The Things They Taught Me (Ep. 104)
Our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast is called “The Things They Taught Me.” (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript here; it includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)
The episode grew out of our recent two-part podcast about the value of a college degree. (Part 1 is here, Part 2 here, and a related Q&A here.) The economists we interviewed argued that colleges generally turn out more productive and happier people, but none could explain exactly how that transformation happens.
So when Stephen Dubner recently had occasion to visit his alma mater, he rounded up three of his favorite professors to see if they could answer that question. In this episode, you’ll hear from Joe Murphy, a filmmaker and professor of media studies; Leon Lewis, an English and film professor; and Jim Winders, a cultural historian and musicologist. Winders talks about the very unpredictable art of teaching:
WINDERS: A classroom is a place where something is going to happen. And no matter how much the professor is prepared, no matter how receptive the student is, there’s no predicting what that’s going to be. And it always amazes me when a student will tell you years later, “I’ll never forget the day you said so-and-so.” You don’t remember saying that. But the student has remembered that and it has meant something to that person.
Plus, Dubner shares three life-changing lessons he learned in these professors’ classes, and asks if they remember them. Spoiler alert: they don’t.