Podcast Episodes

Hess Image from YT

Is it appropriate – even a good thing in this time of intense political division -- for social studies teachers to bring politics, current events, and highly controversial issues into the classroom?  

Diana Hess is a former social studies teacher, now Dean of the College of Education at the University of Wisconsin, and a nationally recognized expert on civic education. Drawing upon extensive research on classroom practices, she argues that in a…

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Story added: 2021-10-12
Fremont Image

A junior high school teacher, her school principal, and a teacher educator weigh in on critical questions about history and civics education in the era of fake news, social media, and heightened political pressure. 

  • What does high-quality history and civics education for younger students look like and how can it help protect our democracy?
  • Why should teachers promote civic mindedness and not just facts about how government…
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Story added: 2021-10-11
Fake news and Hoaxes Image

The explosion of fake news, "hoaxes," and social media make it increasingly difficult for students to tell the difference between fact and fiction. And today's students, like the rest of us, can easily fall victim to "motivated reasoning" -- the tendency to believe what they want to believe, not what the evidence points to.

The educators in this episode discuss the challenges this poses for educators and for our democracy. They also recommend…

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Story added: 2021-09-28
Funding Panel Image

Panelists on this episode argue that inadequate and inequitable funding of our public schools pose a dire threat to American democracy. That's because students in under-resourced schools, those who tend to be poor and people of color, are less able to participate in the democratic process. Panelist Derek Black, author of Schoolhouse Burning: Public Education and The Assault on American Democracy, claims the assault by those who want to dismantle public education…

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Story added: 2021-09-20
Geoff Prentiss Image

Geoff Prentiss attributes much of his success as an architect to his "enigmatic" college professor of design, Leslie Laskey, with whom he stayed connected for nearly 50 years. "Frightening" is how Prentiss described his first class with Laskey, but he was intimidating because "he wanted you to be open to things you didn't know."

"He was a great teacher," Prentiss says, "because he focused on the the big picture, which is about awareness and perception…

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Story added: 2021-08-31
Texas TS image

In June 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill (HB 3979) that restricts what teachers can do in public school classrooms. 

  • Teachers can no longer be required to participate in training about race or sex stereotyping.
  • Teachers can longer promote the idea that racism or sexism in America is, or has ever been, systemic. 
  • It requires teachers who discuss current events to “explore the topic from contending…
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Story added: 2021-08-25
Civic Engagement Image

Three civic education experts -- Joseph Kahne, Alejandra Frausto, and Eve Vankley express their concerns about the current state of American democracy and explain how real-world civic engagement in schools prepares young people, regardless of their political orientation, to work together in finding the common good and to participate meaningfully in democratic life. 

They also address efforts by some public officials to limit civic engagement and…

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Story added: 2021-08-19
Berkowitz and Bell Image

This episode is part of our series on what schools can do to help save our democracy. Guests include Dr. Marvin W. Berkowitz, McDonnell Professor of Character Education at the Center for Character Education and Citizenship at the University of Missouri at St. Louis; and Dr. Kashina Bell, Deputy Superintendent for the School District of University City in St. Louis, Missouri. Both talk about character education -- what it looks like, how it's done, and…

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Story added: 2021-07-25
Bruce Stewart Picture

Bruce Stewart is a life-long educator who dedicated his career to social justice and high-quality education for all. As a history teacher and guidance counselor at Walter Hines Page Senior High School in Greensboro, North Carolina, he led the effort to desegregate the school 1963. Stewart became a Quaker educator and later served as Head of School at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. from 1998 to 2009. 

In this episode, Jennifer Futernick, a…

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Story added: 2021-06-20
David Berliner Image

David Berliner, one of this country's preeminent education scholars, tells the story of a teacher named Jennifer, whose classroom he visited many years ago. "I like visiting classrooms," Berliner says, "in part because they are so difficult to understand. It is an enormous intellectual challenge to make sense of teachers and students with curriculum materials in a classroom setting...[Observing teachers] is a bit like trying to study what comes out the end of a funnel–…

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Story added: 2021-05-10
Peter at White House

Peter Boykin, a history teacher in Detroit, Michigan, recounts the amazing story of his great-great grandfather named Johnson Chestnut Whittaker who was born into slavery in 1858 and was the subject of a book and TV movie titled, Assault at West Point. Whittaker would later become a teacher and a principal, which inspired Boykin to become an educator himself over a century later. 

Takia Maxxwell, one of Boykin's former students, also pays tribute…

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Story added: 2021-05-06
Teach Plus Image

Three of America's finest teachers -- Justin Johnson from Illinois, Eric Hale from Texas, and Juliana Urtubey from Nevada -- were selected to represent their respective states as Teachers of the Year, in part because of their extraordinary influence as teacher leaders. Each one is also a policy fellow for Teach Plus, an organization that empowers teachers to take on leadership roles with education policy and practice. Teach Plus…

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Story added: 2021-04-30
Dino Luna Picture

Dino Luna was about to become a pilot but switched careers after accidentally falling in love with teaching. Now a veteran educator, Luna reflects on what it takes to be of service to his colleagues as an instructional coach. He also shares a touching story about a former 5th grade student who took time, years later, to tell him about the profound effect he had on her life. Turns out it was just a few kind words of encouragement. "You never know what simple thing you…

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Story added: 2021-04-27
Malik Boykin Image

Malik Boykin (aka Malik Starx) is an accomplished musician and a professor of psychology at Brown University where he teaches a course on stigma and prejudice. Boykin shares two transformational teacher stories--the first from second grade when he was sent to the principal's office for raising questions…

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Story added: 2021-03-25
Perri Klass

When 4th grade teacher Miriam Marecek turned down the lights and lit the reading candle, magic happened. Pediatrician and journalist Perri Klass describes what it was like being one of Ms. Marecek's students and the impact it's had on her life and professional career. Now, as national medical director for Reach Out and Read, Dr. Klass, promotes reading aloud together starting at birth.

In this episode she…

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Story added: 2021-03-05
Insurrection Teacher Image

Like most Americans, these three veteran teachers were horrified as they learned about the insurrection at the nation's Capitol on January 6th, 2021. But each of them had to decide how to address this highly controversial topic with their students. What's the proper role for a teacher with an event like this? What if some students' parents or the students themselves supported the insurrection? Is there any way to talk about this and other controversial topics with very…

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Story added: 2021-03-03
Sean Bui Picture

After practicing law for several years, Sean Bui, the son of Vietnamese and Filipino immigrants, suddenly realized that he didn't love his job. What he really wanted to be was a teacher and to make a difference in young people's lives. But this career shift presented a daunting challenge. Growing up, Mr. Bui's parents and grandparents had only endorsed three career paths -- medicine, engineering, and law.  And now, after successfully following one of them, he wanted to…

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Story added: 2021-01-19
Brandt and Osorio

Until one of his former students, Daniel Osorio, nominated him as Teacher of the Year, Marty Brandt considered himself "just another guy" -- a high school English teacher who would never become the educator he hoped he would become when he entered the profession.

Daniel recounts the time when Mr. Brandt had asked his students to write their own ending -- any ending they wanted -- to The Great Gatsby.  "I had never been engaged like that before,"…

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Story added: 2021-01-19