Love as class content has applications for happier lives, writes Mark Wagner. (Getty)
About 15 years ago, I began teaching my college students about love. I had been teaching first-year writing, a course with no set curriculum, and I began to focus on the literature of love, in part enamored by Diane Ackerman’s essays in her book “A Natural History of Love.”
Over time, I’ve come to see that love is one of the most — if not the most — studied, written about and consequential subjects of human history. Students are exceedingly eager to talk about love and sex, family bonds and religious love, so much that I developed a first-year seminar called “Modern Love.” I added Erich Fromm’s “The Art of Loving” and C.S Lewis’ “The Four Loves.” There is also wisdom literature, the courtly poets, scripture, and much else to draw on.
Engaging content in a classroom is a fun thing. (Students love our discussion of how the clitoris is the one organ, in all of evolution, designed strictly for pleasure.) But love as class content has applications for happier lives. Erich Fromm argues cogently:
The parable of Adam and Eve is not about shame of nakedness, but shame and guilt because of our separateness, our awareness of the distance from nature and from god and from each other. Understanding that we each come from a condition of separateness and loneliness, we can learn that the faculty of love — as opposed to object love — is one way to cope and connect.
Our experiences — the painful as well as the progressive — are rich material for young people and have a bearing on real life more valuable than writing three-page papers on etymology or theories of child development. As I say on my first day of the seminar, the single most important choice you will make in life is who you partner with, whether you marry or not.
As I say on my first day of the seminar, the single most important choice you will make in life is who you partner with …
Coddling iPhones and reading only in bits and bytes, watching television and learning about sex through sexting and porn, today’s students are raised in the vocabulary of heteronormative lifestyles. So, I have them present on the various models of love and marriage, including those from other cultures and times: polyandry, arranged marriage, polygamy, group marriage, triads, same-sex relationships — we discuss them all.
This fall, when a student told the class they had friends who were involved in a triad, we spoke about Fromm’s point that our focus on just one person limits and distorts our ability to love. Fromm suggests we cannot love if we do not feel love for all of mankind, including oneself.
For students of the digital age, coming out of a pandemic, this discussion on self-love is critical. Both Fromm (loosely) and Lewis (strictly) rely on “the ladder of love,” which originates with Plato. The ladder climbs from affection and friendship (which includes the love of animals) through familial love to romantic love and finally, agape — literally, in awe of creation and god.
This past fall, we read Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk about When We Talk About Love.” Two couples are conversing before dinner. Terri, in a second marriage with Mel, a cardiologist, recounts her first marriage, where her husband physically and emotionally abused her and then killed himself (he told her) out of love…Continue Reading..
Canadians have been having difficult conversations with their family since the global pandemic hit, according to a survey by Ipsos. 56% of parents have been talking over the future of their children, debt and how secure the family finances are in current conditions.
Over 25% of those surveyed said they didn’t believe their family would be able to meet financial obligations if they were to pass away. Many parents fret over the cost of childcare, housing, food, clothing and basic necessities. While 63% believe that life insurance is great, over one-third of Canadians don’t have life insurance coverage.
What Is Life Insurance?
When someone you love passes away it can leave an emotional and financial hole for those left behind. That’s where life insurance comes in. It helps you provide for and protect your loved ones if something was to happen to you.
Life insurance policies offer a death benefit that can help your family pay for funeral and burial expenses, mortgage payments, debts, and any other final expenses. While the amount your beneficiaries receive varies depending on the insurance policy, knowing that you have life insurance can provide you and your loved one’s peace of mind.
Many people buy life insurance to ensure that their dependents are looked after in their absence. While this is an important reason to seek out a life insurance policy, children cannot be paid out a death benefit from your insurance company. That’s why it’s important to clearly understand how life insurance beneficiaries work and how to designate one.
Insurance can provide protection for the next generation, but it also ensures that your family’s financial needs are taken care of when you’re gone. The death benefit paid out to your beneficiaries can be used to cover whatever they want, including mortgage payments, college tuition, credit card debt, and any other financial responsibilities that were left behind.
When Should I Buy Life Insurance?
Many Canadians look for life insurance coverage when they go through a change in their circumstances. This may be marriage, a new baby, or even a divorce.
There is no set time to buy life insurance. You’ll be able to buy it whenever you’re ready. However, if you buy it when you’re younger and in your best health, you’ll pay less in premiums than if you wait until you’re older or have health conditions.
How Much Does Life Insurance Coverage Cost?
How much you pay for your life insurance premium differs depending on the type of life insurance you buy. For example, term life insurance is the least expensive but doesn’t offer high death benefits. Moreover, when they expire, your life insurance premiums will increase.
Life insurance companies take several factors into account as they are deciding on your life insurance application. These include your
Age – the younger you are the lower your life insurance premiums.
Gender – women tend to live longer than men and will usually pay slightly less for life insurance.
Medical history – if you have a medical condition or illness you’ll pay more for life insurance.
Lifestyle – applicants with riskier lifestyles, such as those who smoke, can also expect to pay more for life insurance.
How To Get The Lowest Rates
Life insurance premiums are based on many factors and shopping around to compare life insurance policies can help you find a rate that fits your budget. There are some other things you can do to ensure you get the best rate, such as:
Opt for term life insurance over whole life insurance. Term life insurance will always have lower premiums, but it’s key to remember the policy will expire and then your premiums will increase.
Apply for a life insurance policy as soon as you can as the younger you buy into a policy, the lower your premiums will be, and with term life insurance policies, your premiums stay the same through the term.
Don’t smoke or if you do, quit now. Smokers pay some of the highest life insurance premiums because they present a higher risk of death than non-smokers.
Optimize your performance on the medical exam.
Types of Life Insurance
Life insurance coverage isn’t just a one-size-fits-all solution. There are different types of life insurance designed to fit different needs and lifestyles. One is term life insurance policy and the other most common is permanent life insurance or whole life insurance. Each type of life insurance has its own benefits and premium rates.
Term Life Insurance
A term life insurance policy offers coverage for a period of time, such as 10 or 20 years. It may even cover you to a specific age such as 65 years. Your premiums will not change during this time.
When you reach the end of the term, your life insurance contract is up. At that time, you can decide to buy more term life insurance or consider a different insurance policy, such as permanent life insurance or universal life insurance.
A term life insurance policy is the most common form of life insurance policy because they are the most affordable. Many also don’t require you to take a medical exam to be approved. However, because they are only in effect for a short time, they may not be the best fit. Talking to a life insurance broker can help you determine whether term life insurance is the right life insurance policy for you.
Permanent Life Insurance
Permanent life insurance is sometimes called whole life insurance and it lasts for your entire life. That is, unlike term life insurance policies, so long as you make your payments, you’ll have life insurance. Moreover, your premiums will remain the same, making it easy to budget for and estate planning.
Whole life insurance is a unique type of permanent life insurance. With whole life insurance, part of the money you pay in premiums gets put into a cash-value account. If you decide to cancel your insurance policy, you’ll get that money back. It’s sort of like having life insurance with a savings plan. And an added bonus is that it is tax-free. However, permanent life insurance will have higher premiums than term life insurance.
Universal Life Insurance
Universal life insurance policies are similar to whole life insurance, but they have a long-term investment option. You can indicate to your insurance company how you would like the cash value of your policy invested, for example in stocks, bonds, or mutual funds.
Some policyholders use this to save for retirement or set aside money for another day. The drawback is that this type of life insurance requires more work on your part. It’s not something you want to get into unless you’re savvy at investing. Your premiums can also change throughout the life of the policy.
How To Get A Life Insurance Quote
As you work out which policy is best suited for you, it’s vital to compare life insurance quotes from different insurance companies. But that doesn’t mean you need to make several calls. Getting various life insurance quotes can be done by contacting a life insurance broker at Shelter Bay or filling in an online form on our website.
We’ll be able to give you the best life insurance quotes in just a few minutes. Once you find a life insurance policy you like, we’ll also be able to guide you through the application process, including the medical exam.
Benefits of Comparing Life Insurance Rates
Getting some quotes for life insurance online offers you a number of advantages, including
Don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home
Can get quotes anywhere, anytime
Save time as you won’t have to run around from insurance company to insurance company
You’ll potentially save money too by finding the right life insurance the first time.
Provides lots of choices. Getting life insurance quotes online means you’ll be able to find the best coverage for your needs.
Know Your Specific Life Insurance Needs
Purchasing a life insurance policy to protect your family is the right thing to do. It’s important to assess what you need and want from a life insurance policy. Ask yourself some questions, such as
How much will my family need if I pass away?
What amount of premiums can I afford?
Are there large financial burdens that will hinder your loved ones, such as credit card debt or loans?
What are upcoming costs for my family that the death benefit could cover, like college tuition?
How much should I include for inflation and taxes?
Do I have enough to cover my funeral and burial?
What about legal fees to sort out my estate? Can my life insurance policy proceeds cover it?
What Factors Do Most Insurance Companies Look At?
There are different factors that life insurance companies want to know and will play a role in determining your coverage and the premiums. These include:
Medical history, specifically any health conditions
Prescription medication you take
Medical history of your immediate family (parents, siblings)
Risky hobbies or activities you engage in (skydiving, bungee jumping, etc.)
Dangerous jobs or ones that have a higher than average hazard rate
Financial problems, like if you’ve declared bankruptcy
Know The Ins and Outs of A Life Insurance Policy
There can be a lot of fine details with a life insurance policy, and you’ll want to understand them so you don’t risk voiding the policy. One of the most crucial parts of getting life insurance is the medical exam. It’s important to be honest with your insurance company about your health conditions and risks for example if you smoke.
Customers who buy a life insurance policy but never disclose these things may be putting their family’s protection at risk. If you pass away and your life insurance company uncovers the deception, your beneficiaries may end up with nothing. You could pay thousands into a life insurance policy but never benefit.
How To Apply For Life Insurance
After you have a life insurance policy quote that works for your budget, you need to make a formal application for insurance coverage. Your application will begin with a questionnaire by one of our Shelter Bay insurance brokers. We’ll ask you some brief health and lifestyle questions that help the underwriters determine the best life insurance premium for you.
Some life insurance companies require you to complete a medical exam before they offer you an insurance policy. While it can seem intimidating, the medical exam is actually very basic. It’s just to get an idea about your health history and any medical conditions you may have.
After you’ve completed the application process and your medical exam results are in, the life insurance company will either approve you for life insurance coverage or deny you. If you are denied a life insurance policy from an insurance company, it doesn’t mean you’ll never get a life insurance policy. You can always make an application to another insurance company. Talk with your Shelter Bay insurance agent and we can help you find an insurance company that will offer you life insurance coverage.
Life Insurance Application Process
There are three ways of underwriting insurance policies. The application process will be determined by the underwriting your life insurance company uses for the policy you want to purchase.
There are three ways of underwriting insurance policies. The application process will be determined by the underwriting your life insurance company uses for the policy you want to purchase.
There are three ways of underwriting insurance policies. The application process will be determined by the underwriting your life insurance company uses for the policy you want to purchase.
This underwriting process is very, very basic. You won’t be asked to undergo a medical exam and there will be no third-party resources supply information about you. Rather, you’ll be approved or denied based on how you answer questions about your lifestyle and your health. However, your premiums will likely be higher because the insurance company
doesn’t have as much information on you as the other two forms of underwriting.
As many economists say China enters what is now the final phase of one of the biggest real-estate booms in history, it is facing a staggering bill: According to economists at Nomura, $ 5 trillion plus loans that developers had taken at a good time. Holdings Inc.
The debt is almost double that at the end of 2016 and last year exceeded the overall economic output of Japan, the world’s third-largest economy.
With warning signs on the debt of nearly two-fifths of growth companies borrowed from international bond investors, global markets are poised for a potential wave of defaults.
Chinese leaders are getting serious about addressing debt by taking a series of steps to curb excessive borrowing. But doing so without hurting the property market, crippling more developers and derailing the country’s economy is turning into one of the biggest economic challenges for Chinese leaders, and one that resonates globally when mismanaged. could.
Luxury Developer Fantasia Holdings Group Co. It failed to pay $206 million in dollar bonds that matured on October 4. In late September, Evergrande, which has more than $300 billion in liabilities, missed two interest-paying deadlines for the bond.
A wave of sell-offs hit Asian junk-bond markets last week. On Friday, bonds of 24 of 59 Chinese growth companies on the ICE BofA Index of Asian Corporate Dollar Bonds were trading at over 20% yields, indicating a high risk of default.
Some potential home buyers are leaning, forcing companies to cut prices to raise cash, and could potentially accelerate their slide if the trend continues.
According to data from CRIC, a research arm of property services firm e-House (China) Enterprise Holdings, overall sales among China’s 100 largest developers were down 36 per cent in September from a year earlier. Ltd.
It revealed that the 10 largest developers, including China Evergrande, Country Garden Holdings Co. and china wenke Co., saw a decline of 44% in sales compared to a year ago.
Economists say most Chinese developers remain relatively healthy. Beijing has the firepower and tighter control of the financial system needed to prevent the so-called Lehman moment, in which a corporate financial crisis snowballs, he says.
In late September, Businesshala reported that China had asked local governments to be prepared for potentially intensifying problems in Evergrande.
But many economists, investors and analysts agree that even for healthy enterprises, the underlying business model—in which developers use credit to fund steady churn of new construction despite the demographic less favorable for new housing—is likely to change. Chances are. Some developers can’t survive the transition, he says.
Of particular concern is some developers’ practice of relying heavily on “presales”, in which buyers pay upfront for still-unfinished apartments.
The practice, more common in China than in the US, means developers are borrowing interest-free from millions of homes, making it easier to continue expanding but potentially leaving buyers without ready-made apartments for developers to fail. needed.
According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, pre-sales and similar deals were the region’s biggest funding sources since August this year.
“There is no return to the previous growth model for China’s real-estate market,” said Hous Song, a research fellow at the Paulson Institute, a Chicago think tank focused on US-China relations. China is likely to put a set of limits on corporate lending, known as the “three red lines” imposed last year, which helped trigger the recent crisis on some developers, he added. That China can ease some other restrictions.
While Beijing has avoided explicit public statements on its plans to deal with the most indebted developers, many economists believe leaders have no choice but to keep the pressure on them.
Policymakers are determined to reform a model fueled by debt and speculation as part of President Xi Jinping’s broader efforts to mitigate the hidden risks that could destabilize society, especially at key Communist Party meetings next year. before. Mr. Xi is widely expected to break the precedent and extend his rule to a third term.
Economists say Beijing is concerned that after years of rapid home price gains, some may be unable to climb the housing ladder, potentially fueling social discontent, as economists say. The cost of young couples is starting to drop in large cities, making it difficult for them to start a family. According to JPMorgan Asset Management, the median apartment in Beijing or Shenzhen now accounts for more than 40 times the average family’s annual disposable income.
Officials have said they are concerned about the risk posed by the asset market to the financial system. Reinforcing developers’ business models and limiting debt, however, is almost certain to slow investment and cause at least some slowdown in the property market, one of the biggest drivers of China’s growth.
The real estate and construction industries account for a large portion of China’s economy. Researchers Kenneth S. A 2020 paper by Rogoff and Yuanchen Yang estimated that industries, roughly, account for 29% of China’s economic activity, far more than in many other countries. Slow housing growth could spread to other parts of the economy, affecting consumer spending and employment.
Government figures show that about 1.6 million acres of residential floor space were under construction at the end of last year. This was roughly equivalent to 21,000 towers with the floor area of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world.
Housing construction fell by 13.6% in August below its pre-pandemic level, as restrictions on borrowing were imposed last year, calculations by Oxford Economics show.
Local governments’ income from selling land to developers declined by 17.5% in August from a year earlier. Local governments, which are heavily indebted, rely on the sale of land for most of their revenue.
Another slowdown will also risk exposing banks to more bad loans. According to Moody’s Analytics, outstanding property loans—mainly mortgages, but also loans to developers—accounted for 27% of China’s total of $28.8 trillion in bank loans at the end of June.
As pressure on housing mounts, many research houses and banks have cut China’s growth outlook. Oxford Economics on Wednesday lowered its forecast for China’s third-quarter year-on-year GDP growth from 5% to 3.6%. It lowered its 2022 growth forecast for China from 5.8% to 5.4%.
As recently as the 1990s, most city residents in China lived in monotonous residences provided by state-owned employers. When market reforms began to transform the country and more people moved to cities, China needed a massive supply of high-quality apartments. Private developers stepped in.
Over the years, he added millions of new units to modern, streamlined high-rise buildings. In 2019, new homes made up more than three-quarters of home sales in China, less than 12% in the US, according to data cited by Chinese property broker Kei Holdings Inc. in a listing prospectus last year.
In the process, developers grew to be much bigger than anything seen in the US, the largest US home builder by revenue, DR Horton. Inc.,
Reported assets of $21.8 billion at the end of June. Evergrande had about $369 billion. Its assets included vast land reserves and 345,000 unsold parking spaces.
For most of the boom, developers were filling a need. In recent years, policymakers and economists began to worry that much of the market was driven by speculation.
Chinese households are prohibited from investing abroad, and domestic bank deposits provide low returns. Many people are wary of the country’s booming stock markets. So some have poured money into housing, in some cases buying three or four units without the intention of buying or renting them out.
As developers bought more places to build, land sales boosted the national growth figures. Dozens of entrepreneurs who founded growth companies are featured on the list of Chinese billionaires. Ten of the 16 soccer clubs of the Chinese Super League are wholly or partially owned by the developers.
Real-estate giants borrow not only from banks but also from shadow-banking organizations known as trust companies and individuals who invest their savings in investments called wealth-management products. Overseas, they became a mainstay of international junk-bond markets, offering juicy produce to snag deals.
A builder, Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd. , defaulted on its debt in 2015, was still able to borrow and later expand. Two years later it spent the equivalent of $2.1 billion to buy 25 land parcels, and $7.3 billion for land in 2020. This summer, Cassa sold $200 million of short-term bonds with a yield of 8.65%.
Neil Gough (11 June 2015). “Idle Home Builders Hold China’s Economy Back”. The New York Times. By some economists’ estimates, real estate and related industries account for more than 20 percent of China’s gross domestic product
It’s become a parlor game in Washington, on Wall Street, and in Silicon Valley to figure out where U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler stands on cryptocurrencies. Industry lobbyists tune in when he testifies before Congress. Lawyers parse his speeches. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. wealth advisers recently boasted in a research report about looking for clues in 29 hours of the Blockchain and Money course he developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
That’s an arduous but perhaps not novel undertaking, since videos of the classes have garnered millions of views online, something that amazes even Gensler. In his first extensive interview about the digital money craze, Gensler signaled that his deep interest in the subject doesn’t mean he’s simpatico with the hands-off oversight approach that many enthusiasts would like to see.
Policymakers have struggled with how to respond to the mostly unregulated $1.6 trillion market, which has seen explosive growth and wild price swings. Gensler is contemplating a robust oversight regime, centered on establishing safeguards for the millions of investors who’ve been stocking their portfolios with tokens. “While I’m neutral on the technology, even intrigued—I spent three years teaching it, leaning into it—I’m not neutral about investor protection,” says Gensler, who on Tuesday will give a speech about crypto at the Aspen Security Forum.
“If somebody wants to speculate, that’s their choice, but we have a role as a nation to protect those investors against fraud.” Gensler has asked Congress to pass a law that could give the agency the legal authority to monitor crypto exchanges, but he says the SEC’s powers are already broad. There’s been much discussion over the years about which kinds of digital assets fall under the SEC’s purview.
Some such as Bitcoin that act like currencies are considered commodities, not securities. But there are thousands of other coins, and Gensler believes most are unregistered securities that must comply with SEC rules. Broadly he noted that technology has sparked economic progress throughout human history, and he sees a similar boost from digital assets. That may only come, however, with strong and thoughtful regulation.
As an analogy, he says the automobile industry didn’t fully take off until governments laid out driving rules. Speed limits and traffic lights provided public safety but also helped cars become mainstream. “It’s only with bringing things inside—and sort of clearly within our public policy goals—that a technology has a chance of broader adoption,” he says.
Hester Peirce, a Republican commissioner on the SEC known for her advocacy of light-touch regulation of digital assets, says she’s eager to work with Gensler. “A lot people just want more clarity,” she says. “I come from a perspective that people should have the maximum freedom to engage in transactions they want to engage in voluntarily. Society needs to have that discussion about what is the right regulatory framework.”
Gensler didn’t give a timeline for any SEC action. He has a to-do list that includes 49 non-crypto policy reviews that could slow progress on cryptocurrencies. Many are high-profile and time-consuming efforts, like responding to the GameStop Corp. trading frenzy and the blow-up of the Archegos family office. The SEC is also working to impose new rules that would require companies to disclose carbon emissions and other environmental risks, a Biden administration priority.
Nor would Gensler comment on the potential for approving a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund, a decision that many in the crypto world are eagerly awaiting, because it would provide an easy on-ramp for investors. A Bitcoin ETF would invest in the cryptocurrency and then trade its shares on the stock market. So far the SEC has balked at permitting such funds, citing concerns about the risk of fraud and manipulation in the Bitcoin market.
Gensler has spoken positively about the ETFs during his days at MIT, giving advocates hope that he’s a supporter. Peirce says it’s “high time” the SEC approved a crypto ETF. Behind the scenes, Gensler has pushed the agency’s staff members to take a look at an array of potential policy changes. He says there are at least seven SEC initiatives looking at different crypto issues: initial coin offerings, trading venues, lending platforms, decentralized finance, stable value coins, custody, and ETFs and other coin funds. “I’ve asked the staff to use all of our authorities anywhere we can,” he says.
Gensler says he thinks regulating crypto exchanges is perhaps the easiest way for the government to get a quick handle on digital token trading. But he’s also concerned about new ways people are getting into crypto, such as peer-to-peer lending on so-called decentralized finance, or DeFi, platforms. If firms are advertising a specific interest-rate return on a crypto asset, Gensler says, that could bring the loans under SEC oversight. Platforms that pool digital assets could be seen as akin to mutual funds, potentially allowing the SEC to regulate them.
Gensler was chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) during the Obama administration, where he was responsible for bringing federal oversight to the huge market for derivatives known as swaps after the financial crisis. Patrick McCarty, who teaches a class on cryptocurrencies at Georgetown University’s law school, says Gensler’s understanding of digital assets means he will give the industry a “fair hearing,” though he will likely disappoint many proponents.
“When the crypto people say they want legal certainty, they don’t mean that—they want to be unregulated,” McCarty says. “That’s never been Gary’s point of view.” Christine Trent Parker, who focuses on crypto assets as a law partner at Reed Smith in New York, says that although new SEC rules would bring more certainty to the industry, they also could divide the policing of the market more starkly—with the CFTC focused on markets linked to virtual currencies such as Bitcoin and the SEC handling much of the rest.
“Right now the lines are fuzzy because we have speeches and enforcement and court orders,” instead of bright-line regulation, she says. “If the SEC has sort of a broad framework that pulls in all of the other digital assets, then you have this bifurcated marketplace.” Others have argued that new token developers need some regulatory flexibility to encourage innovation.
Gensler also sits on the Treasury-led Financial Stability Oversight Council and the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, which recently held a meeting on the impact of stablecoins. These are crypto tokens that are supposed to be backed by traditional currencies such as the U.S. dollar, and they’ve become a huge part of the crypto trading system. Regulators worry about what could happen if some stablecoin didn’t turn out to be worth what it was supposed to be—prompting an exodus akin to a run on a bank or a money-market fund.
Gensler’s views on the panels carry weight, people who follow the issue note, because unlike, say, the Treasury secretary or Federal Reserve chairman, he has real crypto cred. His understanding of blockchain and digital assets comes largely from the several years he spent at MIT. Along with creating the cryptocurrency course, he’s been a frequent guest at industry conferences—sometimes speaking 30 to 50 times a year—mixing with deep thinkers and entrepreneurs.
He quotes writings of Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, from memory and knew some of the core developers of the digital currency. The 63-year-old former Goldman Sachs partner traveled an unlikely path to becoming one of the government’s foremost cryptocurrency experts. It started in 2017, when as chief financial officer of Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign he had the lonely job of closing up shop, paying off the final bills, and deciding what to do with the abandoned computers and office supplies.
Like many of his shell-shocked former colleagues, Gensler was looking for something to do—and somewhere to sit out Donald Trump’s presidency. The answer came from economist Simon Johnson, an MIT professor who encouraged Gensler to come to Cambridge, Mass., and teach. Looking to nurture a long-held interest in the intersection of technology and finance, Gensler jumped at the opportunity.
Although he didn’t know much about digital tokens, he connected with people who were part of the university’s burgeoning Digital Currency Initiative and even audited a course in crypto programming. When he suggested MIT teach more about finance and digital money, he was given the job. Little did he know that in a few years he’d have a chance to put his academic studies to real-world use. “Life sometimes is a bit of serendipity,’’ he says.
Most folks love learning, regardless of whether or not school is “their thing.” Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the right teacher for your learning style—or maybe even the right medium. For auditory learners, podcasts can be excellent vehicles for processing knowledge that’d be less digestible in more visual mediums like video or even the written word.
The American education systems tends to fail students in myriad ways, requiring continual education after the fact to learn the truth behind what we were taught in history, art, science, language, literature, and math. Privileged gatekeepers deciding who and what gets taught can result in the denial of diverse voices and perspectives.
Podcasts radically shift the dynamics around who gets to teach, and who gets to learn. A lot of the most beloved and popular shows, like Radiolab and Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, basically boil down to what you wish your science or history class had been like in the first place. Many others, like 1619 and You’re Wrong About, aim to correct the misinformation in many accepted cultural narratives from both our near and distant pasts.
Now, obviously, podcasts can’t replace a world-class, bonafide, IRL, teacher-to-student relationship. But they can teach us more than a few vital lessons. Here are a few of our most educational favorites.
While Vox is known for explaining complicated ideas in easily understandable ways, it’s new podcast Unexplainable flips that premise on its head. Instead of demystifying the daily information onslaught, Unexplainable sits with the most mystifying unknowns of all time. From questioning whether everything we thought we knew about psychology is wrong to the quest to understand what the hell dark matter is, Unexplainable teaches us to get comfortable with the idea that human knowledge has many limits. And that’s kinda awesome.
2. You’re Wrong About
“You’re Wrong About is doing God’s work by correcting the record on everything we misremember or misunderstand in our collective cultural memory.Each week, journalists Sarah Marshall and Michael Hobbes debunk popular myths, misconceptions, and mischaracterizations of figures like Tonya Harding and Marie Antoinette, or topics like sex trafficking and events like the O.J. Simpson trial.” [From our Best Feminist Podcasts roundup.]
“As all-encompassing as it is powerfully specific and personal, 1619 is the story of modern America — and the people who built it through blood, sweat, tears, and hope. It’s a version of the story a great many of us never hear, purposefully kept hidden in the margins of U.S. history books. But 1619 isn’t just a podcast about the history of slavery as the genesis of almost every aspect of American society and culture today.
This isn’t just a sobering lesson, or hard pill to swallow. By weaving the historical with the personal and the poetic, Nikole Hannah-Jones (alongside other guest hosts) paints a viscerally captivating portrait of Black Americans’ lived experience, and all the simultaneous struggle, strength, oppression, ambition, pain, and humor needed to survive. 1619 is a story about race and the inequalities embedded into a system predicated on its conceit. But above all it’s a story about us, the people we were then and still are now.” [From ourroundup.]
4. Encyclopedia Womannica
“History class often paints a portrait of the world that excludes about half of its population. That’s what Wonder Media Network’s Encyclopedia Womannica sets out to fix, by releasing 5- to 10-minute episodes on women who made history in a certain field. Each month focuses on a different area of expertise, which most recently included activism and music.” [From our Best Feminist Podcasts roundup.]
5. You Are Not That Smart
There’s a kind of fallacy that comes with being knowledgable or well-educated: You can start to think you know everything. In reality, human knowledge is always flawed, a work in progress rather than an end goal in itself. That’s the backbone of this psychology podcast, which dives into the ways we think and why they’re often faulty or misunderstood.
6. 99% Invisible
Invisible forces increasingly rule our world, and this legacy podcast is determined to reveal exactly how and why. Host Roman Mars uncovers a different facet of the hidden world of design in every episode, whether it’s the user experience of an app on your phone or your entire home’s architecture.
“NPR’s Peabody-winning, textbook example of rich, expertly-produced documentary podcast-making was started by Jad Abumrad way back in 2002. Hosted by Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, Radiolab tasks itself broadly with ‘investigating a strange world.’ It’s constantly referred to in the same breath as their friends at , but tends toward the more science-related topics.” [From our Best Science Podcasts roundup.]
8. Every Little Thing
Like the teacher who encouraged you to ask all the questions, Gimlet’s Every Little Thing seeks to answer listeners’ questions about, well, everything. Whether it’s trying to determine if a listener’s very specific early childhood memory is real, or investigating why we cry, there’s no quest for understanding too small or too big for this podcast.
9. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History
Dan Carlin is the history teacher we all wish we’d had in grade school, able to turn the most fascinating and dramatic episodes of our past into multi-part epic sagas. Tuning into Hardcore History‘s three hour-long behemoth episodes transports your imagination. As informative as they are enthralling, each deep dive can transform what you thought you knew about both ancient and modern history.
10. Lolita Podcast
“The influence of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita can’t be overstated. From fashion to music to film to sexual expression itself, the novel’s impact on society far exceeds literary circles, affecting the mainstream in ways you may not even be aware of. You don’t need to have read Lolita — a cautionary tale about a predator grooming, kidnapping, and repeatedly raping a child — to be riveted by the podcast, which is more focused on tracing its ripple effects on the zeitgeist.
Comedian, podcaster, and writer Jamie Loftus wrestles with this tangled nexus of significance in a society that perpetually sexualizes young girls. Weaving in her own personal experiences and analysis with expert interviews and source materials, Loftus leaves no stone unturned — no matter how uncomfortable. Diving headfirst into a minefield of impossible yet crucial questions, Lolita Podcast delivers nuanced perspectives that only unfurl more layers of complexity rather than offering easy answers.” [From our Best Podcasts of 2020 roundup.]
11. Grammar Girl
Delving into the ins and outs of grammar can be pretty boring sometimes. (Apologies to our editors.) But this beloved show from host Mignon Fogarty brings a much-needed lack of judgment, accessibility, and fun to learning about the nitty-gritty of the English language. It’s an essential resource for writers of all sorts, diving into not only the rules but the historical and cultural contexts behind them.
“If you want to dig into the niches of study that professionals choose to dedicate their lives to, check out Ologies with science correspondent and humorist Alie Ward. Each episode, Ward takes on a different ‘ology,’ from conventional ones like and , to more niche ones like (the study of kissing).” [From our Best Science Podcasts roundup.]
13. Planet Money
“Planet Money’s success lies in how it tackles complex subjects with great storytelling. A financial instrument like a Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDO) may sound impossibly boring, but Planet Money routinely makes these types of things the heart of a thrilling narrative. The team continues to explore the financial collapse, but they’ve expanded their scope to include all aspects of the global economy.” [From our.]
Alternatively, try NPR’s Indicator: “Its more compact, daily sister podcast is a knockout. But for those a little less interested in talk of money stuff, NPR’s is a great gateway drug. Tackling smaller yet still robust and integral stories related to work, business, and the economy, you’ll be surprised by how much crucial information you can gain in just 10 minutes.” [From our.]
14. Hidden Brain
“NPR’s popular podcast hosted by social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam delves into the recesses of the human mind, and questions why the hell we do and think the things we do. Vedantam conducts excellent, well-researched interviews with experts on complex topics that are made simple to understand, and will have you really getting in your own head.” [From our Best Science Podcasts roundup.]
“No matter how much you think you know about Hurricane Katrina, Floodlines reveals how America has only reached the surface of reckoning with this deep national wound. Through interviews with survivors and reporting that addresses the media misinformation and government incompetence around the catastrophe, host Vann R. Newkirk II shows how the real storm that devastated New Orleans was the same one that’s been brewing in America for centuries.” [From our Best New Podcasts of 2020 roundup.]
16. The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos
“Happiness is a tricky goal, especially when we think about it in terms of things that will finally make us happier. But no ‘thing’ can make you happy except yourself, and achieving that state of mind takes daily work. That’s what Dr. Laurie Santos, who studied the science of happiness at Yale and has a doctorate in psychology, makes clear in her podcast tackling the wide range of questions about how to live a life with more joy in spite of, well, all of it. While many other podcasts tackle similar topics, Dr. Santos sets this one apart by taking them to panels of experts and researchers in psychology, behavioral science, and more.” [From our Best Self-Improvement Podcasts roundup.]
17. Nice White Parents
“Nice White Parents, released on July 30, is a five-part limited series from [Serial,] the team that redefined podcasting . Instead of complex true-crime cases, however, Nice White Parents puts a different criminal on trial: the white liberalism that has helped perpetuate the segregation of public schools in America for decades under the guise of progressive ideals. This American Life producer Chana Joffe-Walt tells the story through an on-the-ground investigation into the School for International Studies (SIS), a New York City public school that was predominantly serving students of color.
That is, until a flood of white parents who couldn’t get their kids into preferred white schools instead decided to enroll them there, causing it to become a battleground of racial tensions and inequalities. It’s a story that comes from a personal place for Joffe-Walt. She began reporting on it after shopping around for schools as a new parent herself, only to discover she was part of a larger history of white parents who have shaped our public school education system into what it is today — which is to say, a system that overwhelming and repeatedly fails students of color.” [From our .]
18. Philosophize This!
Philosophy, aka that insufferable elective you skipped each week in college, can get a bad rap for being elitist and impenetrable. But Stephen West makes Philosophize This! precisely for those who want to delve into the nuanced ideas of our great thinkers, only without all the BS. Meant to be consumed somewhat in chronological order, you’ll gain a working, buildable knowledge of everything from media theory studies to multiple theories of justice.
19. Making Gay History
“History isn’t often told through a gay lens and Making Gay History looks to change that, telling the stories of the people who fought for decades for LGBTQ civil rights. Many of them have largely gone uncelebrated — until now.” [From our Best History Podcast roundup.]
20. The Experiment
The American experiment, often repackaged as the American dream, is one of the biggest sources of miseducation in our country. In this WNYC Studios and Atlantic collaboration, host Julia Longoria applies the ideals of America’s past that were held to be self-evident, then measures them up against our current reality. Bringing the high ideals of this country’s founding to everyday experiences, The Experiment can even find lessons in trash reality TV shows like 90 Day Fiance.
Art history isn’t for everyone, but curator and art history student Jennifer Dasal is definitely the one who could spark your interest. With a distinct theme for every season, she brings what might otherwise be dry material to life by telling the strangest and most enthralling stories behind the art. Season 9, which is all about cursed art, feels especially right for the general vibe of the past several years.
“OK, first a disclaimer: Blowback is an unapologetically left-wing podcast. Like very left-wing. If that’s not cool with you, then it’s not the podcast for you. It tells the story of the Iraq War from that leftist point of view, and it’s both fascinating and necessary. Much of the Iraq War, as the American public knew it, was laundered through a right-wing government, and it was some time before anyone was open to admitting the disastrous war was just that. Blowback details how horrific and wrongheaded the Iraq War was, how its tentacles still shape America today, and how few consequences befell the people who sold it to the public.” [From our Best History Podcast roundup.]
23. Coffee Break Spanish (or other languages)
Not everyone vibes with language learning apps like Duolingo. Alternatively, what’s great about podcasts like Coffee Break from Radio Lingua Network is just how casual it feels — digestible enough to compliment your coffee break (as the name suggests). The lesson plans in each successive season increase in difficulty, with Season 1 being for true beginners. But the podcast really sings in its travel log episodes, applying those lessons to a conversational grasp of the language. There’s also versions in French, Italian, German, Chinese, and Swedish available too.
24. Curiosity Daily
“Curiosity Daily is kind of like the r/TodayILearned subreddit but in podcast form. Every weekday, you can learn something new from hosts Cody Gough, Ashley Hamer, and Natalia Reagan. They offer 10- to 15-minute summaries of interesting, research-backed news and facts relevant to our everyday lives from the science, psychology, and technology fields.” [From our.]
Let’s be real: many of us skipped the reading when we were in school, only to regret it later on. That’s why Spotify’s list of original audiobooks, some even voiced by A-list actors like Hilary Swank, is a great treasure trove of educational audio. Currently, it offers many of the classics for free, like Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and the memoir Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. They even have a separate podcast for unpacking the literature called Sitting with the Classics. You can check out the full collection here.
O’Bannon, B.; Lubke, J.; Beard, J.; Britt, V. (2011). “Using podcasts to replace lecture: Effects on student achievement”. Computers & Education. 57 (3): 1885–1892. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2011.04.001.
Warren, K (2011). “Utilising podcasts for learning and teaching: a review and ways forward for e-learning cultures”. Management in Education. 26 (2): 52–57.
McFadden, A. (2008). Podcasting and really simple syndication (rss). Unpublished manuscript, College of Human Environmental Sciences Institute for Interactive Technology, The University of Alabama, Alabama, mississippi.
Hill, Jennifer; Nelson, Amanda; France, Derek; Woodland, Wendy (2012). “Integrating Podcast Technology Effectively into Student Learning: A Reflexive Examination”. Journal of Geography in Higher Education. 36 (3): 437–454. doi:10.1080/03098265.2011.641171. S2CID144984248.
Kay, Robin H (1 May 2012). “Exploring the use of video podcasts in education: A comprehensive review of the literature”. Computers in Human Behavior. 28 (3): 820–831. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2012.01.011. ISSN0747-5632.
McFadden, A. (2008). Podcasting and really simple syndication (rss). Unpublished manuscript, College of Human Environmental Sciences Institute for Interative Technology, The University of Alabama, Alabama, mississippi.
Shamburg, C. (2009). Beyond podcasting:a paradigm shift. In Student-Powered Podcasting (pp. 4-12).
Shamburg, C. (2010). DIY podcasting in education. In Knobel, M & Lankshear, C. (Eds.), DIY Media: Sharing Creating and Learning with New Media (pp.51-75). New York: Peter Lang.
Chan, A.; Lee, M. J. “An MP3 a day keeps the worries away: Exploring the use of podcasting to address preconceptions and alleviate pre-class anxiety amongst undergraduate information technology students. In DHR Spennemann & L. Burr (Ed.), Good Practice in Practice: Proceedings of the Student Experience Conference (pp. 58-70). Wagga Wagga, NSW”. CiteSeerX10.1.1.115.1023.