For everyone My Favourite Things: 10 of the best podcasts to help with remote learning
From rebellious girls to Indigenous perspectives, we’ve found 10 of the most interesting podcasts to help engage your students from a distance.
Presented by sometime Triple J news director Daniel Browning, this Radio National-driven Aboriginal arts and culture program is a great tool for introducing an Indigenous perspective to the classroom. It will speak to secondary students in particular, with the most recent episode tackling sex education, but primary classes will also appreciate episodes on Indigenous astronomy and the Yidinji story of how the Great Barrier Reef was created.
A really fun one for younger minds bristling with big questions, kids are asked to send in their burning queries. Grown-up experts provide scientific answers in an exciting, engaging way. Recent topics have included everything from unpicking racism, to exploring forest regeneration after bushfires, to why ladybirds have spots. The latest instalment even tackles the science behind vaccines, masks and hand-washing, the perfect pandemic primer.
Early Education Show
One for educators, not children, this weekly Australian podcast gets to grips with current debates on early childhood education. It’s a lo-fi production, but hosts Lisa Bryant, Leanne Gibbs and Liam McNichols – with teaching, journalism and advocate experience between them – really enjoy picking apart the news of the week, with help from visiting experts.
More or Less
This long-running podcast from BBC Radio 4 pulls off what might seem impossible – it makes statistics not just comprehensible, but compelling. If you’ve been scratching your head on how to get the most recalcitrant learners engaged, this could be a nifty support. That’s equally applicable to maths, economics, English and media studies. In an age of information overdose and a proliferation of fake news, this is a great resource to help students become more critical consumers. Their coverage of the COVID-19 crisis was fantastic and – sadly rare right now – balanced in its analysis.
Another brilliant offering from the BBC, this is an introduction to key historical events, presented by Greg Jenner – one of the brains responsible for perennial favourite Horrible Histories. Although there’s a definite slant towards UK history, there are also some great episodes on Cleopatra, the Space Race and Pocahontas. The tone is light, the pop culture references fast and furious and the silly sound effects are likely to appeal to primary age children. A five question quiz at the end of each episode helps make sure your young students are paying attention.
Short & Curly
Presented by Walkley Award-winning science journalist and kids’ presenter Carl Smith and actor, writer and filmmaker Molly Daniels, this show may involve plenty of silliness and daft sound effects, but it’s a nonetheless smart way to guide upper primary children into thinking critically about ethics. Tackling dilemmas with real-world examples like ‘Is it ever OK to dob on someone?’ and ‘Should we ban lollies?’, the latest episode dives into the concept of free will.
The Art of Inclusion
The Diversity Council Australia podcast is a handy tool for secondary students, approaching everything from disability and mental health to discussion on LGBTIQ+ matters, race and gender. Inviting fascinating guests, they broach each subject from their lived experience. No topic is out of bounds, and the conversations are rigorous and often amusing. Speakers include Linda Burney, the first Aboriginal woman to serve in the House of Representatives, and autistic advocate Yenn Purkis. You can filter the episodes by topic too.
Stuff You Should Know
Upper secondary students should get a lot out of these laidback chats between HowStuffWorks writers Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant. The latest episode goes old-school with a look at the blacksmith profession, while others get into the nitty-gritty of everything from historical figures like Attila the Hun to the eternally mystifying craze of keeping sea monkeys. They present an engaging mix of factual research and witty irreverence. While some are US-centric, there’s plenty to choose from.
The Shakespeare Sessions
Ssecondary school English teachers or those specialising in drama will find all the world’s a stage for learning with this brilliant focus on the enduring legacy of the Bard. Including full-cast productions of his works, the audio plays are bolstered by docos and discussions. The episode pairing Wolf Hall author Hilary Mantel and beloved actor, comedian and writer Stephen Fry is particularly good.
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls
Starting life as the smash-hit, crowdfunded picture books by Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli the podcast expands these oft-unknown tales of rebellious women into 20-minute biographies. It covers complex matters in a chatty, accessible manner that’s suitable for primary kids. For an Australian equivalent, check out Fierce Girls, as narrated by the likes of Yael Stone, Dame Quentin Bryce, Claudia Karvan and Leah Purcell. Both come highly recommended for all kids.