16 Podcast Episodes to Inspire, Educate, and Entertain

As educators, it’s safe to say we are lovers of learning, and podcasts are a great way to fill our learning buckets. But given the wide variety of podcasts available, it can be difficult to identify those standout episodes that keep you thinking long after the playback has ended.

If you’re looking for something new to tune into on your daily walk, while grading papers, or folding laundry, look no further. The GOA team has curated a list of top-notch podcast episodes full of big ideas and lessons that will inspire, educate, and entertain.

cover photos from podcasts featured in this post

Education and Creativity

The Education Lost to the Pandemic,” brought to us by “The Daily” from The New York Times, features an interview with education reporter Dana Goldstein. Goldstein shares her take on what students didn't learn during the pandemic and the challenges they continue to face as the education system - and the world - recover from COVID.

Three Miles on This American Life” tells the story of kids from two schools. One school is public and in the country’s poorest congressional district. The other is private. They are three miles apart. The hope is that kids connect, but some of the public school kids just can’t get over the divide. The episode explores what happens when you see the other side, and it looks a lot better.

Freakonomics Radio brings us “Where Does Creativity Come From (and Why Do Schools Kill It Off?). The episode, part of a series titled “How to be Creative,” interviews an eclectic group of creatives, including Elvis Costello and Wynton Marsalis, about their early years and the experiences - in and out of the classroom - that shaped their creative lives.

Why Disorder May Be Good for Us” from NPR podcast Hidden Brain is the story of Keith Jarret, a broken piano and the accidental creation of the best-selling solo jazz album in history. Spoiler alert: being faced with chaos makes us more creative.

New View EDU’s episode featuring New York Times bestselling author Julie Lythcott-Haims looks at the role of schools in creating capable, responsible adults, not just high-stat students who achieve academically but struggle to “adult” beyond the classroom. Lythcott-Haims examines how true inclusion and care for every student make a stark difference in the educational landscape.

A Life in Balance

The Real Reason You Procrastinate” is an interesting look at why you procrastinate (and how to stop). Host and organizational psychologist Adam Grant interviews self-proclaimed master procrastinator Margaret Atwood.

The Longform Podcast interviews Samin Nosrat, author of “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking.” It’s a great conversation about how she learns, how she discovered her career, and how she approaches her work.

The Attention Graph” from Scott Galloway’s The Prof G Pod in an interview with Dr. Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas, the co-authors of “Humor, Seriously: why humor is a secret weapon in business and life.” They discuss their research, the four humor styles they’ve identified, and how to incorporate more levity into your workday.

Quit Overthinking Things” from Harvard Business Review’s IdeaCast features Ethan Kross, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan. Kross has spent years studying how people talk to themselves and the effect that this "chatter" has on our performance. From professional athletes to top students and senior executives, even the most talented among us sometimes struggle to quiet the voices in our heads. Kross offers tips and tricks to break out of negative thinking and get back on track, especially at work.

Cultivating Your Purpose” from Hidden Brain explains why purpose isn’t something to be found — it’s something we can develop from within. Cornell University psychologist Anthony Burrow helps us understand how having a sense of purpose can be a buffer against the challenges we all face at various stages of life — and can boost our health and longevity.

Ten Percent Happier is a series from author and journalist Dan Harris that features talks with eminent meditation teachers, top scientists, and even the odd celebrity. Harris covers subjects such as enlightenment and psychedelics and science-based techniques for dealing with anxiety, productivity, and relationships. Dan's approach is seemingly modest but secretly radical: happiness is a skill you can train, just like working your bicep in the gym. Your progress may be incremental at first, but like any good investment, it compounds over time.

The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish is a series that aims to master the best of what other people have already figured out. The show goes below the surface to root out the big ideas, timeless lessons, and robust principles that you can use to think better, perform better, and live better. While you can learn these lessons yourself, it’s much easier to learn the lessons that other people have already paid for.


41 Questions For The Technologies We Use, and That Use Us” is an Ezra Klein podcast that answers questions such as, “How do these technologies change the people who use them, both for good and for bad?” This question – and more like it – invite us to think not just about technologies, but about ourselves, and how we act and what we want, and what, in the end, we truly value.

Reply All is a podcast series that The Guardian calls “A podcast about the internet that is actually an unfailingly original exploration of modern life and how to survive it.”

Current Events

War, Famine, Pestilence, and Design” is brought to you by 99% Invisible. The episode explores the question, “In what ways will the COVID pandemic change cities long term?” While it’s hard to answer a question about the future while in a crisis, hosts Roman Mars and Kurt Kohlstedt look to and extrapolate from precedents such as designs born out of past disasters.

NPR podcast Code Switch is the fearless conversation about race that you've been waiting for. Hosted by journalists of color, the podcast tackles the subject of race with empathy and humor. Hosts explore how race affects every part of society – from politics and pop culture to history, food, and everything in between.

For more recommendations from the GOA Team, check out our Summer Playlist. What are you listening to right now for inspiration? Share with us on Twitter @GOALearning and #GOALearning.

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