I remember when I discovered podcasts as a medium. One summer day in 2009, I found that the iTunes store had a category called podcasts. It was content that I could download for free! I thought that was amazing.
I was very excited by the possibilities. Podcasts were a window to anything I wanted to learn. It was not limited by a place, time or a generic set of subjects. It was a medium that truly gave me the freedom to learn.
Notice that I made this discovery during the summer, when I had time to explore.
First, I listened to podcasts about comedy and unsolved mysteries (ghosts, aliens, Big Foot, Mothman etc.). My favorite two podcasts were Comedy Death Ray (now called Comedy Bang! Bang!) and one called Universe of Mystery. Then I slowly moved towards more intellectual stuff like The Joe Rogan Experience, Stefan Molyneux’s Freedomain Radio and Dan Carlin’s Common Sense.
This was happening while I was juggling school. At the time I thought of school as a necessary burden, but now I realize how useless it was in terms of shaping my future for the better. I would echo George Bernard Shaw's experience when he said,
From a very early age, I've had to interrupt my education to go to school.
Flashforward 9 years since I found the magical world of podcasts. Now, almost everything I've learned that has made a tangible impact in my life has come from them.
To show you what I mean, here are just a few life-altering things that happened because of podcasts:
- It was a conversation between Joe Rogan and Stefan Molyneux that made me realize the extent to which my childhood experiences have governed my behavior. This lead to a long road of understanding my past so that I could better control who I could become.
- It was hearing countless of call-in-shows on Freedomain Radio that taught me how to think critically and how to acquire self knowledge. It is also why I’ve become a big proponent of peaceful parenting.
- It was through a couple of Tom Wood’s interviews that I first learned about online affiliate marketing. I immediately wanted to try it and so I taught myself how to build a website. With his many episodes, Tom Woods ignited the entrepreneurial spirit in me.
- It was the great conversations between Isaac Morehouse and TK Coleman in Isaac's podcast that taught me the importance of having my own public blog, as well as the courage to actually write in it. And that's just one of the many ways they've impacted me.
- When I first heard of it, I was very skeptical about the idea of unschooling. But after I listened to a few episodes of Exploring Unschooling with Pam Laricchia, it finally clicked in me that it just might be the best way to raise children. I've been learning about it through her podcast ever since.
- It was this conversation between Derek Magill and Isaac Morehouse that gave me the idea to make a website for my running club for free in order to gain experience and build my portfolio. It was a great success and now I’m using it to create more opportunities for myself.
These are clear learning moments I can point to that have broadened my horizons. I think it's safe to say that most of the meaningful knowledge I've acquired has come from the podcasts that I've listened to, not from school. When you compare the amount of time I've spent listening to podcasts to the 15,000+ hours which school had me for, plus a few years in college, this should bring some alarm.
Maybe other people were different. Maybe they actually learned some meaningful things in school, but even then I think there remains a problem. And that problem is that schools are inherently inefficient at cultivating meaningful learning.
Perhaps I'll elaborate on this in a future post.