How "Cheaper by the Dozen" Teaches Us the Value of Podcasting

I teach Literature to a class of 5th and 6th graders, and we just recently finished our first novel of the year, Cheaper by the Dozen, a memoir about a family with twelve children that is written by two of the children themselves, Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. I absolutely adore this charming book, and I was glad that my class enjoyed reading about this spunky, funny family as well. This memoir focuses on the the father of the family, a famous efficiency expert who travels the world conducting motion study experiments and giving lectures on efficiency. His primary “laboratory” for testing all of his theories and ideas on efficiency is in his own home. While efficiency is an important trait in today’s society, “To be efficient, in the Gilbreth family, was a virtue on par with veracity, honesty, generosity, philanthropy, and toothbrushing.” There were very few traits more noble than efficiency for Mr. Gilbreth.

A century later, efficiency is still looked upon as an almost necessary virtue. At our workplaces, in our homes, at school…we are constantly striving to be as efficient as we possibly can. Efficiency is defined as: "the accomplishment of or ability to accomplish a job with a minimum expenditure of time and effort.” The more efficient we are, the more productive we are, and the more productive we are, the greater our personal success.

So what does podcasting have to do with any of this, you may ask? Podcasting is a unique listening experience in that it does not tie you down in any way. You can listen to podcasts on just about any listening device, and they are easy and generally free to obtain. Because you can listen to podcasts on your phone, you can take podcasts on the go with you everywhere! There are hundreds of different kinds of podcasts, from sports shows to movie reviews to savvy business advice. Podcasts can teach you a new trade, give you helpful advice about a plethora of subjects, or provide entertaining and enriching content about books, movies and more (like the shows we offer at The Front Porch People).

Because you can listen to podcasts everywhere, they make it easy to multi-task! They keep your mind occupied while you complete mundane tasks at home, at work, or on the go, thereby making you more efficient! Podcasting makes it easy to learn something new while simultaneously folding the laundry, working out, commuting to work, sweeping the floor, making dinner, or walking the dog! Podcasting therefore falls right in line with Mr. Gilbreth’s philosophies about efficiency!

These tasks of folding the laundry and making dinner, etc. are what Mr. Gilbreth would call “unavoidable delay.” These things simply have to get done! However, Mr. Gilbreth, as the master of efficiency, always made the most out of “unavoidable delay.” He installed Victrolas (or record players) in all of the bathrooms in the house and instructed his children to turn on the Victrolas and listen to French and German language lesson records while they took their baths, brushed their teeth, or were otherwise occupied by tasks of “unavoidable delay.” As a result of these records, the Gilbreth children eventually became quite fluent in both French and German, and they spent no additional time learning these languages! They had to take their baths—there was no way around this—so why not make the most of their time and learn something new while they were unavoidably occupied?

I like to think of Mr. Gilbreth as an early “pioneer” for podcasting! He saw the value in engaging your mind with enlightening and enriching audio content while simultaneously occupying your body with some other task. While record players were the most efficient way to achieve his purpose in the early 1900s, you can now listen to podcasts just about everywhere on your mobile devices, which makes podcasting a much more efficient option! Here’s to making the most of our time and embracing podcasting as a means of efficiency in our daily lives!

Start podcasting today by listening to an episode of Novel Conversations, our podcast about classic literature:

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