Broadcasting is of comparatively recent origin, and though it is developing very rapidly, there are still a large number of ways in which it can be usefully employed.
Until recently, broadcasting was used mainly as a means of popular entertainment. Music and popular stories were relayed when people who had nothing better to do. sat round the radio and listened to it, But increasingly the radio has been put to other uses. It is now being used as a means of broadcasting news. Commercial intelligence of all kinds is now broadcast.
Among the uses to ‘which the radio has been put since a short time ago is to broadcast instructive and interesting matter for children. Bedtime stories are relayed for them, and nursery songs and rhymes. More recently attempts have been made to use the radio as a regular means of educating the young.
Broadcasting can be of great value as a means of educating young people. To the more grown-up students. the radio can offer an opportunity for listening to the talks of learned men specially qualified to speak on various subjects. A student in one place can listen to lectures by an eminent scholar in another part of the globe and can thus transcend the limitations of space. People usually have to travel to other countries in order to learn under particular teachers; but the radio can make it possible for a student to listen to the words of the teacher without actually going to him, Listening on the radio to the talk of a man cannot, of course, entirely equal the value of a living personal contact with the man. The human touch can be given only by the teacher being physically present near the pupil. But to those who cannot go to a teacher it is something that at least his voice should be available.
It is not only in this way that the radio enables us to transcend the limitations of space. Sometimes illness and other bodily handicaps prevent a man from taking advantage of educational opportunities. But the radio can take knowledge to the room of a man who may be unable to stir out but who is fit enough to listen. Many of the shortcomings of present-day educational methods – its demand that a number of students gather at one place at fixed hours – can be overcome if the radio is ridiculously employed.
To little children especially, the radio can be of great value as an instrument of education. Until the age of five or six a child cannot go to school, unless a school happens to be next-door. There may be reasons other than distance for the inability of a child to go to school till a comparatively late age. Until the child is in the charge of a teacher the mother has to be its teacher; and the mother may be handicapped in various ways – lack of time, improper educational equipment. Under such circumstances the child would begin its life considerably handicapped. But the radio can come in here and take the place of the teacher at least partially. The little child can be taught interesting games through which it will begin to understand such things as the working of the postal system, the running of railway trains and several other practical aspects of life. It can be told what to read and what to write.
But it is not only to children and young students that the radio can be of use. The defect of the present systems of education is that they leave out a large number of people, who have to go without the benefits of education. To such people the radio can be a potent source of knowledge. When they have done their day’s work and have leisure they can listen to broadcasts on various subjects. This is probably the greatest educational value of broadcasting. It is far less expensive to install radio sets in various places than it is to open school and colleges, and through the radio the torch of knowledge can be carried to the masses. Even to those who have had the advantage of a regular education t ratio can be a means of keeping in touch with books and authors and the latest developments in science and literature.
These are some of the uses to which broadcasting can be put for the purposes of spreading education. Broadcasting cannot take the place of teaching through actual personal contact; it cannot supply what is one of the greatest factors in education, the influence of the personality of one person over another. We want, too, the rough-and-tumble life of schools and colleges which helps to mold the character of young people by making them hardy and self-reliant. But though it cannot supersede the ordinary methods of education, broadcasting can certainly be of great value as an instrument of education to those a for whom the present systems of teaching cannot adequately cater, and it can be fruitfully employed to assist the teacher in the business of teaching by supplementing his work.