It’s the end of summer, and the aisles of Target are stocked with multi-colored binders, dolphin-themed folders, and those 20-packs of gel pens. We’re in the brief, wonderful season known colloquially as “back to school shopping”time. Alas, this season is only applicable to a certain age group. Once you graduate, there’s no need to accrue blank notebooks and pencil cases.
So what does a person after they’re done with traditional schooling? Do we just let our minds atrophy? Do we count the number of brain cells that sputter out as each hour of sitting in front of a computer whittles by? No, no. There’s a ridiculously simple way to ensure you learn something new every day — and that’s by downloading podcasts.
We’ve gathered the best podcasts for lifelong learners. Each episode of these well-produced, fascinating educational podcasts will make you a smarter, more curious person. Instead of starting the morning by sitting in class, start it by listening to these podcasts’ memorable opening jingles.
1. This American Life (1995-present)
We guarantee that, after each hour-long episode of This American Life, you’ll walk away with brand-new insight to the world. That said, not all the information transmitted in This American Life is a hard fact. In some episodes, you’ll hear people recall their peculiar lived experiences first-hand; in others, you’ll learn about random topics like a heist in the niche fly fish lure trade. This American Life is a masterclass in investigative journalism. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll feel more in touch with the world.
Start With: “Switched at Birth”
2. Radiolab (2002-present).
If you want to get smart via podcast, then Radiolab should be your first stop. This Peabody Award-winning classic has been devoted to exploring all facets of the strange natural world since 2002. Radiolab’s hosts, Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, possess insatiably curious minds and explore the natural world from delightfully unexpected angles. In early seasons, each episode features multiple stories around the same broad subject, like “Words,” “Speed,” and “Sleep.” In later seasons, Radiolab‘s scope has broadened to include issues facing technology and society as well, the most recent being a look into how Facebook regulates its content.
Start With: “Colors”