Schools My Favourite Things: 10 of the best podcasts to help you prepare for a new term
From feminist heroes to finding out how things work, we’ve found 10 of the most useful podcasts to get you and your students geared up for the months ahead.
We were sold by the cute owl at a microphone graphic on the landing page of this podcast before we even listened in, to be honest. Thankfully the content is just as rewarding. Fielding an expert per episode, professor Helen Cahill, a leading innovator in school-based wellbeing interventions, offers really interesting insights into how we rebuild from the trauma of the year that was in 2020 – from bushfires to the pandemic – and prepare for any future obstacles (alien invasion?). Elsewhere, University of Melbourne’s Larissa McLean Davies hosts a panel discussion on decolonising the English curriculum.
Given the grim headlines coming out of Canberra, it might be time to inspire your class with this ABC podcast that’s all about sharing empowering tales of women who do not muck around when getting brilliant things done. Narrated by the likes of Yael Stone, Kate Mulvaney, Leah Purcell, Dame Quentin Bryce and Claudia Karvan, it’s great for all kids of all ages. Recent episodes have spotlighted Faith Thomas, the first Indigenous person to play cricket for Australia, and Madeline Stuart, the highly sought-after model born with Down Syndrome.
Award-winning journalist Madonna King is an effortlessly engaging interviewer who does a grand job hosting this Queensland University of Technology-produced podcast that’s all about supporting and inspiring teachers. Recent topics have included a deep dive into how schools can incorporate First Nations perspectives into the classroom, and also how to empower students to be partners in their own learning. With her great guests and breezy approach, King really makes the half hour episodes sing.
STUFF THE BRITISH STOLE
If you want a creative way to explore the impact of colonialism, you and your students might dig this darkly comic podcast by SBS The Feed host and award-winning journalist Marc Fennell. Taking you from the outback town of Cobargo, via Beijing, to the British Museum in London, it’s a jaw-dropping voyage that peels back the genteel veneer to expose bad behaviour on a global scale. You can learn all about James Cook and the Gweagal shield, as well as the surprising history of Pekingese dogs.
While we’re on a fascinating history kick, secondary students with a keen interest in politics will be riveted by this meticulous look into one of the most tumultuous times ever experienced by our nation’s capital: the dismissal of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. As gripping as any true crime thriller, it’s presented by award-winning investigative journalist Alex Mann and offers a blow-by-blow account that will help inspire exciting ways to approach research projects.
TEACHERS EDUCATION REVIEW
Tackling educational issues at home in Australia and taking a broader look at what’s going on around the world, this thought-provoking podcast navigates the bridges between practice, policy and research. It’s a really good one for hearing open and honest opinions about the stuff that affects you and your classroom. Recent broadcasts have included a look at subconscious bias when it comes to student evaluations, and embracing feminist pedagogies in the face of backlash.
SCIENCE WITH DR KARL
The beloved STEM eccentric joins forces with Triple J presenter Lucy Smith for this fun hour of power, exploring how the world works. The station’s longest running segment, it’s a testament to their magnificent pairing and the snappy way that they explain the smart stuff in bite-sized bits that are easily digestible. Ever wondered why it’s so hard to dry plastic containers? Or why electric kettles are so loud? Or why being sick actually makes you feel better? Listen in and you’ll soon know all this and much, much more.
SHORT & CURLY
Walkley award-winning science journalist and kids’ presenter Carl Smith presents this fun look at ethics alongside actor, writer and filmmaker Molly Daniels. The ABC podcast might involve plenty of silly sound effects, but it’s a deceptively smart way to guide upper primary children into thinking critically. Tackling dilemmas with real-world examples, latest episodes examine the effect of smartphones on our lives, if we always need to be brave, and life and death decisions over our beloved pets.
It’s a refrain parents and carers are all too familiar with hearing. Now you don’t have to source all the answers (or blithely make them up). Kids send in their need-to-knows to this super-fun podcast and then grown-up experts provide scientific answers in an exciting and engaging way. ‘Why are mammoths extinct?’ is a great recent episode, with good emotional intelligence ground covered in the one devoted to ‘Why do we compete?’
Published by not-for-profit organisation the Australian Council for Educational Research, Teacher magazine is all about fielding new ideas to assist schools in growing stronger. Drawing on the expert advice of educators, school leaders and policy makers, their podcast series is brimming with bright ideas. Recent episodes include a look at the big five education challenges facing Australian schools, the benefits of coding, and best classroom practice post-pandemic.