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Developing politics knowledge beyond the classroom. Part five: podcasts

Mike McCartney

3rd December 2020

On my way to school this morning, I spotted a gap in my series on what we could also possibly continue to call boosting your personal statement for UCAS.

These entries on sources to boost one's knowledge and understanding of politics are one part what I personally have found fascinating or intriguing, and one part me acting as learning facilitator to point students in the right direction so that they can, one hopes, find something that really matches their own interests.

With regards to the former, I have just finished a podcast mentioned already on this page:

It's available on Spotify and the BBC and it is the best audio documentary I have ever heard. As someone who was teaching British Politics during this era, I was often asked what the reasons for going to war in Iraq were. And while this series doesn't definitively answer the question, it is an engrossing, and at times jaw-dropping, journey that gets closer to the answer.

As part of regular podcasts listens, there is the weekly Economist edition:

I asked a former student, who is now a Politics Professor in Washington, DC, if he had any recommendations, in the knowledge that he is also an avid podcast listener, for any politics type output that I might not be aware of. He hadn't, and more of that in a bit.

I also dip into Pod Bless America - easily searchable.

I hope you will find something you like, via these general recommendations.

This is from the run-up to the US election 2020, so US focused.

This is UK and US in its suggestions.

Going back to my former student's reply, he said that listening to politics podcasts when he is running stresses him out to much, and he is more relaxed listening to stuff like crime fiction. I suppose it is engaging and intellectually challenging - much what you'd expect from a university professor. Which made me think. There is podcast material out there that is informative and interesting, and not necessarily directly related to your subject. So for personal interest, for example, I listen to More or Less (presented by Tim Harford), and catch up on Friday Night Comedy from Radio 4. There are worse thigs you could do with your time. And dare I say it? Worse things you could put down on your UCAS form.

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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