This week’s podcast review focuses on the perspectives of parents and carers of school-aged children.
As a teacher, if you want to understand schools, you have to include the voices, views and ways that parents and carers can influence, or be influenced by them. And if you want to understand what’s wrong with schools, and the marketisation of schools, you have to look at what is arguably the most powerful force in shaping them: white parents. This is a five-part series from the brilliant Serial Productions, and while it hails from the US, there are insights to be gleaned that are easily transferable to the English school system. Many teachers passionately believe in state education and also choose to teach in tough inner-city schools ̶ but to what extent do we put our money where our mouth is and allow our own kids to be schooled by people like us in classrooms and with the kids we teach? Prepare to be challenged, it’s good.
This podcast series is fantastic at the best of times, covering a huge range of topics through five women’s experiences of modern-day motherhood, with top tips, inspirational guests, insightful topics, eye-opening honesty and lots of laughter. The episode I have chosen sees the Dope Black Mums joined by Pia Baker who, after 13 years of marriage to her husband, met the woman of her dreams. This laughter-filled, life-affirming podcast looks at sexuality, love and living your truth whatever the cost. Pia opens up about why it took the breakdown of her marriage to discover she was gay, and how her children have coped with having two mums. Demonstrating the power of the human story, this is a lovely insight into family life that undoubtedly resembles that of some of your students.
Despite the vast number of episodes in this popular education podcast series, I had to go all the way back to 2014 to find one that related to parents and carers’ experiences of education. This episode, What the Mother of a Child with Autism Wants Teachers to Know, hears the eponymous mother talk about how she communicates with her daughter’s teachers, the steps she’s taken to support her child’s social life, and three things she wishes all teachers knew about children with autism. An insightful and honest look at one family’s experience of the interaction between home and school. Again, useful human experience to help bring to life what our efforts as teachers might include for greater positive impact.
This is America’s National Public Radio (NPR) Life Kit podcast series, and the episode I have chosen is What Your Teen Wishes You Knew About Sex Education. This is useful to parents and teachers alike as we all squirm when these conversations arise, and some lucky teachers will this year be delivering elements of the new relationships and sex education curriculum to teenage students for the first time. This episode covers listening with love and humility when teens speak up about sex, how to talk about puberty, sexual enjoyment and healthy relationships, how to explain the false reality of porn and more.
This is a UK-based home education podcast that profiles the lives of (real) home educator families and aims to show how diverse home education experiences can be. This is of particular interest as it shines a spotlight on the many families who were home educating before the global pandemic was a thing and lockdown forced us all to pretend that what we were doing was education at home. The episode I have chosen is with Lexy, who talks about home educating her older children alongside infant twins, how home educating freedom can sometimes lead to flakiness and what support is needed for home educating parents of Black and dual heritage children. Contrary to dominant narratives in the education establishment, perhaps schools have as much to learn from what happens in homes as the other way around.