Honest to Pod: There is a lot we can learn from the ideas of children

Some of my favorite podcasts were made for kids.

Art by Elizabeth Gu | Daily Trojan

Nate Butkus, a 7-year-old who loves science, hosts The Show About Science, on which he talks to experts in fields ranging from ant biology to childhood cancer. Butkus is naturally curious, and he’s very smart — he asks his guests insightful questions and handles complex scientific material with ease.

Another podcast made for kids is NPR’s Wow in the World. It’s hosted by Guy Raz, a seasoned podcaster who also hosts the TED Radio Hour. On Wow in the World, he builds connections between various TED talks on a specific topic while delving deeper into the topics through interviews with the TED speakers.

With Wow in the World, Raz and co-host Mindy Thomas talk about scientific topics similar to those Raz often discusses on the TED Radio Hour, but they’re enhanced by creative sound effects and brilliant voice acting to create an engaging yet deeply educational podcast.

It’s easy to dismiss children as uneducated or inexperienced, but their critical thinking abilities often surpass our expectations, and their abilities to understand complex ideas — like those talked about in The Show about Science and Wow in the World — are surprisingly high-level.

I get to see the brilliance of children on a daily basis at Hoover Intergenerational Care, a preschool just off the corner of Jefferson Boulevard and Hoover Street. Through the Americorps Jumpstart program, other teachers and I go into the classroom twice a week, with a curriculum built around a core storybook that we read to them. The children are eager to learn, and we have the privilege of exposing them to the fascinating world we live in.

My favorite part of our Jumpstart sessions is “Let’s Find Out About It,” where we introduce them to new ideas — things we might consider commonplace, like the concept of reflections and why certain objects create them or not.

But when 3-year-olds discover these simple beauties of life for the first time, their fascination, the bright smiles that envelope their faces, their innocent voices shouting, “Teacher Karan! I can see my face in the paper! [mirror],” remind me of the amazing world around us that I too often take for granted.

Photo courtesy of NPR.

Wow in the World and The Show About Science bring that childlike innocence to all of the podcast’s topics. The genuine, curiosity that children bring to discussions of everyday life reveal unexpected discoveries about how the world works that we would never think to consider.

It’s a cliche, but kids are our future, and their education is one of the most important investments we can make today. Podcasts aren’t a medium limited to an older population; like television or books, they’re a narrative form that people of all ages should be able to enjoy. The Show about Science and Wow in the World are making podcasts more accessible for children — an educational format that will undoubtedly prove to develop a generation of insightful and creative individuals.

Working with 3-year-olds on a daily basis has taught me a lot, beyond classroom management and education skills. They’ve shown me that I live in a world full of wonders, and taught me to appreciate it. In turn, I believe it’s our responsibility to invest in our children. And podcasts like Wow in the World and The Show About Science that provide kids with insightful and complex material in an engaging way are a great way to do that.

Karan Nevatia is a freshman majoring in journalism. He is also the news editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Honest to Pod,” runs every other Friday.