Podcasts of the Month: October 2019

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In the School Kit office, we are podcast tragics continually trying to discover new podcast series and episodes. Once we've made discoveries, we're then constantly bugging each with recommendations (usually without invitation). In this spirit of regularly sharing stories, we thought we'd try something we haven't done before. We are now writing a 'Podcast of the Month' blog, so we can also talk about our favourite podcasts with our Squad.

After canvassing the office, these are some of the podcasts that we have fallen in love with this year. Hopefully, you'll be able to find something you enjoy and something that might even assist with some of the kits that we have produced. Additionally, if you've got something you think we might be interested in, please let us know. We are always on the lookout for new stories to which we can get thoroughly addicted.

The Spinoff: Business is Boring (with guest Ian Taylor)

One of the significant issues that the Tuia 250 commemorations have highlighted is just how poorly and how narrowly New Zealand history has been discussed and taught in the past. Fortunately, there are people like Ian Taylor doing their best to bring lost perspectives to the fore in compelling ways. Taylor, who heads the company Animation Research Ltd, is using his organisation's groundbreaking augmented reality technology to help bring the feats of Pacific voyagers to life. It's truly incredible stuff, and this hour-long interview gives great insight into what is driving Taylor and his team. We provided some resources that mention Ian Taylor with our Tuia First Encounters kit a few months ago. If you're familiar with that resource, then this podcast is a particular 'must listen'. Even if you're not, though, it's worth taking the time to find out some of the exciting innovations on the New Zealand history horizon.

Black Sheep: The Story of White Supremacy

William Ray's podcast is an office favourite that is a bit of a quiet obsession for us. Black Sheep deals with some of the darker stories and characters of New Zealand with a certain levity that makes the dark material perversely enjoyable to digest. This episode, however, was produced at the end of March and Ray does not sugarcoat the discussion. If you've seen our Not Part of My World kit this year, you'll be familiar with this podcast as we included it as a key resource in that kit. However, if you haven't come across this podcast, we can't recommend it enough. The Story of White Supremacy looks at how violent White Supremacy is not merely a random aberration in New Zealand. With historical examples and discussions, Ray demonstrates that it's something that has informed our history from the earliest moments of colonisation. The episode is an earnest, challenging, and honest examination of our past - but more importantly, it raises a lot of fundamental questions about our present.

Radiolab: The G Series

Radiolab is a long-standing US Public Radio broadcast that covers the gamut of just about everything from science through to Beethoven. This recent series of six episodes examine how the idea of Intelligence Quotient (IQ) came to be, and what the implications have been over the past century in American legal and social practices. It's equal parts fascinating, shocking, and disturbing. The podcast also asks some profoundly tricky questions regarding what 'intelligence' means, and if there is any value in trying to measure it objectively.

BBC: 13 Minutes to the Moon

Finding unique perspectives on the often-told story of Apollo 11 can be difficult because there is so much content already out there. What makes this podcast so interesting is that it takes a macro approach and focuses on the 13 minutes it took for the lunar shuttle to detach itself from the rocket and touch down on the moon's surface. This narrow focus brings to life the tense experiences and stories of the youthful engineers (with an average of just 27) who pulled off one of the greatest achievements in human history, under unimaginable pressure. Even with the abundance of stories about Apollo 11 in 2019, the podcast successfully constructs an original narrative that lets you soak in just how easily the whole thing could have gone so wrong.

99% Invisible: Dead Cars

In the context of human history, the way we now get rid of rubbish is a miracle. If we have too much waste to get picked up on a weekly visit from rubbish trucks, we can drive it to a centre, and pay to leave it there. In the Alaskan town of Bethel, however, the residents aren't so fortunate. Given its isolation and distance from the American mainland, most of what gets imported into Bethel can not leave. This isolation means that the town has become a literal car graveyard, as people abandon old cars where they die. Bethel is lousy with old vehicles that can not be relocated, rotting away across the townscape. This brilliant examination from the 99% Invisible team is a moving voyage through the town, that also provides some probing philosophical discussions about the nature of rubbish and current consumption. For those of you who will be doing the Sea Cleaners kit soon, the observations and discussions in this podcast will feel particularly relevant.

Bevan Morgan