have truly enjoyed my time working on Exposure.

I really enjoyed my time throughout Exposure. Even though I moaned a lot, it really showed me some good transferable skills to take with me into the big wide world.

I can’t believe it’s over. I am sad, happy, relieved and disappointed all at once. There’s a huge part of me that wants to keep going so that I can make it better. It wasn’t awful what we did, but it could have been far, far better. I gave it everything I had and I feel exhausted but I just want to make it better … I think over the past three weeks I have learnt so much. From knowing how to organise myself better, to organising others, learning to listen more, how to give feedback productively and successfully. I’ve also learnt to have more confidence in myself and my abilities.

Today was the first time that I have felt that I am a valuable member of the Exposure Project. I have produced pieces throughout and shows but I have never felt that I have brought something to the table that somebody else couldn’t have done just as easily. However what I did today, although in essence quite simple, I feel I put quite tactical thought into and it showed in the end product even under the time constraints. I was also really pleased to have been able to help somebody else out with my efforts and as we edge ever closer to the finishing line, for me the rest of this experience is about doing everything we can for each other to make sure we achieve as much as we can.

I have learnt a lot in the past three weeks, a lot about preparation and organisation as well as the workings of a professional station. It’s been hard work and I think that sometimes I haven’t produced work that is up to my best standard but I know that I gave it a good shot and put a lot of effort into getting my packages in before the deadlines.

Exposure has been very insightful, rewarding, enjoyable and stressful! I have learnt that planning makes a whole lot of difference. Over planning is so much better than under planning. I have learnt that some people find things harder than others to complete but this doesn’t mean they can’t do a fantastic job with the finished project. Exposure has inspired me to perfect my skills in editing as I feel I have progressed huge amounts in the last 3 weeks. Exposure has inspired me to be more creative with the packages and shows I produce. Most of all Exposure has inspired me to remember to have fun with Radio, as after all it is what I want to pursuit as a career after university. This project has made me realise that I am capable of producing unique, creative and interesting radio.

I wish to thank everyone that has made this experience fun and enjoyable. Thanks to both James and Julie for all of their comments that have very much pushed us all on and developed our learning for working in a professional environment for radio.

I think Exposure was a fantastic experience in so many ways. It rekindled my love of live radio and the unpredictability that comes with it. Irrespective of what grade I end up with, there are so many positives I can take out of this. I’d just like to thank all the staff for their help over the past few weeks.

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About Julie Kissick

I'm a journalist with extensive experience working in radio, television, newspapers and magazines. I've been a manager, broadcaster and content producer for various media outlets including BBC, ITV and Northcliffe Newspaper Group. I have a passion for teaching and learning, social media and football.
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