When you are a parent, it can be very challenging to stay intellectually active between getting children ready for school, driving them where they need to be, work, and … well that leaves very little time for anything else. Yet it is important, to me at least, that I still have time to stay intellectually active in fields outside of my specialization. For my own purposes, I have found that the expanding availability of downloadable audio is making this more and more possible.
In the mornings, I bring both of my children where they need to be, one of them to school and one to the house of the woman that she stays with during the week. I also pick up my oldest daughter from school in the afternoon. With that said, this leaves me with about 30 minutes in the car by myself, 15 to 20 minutes in the morning and 10 to 15 minutes in the afternoon. I have begun using this time to study subjects that I might otherwise not be able to.
For instance, I have a strong interest in Brain Science; However, I am a graduate student and a graduate instructor in a different field. So, I am not normally able to spend time reading about Brain Science. Yet I have begun using my time in the car to listen to audiobooks in this area. For instance, it is possible to download Scientific American Mind (Audible) and listen to it on my iPod. This allows me to "read" about one of my favorite subjects and stay intellectually active in that area while I am doing something that I would normally consider wasted time, ie driving.
Another good option is a set of courses called the Modern Scholar series. This series is made up of what are essentially college level courses (no credit though) on subjects ranging from History to Science to Religion. There are 14 lectures in each course with each lecture lasting about 30 minutes (ie the normal time I spend driving on a MWF). I have used these and they are excellent.
So, if you are like me and you have a bit of time in the car each day, why not use this time to stay intellectually active?