Talking TV with Kevin Johnson (001)

ILLUSTRATION: "Best ideas, every day" by Al Morales

ILLUSTRATION: "Best ideas, every day" by Al Morales

My pilot episode showcases a conversation with Kevin Johnson, sound engineer, director, television teacher--and a former student of mine. We open with Quentin Tarantino's definition of the frame as the basis for cinema. From there, we consider the technical (but useful) distinction between learning and acquiring skills, characters' names on Cheers, the many demands facing teachers today, and a different take on designing a school's master schedule. 

Great thanks to Robyn Horn, Kevin Johnson, Shayfer James, John Opera, Jonathan Hiam, Roy Chambers, and Meghann Plunkett for helping me navigate the technical and creative challenges of this process. The cool ideas are mostly theirs; the cheesy ones, mine alone! Songs sampled for intro ("Weight of the World") and outro ("Villainous Thing") from Counterfeit Arcade by Shayfer James. Used with permission, and available for listening and purchase at

Episode Structure

Act 1: Teaching Media-Savvy Students (04:00)

SIDEBAR: Acquisition vs. Learning (08:08)

Act 2: Rethinking Scheduling (12:42)

For more details, check out the transcript and related materials below. 



Act 1 of this podcast addresses the difference between learning and acquiring skills--a key concept for schools to consider, but also useful for businesses, families, and other learning organizations. For a quick overview, here's a blog post (and a reference worth checking out): 

Act 2 approaches an unconventional idea about assigning teachers differently, which involves a critical document--the master schedule--that every school has, but that few treat as a concrete expression of their values. To see why I believe you get a clearer sense for a school's mission from its schedule than from its mission statement: 

As I note in the conclusion, every school may not have a Kevin Johnson, but every organization has members (and clients and students) that it can learn from. This quick article paints a vivid picture of the difference it can make: 

Peter Hornlearning