July 26, 2022

S2 Ep6 – Meet the Internet's Dad and find out about the new faces for education in parliament

S2 Ep6 – Meet the Internet's Dad and find out about the new faces for education in parliament

Shane Green talks with Rob Kenney, the father behind Dad, how do I?, the YouTube channel giving practical ‘dadvice‘ for everyday tasks, Michael Broadstock talks with ISV Chief Executive Michelle Green about the new faces fronting the education portfolios in Canberra and at Spring Street, and ISV’s Student Film Festival .


Timestamps for this episode's content:

Mike talks to Michelle Green about new education Ministers:  0:30

Mike talks to Michelle Green about ISV's student art show and 2022 student film festival:  4:25

Shane talks with Rob Kenney about Dad, how do I?:  9:27

Ben Hardy-White describes the reaction to his film in the 2019 student film festival, Year of the Cat 20:08

Links to what we discussed:

ISV Student Art exhibition / isArtworks 

ISV Student Film Festival

Dad, how do I? YouTube channel  

Dad, how do I? website

Year of the Cat (Short Film) 

Eltham College website

isPodcast is also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon music, and Google podcasts. You can connect with ISV on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. 

 

Transcript

Note: isPodcast is produced for listening and is designed to be heard. We encourage you to listen to the audio, as it includes emotion and emphasis that’s not on the page. While every care is taken, our transcripts may contain errors.   

Natalie Moutafis: 

Hi, everyone, and welcome back to isPodcast, ISV's show for schools and the wider community. I'm Natalie Moutafis.  

On today's episode, Shane Green talks with Rob Kenney, the dad behind the Dad, how do I? YouTube channel, giving practical ‘dadvice’ for everyday tasks, but first, Michael Broadstock talks with Independent Schools Victoria Chief Executive Michelle Green about the new faces fronting the education portfolios in Canberra and at Spring Street. 

Michael Broadstock: 

Welcome back to isPodcast, Michelle. 

Michelle Green: 

Thank you, Michael. It's always lovely to be here. 

Michael Broadstock: 

Well, lots happened since we last spoke in isPodcast. We've had a change of government nationally, a shuffle on the Labor front bench, and a new face in the education portfolio. 

Michelle Green: 

Yes, and so much has happened that we've almost forgotten the federal election campaign. One of the real positives for us in the election campaign was that the two major political parties, who were contesting the election, agreed on some core principles, and those principles were vital to the work that we do, that our schools do, and that our parents expect.  

We had both the Coalition and the ALP, talking about how much they value Independent schools as vital partners in our education system, alongside government and Catholic schools, which is really great for parents to know that their decisions are supported.  

So, along with that came a commitment to funding and government support for parents' right to choose Independent schooling. Not commitment that Independent school parents would get more than anybody else, as a matter of fact, they get much less, but a commitment that there was a right for government support, so it reflected a really long-standing bipartisan support for non-government education, and that was wonderful in the election campaign. 

Michael Broadstock: 

Yeah. I think it's fair to say there was a bit of a surprise when the new ministry was announced, and Jason Clare became the new Education Minister after Tanya Plibersek, who'd been Shadow Education Minister for six years, became Environment Minister. 

Michelle Green: 

Yes, that's right, and it was a surprise for us, but firstly, let me congratulate the new minister on his appointment. We know he's got a strong commitment to the importance of education. We know from what he’s said publicly, that he believes education to be a powerful cause for good, and we can all support that and support him in his views. We look forward to continuing the positive and constructive relationship that we had with Tanya Plibersek. We know that Tanya had a strong passion for education. We're really pleased that Mr. Clare also has a strong passion for education, and we're looking forward to what we can do together. 

Michael Broadstock: 

And, of course, in Victoria, there's also been changes in the education portfolio. 

Michelle Green: 

That's right, Mike. James Merlino announced that he wouldn't be contesting the November state election and that he'd be stepping down as Education Minister. We think it's important to pay tribute to James Merlino. He had a genuine interest in and enthusiasm for education and for student well-being, also an enthusiasm for the arts in education, which we particularly appreciated.  

James knew the important role of all schools and their teachers in nurturing and transforming lives of young people, and it was great that we were able to use the partnership between government, Independent and Catholic schools with the Minister to provide some real changes in education. 

I thanked James for the approach he took. He was always open to engagement with us and with our schools. He attended ISV functions. He engaged with our principals. Some of our questions were fairly frank, and he gave us fairly well-considered responses to our questions and also questions that our principals had, so we thank him for that and wish him all the best. 

Michael Broadstock: 

And our new Education Minister? 

Michelle Green: 

Natalie Hutchins is the state's new Education Minister, and we congratulate her on her appointment. She has extensive ministerial and parliamentary experience, and she brings this to the role, and so we're looking forward to continuing our strong relationship with the Minister, the department, and with the government, something we've had with education ministers from both sides of politics over many different governments now. 

Natalie Moutafis: 

You're listening to iSpodcast. 

Michael Broadstock: 

Away from politics and a change of pace. The arts, obviously, they play a very important role for us at ISV, and we've got some important celebrations and events coming up in August. The first of those is our annual Student Art Exhibition. 

Michelle Green: 

Yes, Mike. It's hard to believe this is our 17th exhibition. We've got 74 artworks from seven schools, and just like the students who created them, the artworks are really diverse.  

These works were completed in 2021, it’s the second year in which most schools were part of continuing lockdowns and remote learning due to COVID-19, and we all know what trying circumstances they were, so it's a tribute to the resilience and the determination of teachers to deliver an art space curriculum online. It's a really interesting exhibition. 

Michael Broadstock: 

You began the Student Art Exhibition. Can you take us back to those early days and what you wanted to achieve? 

Michelle Green: 

Yes. I wanted this to be beyond an art exhibition. What I was trying to do was to bring student voice and student agency into not only the deliberations of ISV, but also into the deliberations of people who don't always spend time with young people.  

So the idea was not to just have an art exhibition that was static, where we invited ISV principals and parents to come along, but to have something where there was traffic from all members of the public, so that people could see the great work that young people are doing and pick up on some of the themes that are important to young people as we go forward.  

From that respect, we now have the largest collection of online, art images from young people over now, 17 years, and we can do some retrospective work with that, but also, what we've got is a group of young artists now, who are coming back to us and saying, 'Do you know, you made a change for me when I saw my art hanging in your exhibition, and it's had an impact on my life’, so it's had a great spinoff. 

Michael Broadstock: 

Fantastic. Now, we've got a new dedicated public gallery space at the Docklands. 

Michelle Green: 

That's right. We're really fortunate to have the space at the Docklands, because what it does is it underlines that we're part of community, that this is not a transitory exhibition, which is in a gallery where people have to be quiet and tiptoe around, where they can't bring their families, where they can't just interact with the artwork, so it's been a tremendous success, and Anne Smith, who's our Arts Learning Executive and her team have made it a really vibrant space.  

COVID and lockdowns forced us all online, so we were able to launch an online student art gallery, isArtworks, which displays not only the current exhibition, but also works, as I say, from previous years. It's really a living history. 

Michael Broadstock: 

Of course, we're about to announce the results of our annual Student Poetry Competition, which is part of our Arts Learning Festival. 

Michelle Green: 

Yeah. As you know, Mike, this is always exciting for me because I have a passion for poetry, and when I read and see the poems, I'm so impressed and moved by the talent that we are seeing, a talent of young people. So we've seen the competition grow every years. This year, we've got a record number of entries, close to 400, and we've introduced a new category, performance poetry. Students have been asked to create a video of them performing their work. Now, I hear from the poetry team there are some really impressive entries. 

Just recently, I spent some time with a performance poet, somebody who not only writes poetry, but collaborates with a team of musicians to provide evocative background for the poetry, so I have a feeling that we might see some very special spinoffs from the performance poetry category, which is becoming very, very popular. 

Michael Broadstock: 

I look forward to sharing that with our isPodcast audience as the next few episodes unfold. 

Michelle Green: 

Yes. So will I. 

Michael Broadstock: 

Let's not forget our annual Student Film Festival. It's also part of the Arts Learning Festival's, and entries are now open. 

Michelle Green: 

Ah, yes. This is again, something providing a showcase for the talents of students, but also providing us with a wonderful insight into where we are, where students are, what it is that floats their boat, if you like, what it is that they're concerned about, what it is that they're excited about, it’s become a mainstay of the arts calendar.  

This medium of short films really enables people to express themselves, so each year, there's an array of styles and subjects. This year should be no different. I've already seen some ideas that people have and some of the films, so I'm really looking forward to it. 

Michael Broadstock: 

Definitely looking forward to the films coming through there. Well, thanks again for joining us. We'll put links to all of that in the show description, so if you want to find out more, just click on the links. 

Michelle Green: 

That's great. Thank you, Mike. 

Michael Broadstock: 

Thanks, Michelle. 

Natalie Moutafis: 

When Robert Kenney started his fix-it YouTube channel, Dad, how do I?, he wanted to make fatherly how-to videos just for his own children. Now, he has over two million subscribers (actually more than four million - ed) a podcast, and a book, all about giving practical ‘dadvice’ from how-to videos, inspirational messages, and good old-fashioned dad jokes.  

Talking with Shane Green from his home in Seattle, Washington State, Rob explains how it all started and how he became known as the ‘Internet's dad’. 

Shane Green: 

Rob, welcome to isPodcast. 

Rob Kenney: 

Thanks for having me. 

Shane Green: 

Rob, lets start at the beginning. For those who don't know, what is Dad, how do I?, and where did the idea come from? 

Rob Kenney: 

Yeah, it's just something I thought of. I have to adjust the time frame now because we're two years in. I did think of it a couple years even before I started the channel. I pictured one of my kids in the other room yelling, "Dad, how do I ...," and that's where I came up with the name and- 

Shane Green: 

That's great. 

Rob Kenney: 

Yeah, trying to download some information from my head that I had to learn the hard way. 

Shane Green: 

Now, your own personal story's really important, isn't it, and that's really where the idea came from. Can you take us through that? 

Rob Kenney: 

Yeah, without getting very far into it, my dad left when I was 14, and my mom was unable to take care of us, and so I ended up living with my brother, who was 23 at the time, which him and his young wife were basically kids themselves, and so there was a lot of things that I missed out on learning, and so that's a big part of what I'm trying to do in my channel.  

I'm also trying to encourage people to forgive because I eventually forgave my dad, and I shared that in my book as well. 

Shane Green: 

Yeah. I mean, that's a really big thing and that really struck me because that forgiveness, without that, it would've really affected your life in a very big way. 

Rob Kenney: 

And I was allowing it to. I'm not trying to act like: 'Oh, I was quick to forgive him.' It took me a long time and through a lot of tears, and when I finally ... I heard somebody say unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping it somehow hurts the other person.  

When it was put that simple to me, that was something I could get my head around, and I was like, ‘Man, that is me. I need to let this go, because if I'm waiting for my dad to ask for forgiveness, it may never happen’, and so I forgave him long before he finally did actually ask for forgiveness. 

Shane Green: 

Rob, out of all of that, it must be a wonderful feeling to produce something so positive and affect so many lives. 

Rob Kenney: 

Yeah. I'm so grateful for the platform that I've been given. I'm a man of faith, and I feel like I'm able to, yeah, try to share a little bit of God's love in my small, finite way to the best of my ability, and it's, yeah, it's such a blessing. I'm so grateful for being able to do it. 

Shane Green: 

Well, let's get to the videos. The first one, I think was ‘How to Tie a Tie’. What was that like to make? 

Rob Kenney: 

Yeah, it wasn't much. Like I said, I thought of the idea a few years before I actually launched it, and my daughter kept getting on me, "Dad, you need to do it. You need to do it."  

Then finally, I ran out of excuses because we were in lockdown over here, and so tying a tie, there's not much of a commitment there, not a whole lot of planning ahead. I just put up the camera and showed how to tie a tie, and it didn't ... 

It probably took me less than 15 minutes to really produce what I wanted, and then the rest is history from there, kind of.  

I did ‘How to Shave’ and ‘How to Change a Tyre’, and how to put up a shelf. I think I had like six or seven videos up by the time it actually went viral, so I didn't have a whole lot of content at the time, and so I was scrambling to get up some valuable content. Now, I'm about 130, I think, 130 videos in, so if I take a week off, it's not such a big deal because I have enough where people can go back and look at some older stuff. 

Shane Green: 

Of course, now, you've got four million subscribers or just over. Did you ever imagine attracting that sort of following? 

Rob Kenney: 

No way. Yeah. I've said from the get-go that I thought I was going to have 30 or 40 people. I was just trying to make a nice, tight community, and I was answering and replying to everybody, you know? I thought that that's what it was going to be, and I'd be out on a walk with my wife, with our dogs and like, 'Oh, look at that - I just got five more subscribers. I'm up to 300’, and I was like, even that was beyond me’. I couldn't believe it was that big.  

Then, yeah, in May, I started the channel April 1st, and then right around May 20th is when it went viral, and then I was gaining hundreds of thousands of people all at once. 

Shane Green: 

Wow. I imagine that must have been overwhelming at times. 

Rob Kenney: 

It was, absolutely. It was actually terrifying because I consider myself an introvert, and so it really honestly scared me. I didn't start the channel to switch careers. There wasn't a master plan of, ‘this is what we're going to do’. You know?  It just kind of happened.  

It was scary because I had to grapple with the fact that my face was everywhere, and if you Google ‘Internet's dad’, that my face comes up, and that's not anything I've done. I'm not changing the SEO or anything or getting it out there to drive it to the top. It just is there. 

Shane Green: 

Which sort of really tells you, you've got a really good idea, and that must be quite encouraging as well. 

Rob Kenney: 

It is. Yeah. I have shared this, though. It's a little bit heartbreaking, the flip side of how needed it is. If you spend any time on my channel and you read the comments, it can be a little overwhelming. 

Shane Green: 

Yeah. I actually have read the comments, and there was one, particularly, Rob, that struck me. This dude just adopted everyone on the internet that doesn't have a dad. 

Rob Kenney: 

Yeah, and I still get that. How do you feel with four million kids? You know? It's, yeah, I am just, again, just trying to be faithful, trying to do the right thing. I try to not have a whole lot of bells and whistles. 

I don't say, "Hit the subscribe button." I've never ever said that, even though that's pretty standard, and then, "Make sure you put the notifications on." I've never ever said that. I probably need to get into a groove a little bit more. We're two years in. I probably should do a little bit more of that, but everything's kind of been organic. I haven't promoted a ton, so ... 

Shane Green: 

And, of course, you've got a lot of family support. Your daughter looks after your social media, I believe. 

Rob Kenney: 

She does, and she did that almost out of compassion for me because she didn't want to just leave me hanging out there, but she has her work, and so she's finally transitioned out, and so I have a team that's actually helping me help me with that, and part of that was we wanted to have a little bit more of a normal relationship again, because we kind of got away from that.  

I love her to death and we talk all the time. I was just on the phone with her 15 minutes ago, talking about what she has going on in her life, and so it's kind of nice to have a little bit more of a so-called normal relationship now. 

Shane Green: 

One of the things about the videos, Rob, is that it's not just how to, it's really emotional support, isn't it, that you're providing people? 

Rob Kenney: 

Yeah, and I'm glad that I'm able to do that. When my daughter and I were talking about it several years ago, like I said, I said, 'There's so much more to be in a dad than just running around the house, fixing things'. 

I said I really hope I get the opportunity to kind of share my heart with people, and also, I wanted to encourage other dads as well, to understand the great opportunity that you have as a dad, to hang in there and enjoy the window that you have your kids at home because it goes by so quick. 

Shane Green: 

Now, two years on, there are a lot of exciting things happening for you. Can you outline some of the great things coming up? 

Rob Kenney: 

I've got some great sponsorships that are finally ... I get sponsors reaching out to me on a weekly basis, several every week, and not a lot of them fit, but I feel like finally, I'm kind of waded through and got a few good ones that make sense, because I'm still working.  

I still have my day job because I'm just trying to make sure that my wife and I, we're close to retirement, we're both 58, and so I just want to make sure I don't pull up short with my regular job. I've probably been overly conservative with that, but I do feel like we got some things coming our way. There's been talk of an unscripted show and also of even a sitcom, so there's a lot of different things that are kind of out there, but nothing solid yet. 

Rob Kenney: 

Nothing's been finalised. I've found things don't happen so quick, as what I thought was going to happen two years in. I would've thought we'd already be there, but yeah, so that's still kind of hanging out there. I did get to write my book, and that came out last year, so that was pretty exciting. 

Shane Green: 

Yeah. Well, tell us, please, tell us about the book. Is it the print version of the video? 

Rob Kenney: 

Well, no. It actually, it gives you a little bit more insight into my background, and so when the publisher came to me, because I had a couple publishers wanting to see if I was interested in writing a book, and I said, 'The idea that I have is ...'  

Because I think it's important to not only show people how to do stuff, but also to help people understand what it means to be a good human, and so when I turned 50 ... I'm one of eight kids, and I'm number seven, and I went around to each of my older siblings and said, ‘This is what I learned from you, and it's a great character trait’, and so that's what the first half of the book is about. It's kind of giving you a little bit more history of what transpired in my life of forgiving my dad, but then, I walk you through each of my siblings and talk about a great character trait that I would love to pass on to people.  

Then, the second half of the book is … There's 58 how-tos. I promised 50, and then I think it's always good to underpromise and overperform, so I added eight additional ones in case, so people don't say, 'Dad, that one wasn't very helpful’. I kind of heard myself there. 

Shane Green: 

Rob, I will put all the details of where to find your YouTube channel and where to buy the book in the show notes. It's been an absolute pleasure having a chat today. Thanks for joining us on isPodcast. 

Rob Kenney: 

Thanks for having me on. 

Natalie Moutafis: 

That's all for this episode of isPodcast. We're going to leave you with former Eltham College student, Ben Hardy-White, sharing what it was like for him taking part in our first Student Film Festival in 2019. We hope it encourages other young filmmakers to participate and that they enjoy the same warm reaction he received.  

You can subscribe to our podcast channel on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, or wherever you get your podcast from, so you can be notified of any new podcasts as soon as they land, and while you're there, we'd love it if you could rate and review us so more people, just like you, can find us. 

Ben Hardy-White: 

A lot of people ask me, 'What is your film about?’ and I have my own views on what the film's about, but what's really special to me is hearing what other people think, and people coming to me with views on the film with ideas about it that I'd never even considered. You have people that come to you and they say, ‘Your film is definitely about climate change, isn't it?’ and that is so just rewarding to know that you've made something that has such an ability to create so many different opinions about it. Really, as an artist, I think that is one of the best things, is handing it over and asking people, ‘What do you think? What does this mean to you? What is the message of this thing?’ 

Natalie Moutafis: 

isPodcast is brought to you by Independent Schools Victoria. It's produced and recorded by Duncan MacLean and presented by Michael Broadstock, Shane Green, and me, Natalie Moutafis. Our podcast theme was composed and performed by Duncan MacLean. You can find transcripts of our shows with links to what we've discussed at podcast.iseducation.com.au .