The Goal of this Website and Podcast

Hi, my name is Dean Williams and I live and teach in beautiful Kyoto, Japan. This webpage and the accompanying podcast, Wonder, are predicated upon the following principles: first, young people can not only absorb and reproduce knowledge; they can also create it. And sharing with other people, teaching them, counts as knowledge creation. Second, the internet and the whole panoply of information technology constructs and services offers humanity unparalleled opportunities for connecting people in meaningful, educational, transformative ways. And finally, we adults really aren’t doing a very good job of turning those two incontrovertible truths into a synergized reality that would really help our kids. The first point is usually ignored, and the second devolves into….well, the internet as it currently exists. Good for selling and entertainment, for education, not so much.

So here goes a small attempt to change things. I should say I am being supported in this endeavor by my school, Notre Dame Jogakuin and its excellent students.

We are interested in posting student articles and audio files of high quality on a variety of topics. The posts should be less than a page long, or in the range of 1 to 3 minutes. Think of these as “Explainers”: brief, well-crafted, and informative nuggets of knowledge that the average reader or listener would enjoy learning about. The effect we want is for the visitor to say, “Hey, I didn’t know that!” or “That’s cool!”

We don’t have the time or resources to edit, so both text and audio file need to be ready to upload. For text, that means no spelling or grammar errors. More importantly, it means that you have carefully revised your draft, until it is concise, accurate, and compelling. You should have to work to submit something good enough for others to read. Ask yourself the small question: is this exactly what I want to say; is this the best way to say it? And ask yourself the larger, tougher question: why should anyone else care about this? Why do I want to tell others about it? What should they learn that’s worth knowing if they give me a minute or two of their life? You will find that as you wrestle with these issues, your piece will become stronger in every way.

Final hint: think about Big Ideas, Deep Questions, and Enduring Themes. Even in these days of fake news and general information overload, they never get old. And although your piece might be on a very specific topic like the rarity of lefthanders, or what climate change is doing to the gender balance of sea turtle eggs, these fundamental constructs are always present, waiting to be revealed to the audience through skillful writing or compelling speech.

For audio, the content advice is the same as for a written piece. Practice what you want to say (preferably from a prepared written text) until you can do it smoothly. However, this website and the accompanying podcast, called Wonder, is designed to give young people and their teachers (and parents too!) the chance to share what they have learned. So the recording does not have to be professional quality. My students here in Japan will be listening and reading to all submissions, so you are helping others by contributing your ideas and knowledge.

Audio files should be mp3 or mp4 in format. Make sure your submission includes the title you want for your post. Written pieces should be in Word or Pages.

Written pieces don’t have to have an audio file, but if you want to be on the podcast, you also need to submit a sound file.

We want to say that we are especially interested in receiving submissions from areas of the world where English is being studied as a foreign or second language.Kyoto masthead

Obviously you are giving up your intellectual rights to the piece by submitting it to us. We have absolutely no intention of monetizing any aspect of this website. Our goal is solely to connect students who happen to be living in different regions of the globe through the power of learning and technology.

Let’s get started!