Sheldon Novick on Henry James, American Women, & Gilded-Age Fiction

Mr. Novick discusses the complexities of Henry James’ life and writing career, highlighting his significant literary contributions, the influence of his family's intellectual legacy, and the realistic portrayal of social tensions in his works. Novick explores Henry James’ life experiences that shaped his novels like The Portrait of a Lady and The Golden Bowl. 

USAF Academy’s Jeanne Heidler on Henry Clay & Congressional Statesmanship

Dr. Heidler discusses Henry Clay's legacy as a seminal figure in American history. She covers Clay's early life, his transformation from a Virginia farm boy to a leading statesman, and his being mentored in the law by Founding Father, George Wythe.

Kimberly Steadman of Edward Brooke on Boston’s Charter School Sector

Steadman reflects on her educational background and leadership in urban charter public schools. She discusses the importance of rigorous academic expectations for K-12 students, and how this outlook influences her educational philosophy co-directing the Brooke charter school network. Ms. Steadman shares the challenges faced by Massachusetts charters due to the post-2016 ballot loss, and how she and other charter public school leaders advance supportive policy reforms.

Cheryl Brown Henderson on the 70th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education

Cheryl Brown Henderson, daughter of the lead plaintiff in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education, explores her family's pivotal role in the Brown case, detailing her father’s part within the NAACP's wider legal strategy.

POLITICO’s Peter Canellos on Justice John Marshall Harlan & Plessy v. Ferguson

Mr. Canellos delves into Harlan's upbringing in a prominent slaveholding family, his Civil War service in the Union Army, and his rapid rise in Kentucky politics as a Republican. He highlights John Harlan’s mixed-race half-brother Robert Harlan and key legal precedents like the notorious Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), which influenced Harlan's views on race and equality. 

Colonel Peter Hayden on U.S. Cyber Command & National Security

General Counsel of U.S. Cyber Command, Colonel Pete Hayden, shares insights about growing up in western Massachusetts, attending law school, his military service, and emphasizes the legal aspects of his national security work. Col. Hayden discusses Cyber Command's mission, distinguishing it from the NSA, while stressing the importance of defending the nation in cyberspace.

Hoover at Stanford’s Stephen Kotkin on Stalin’s Tyranny, WWII, & the Cold War

Dr. Stephen Kotkin explores Stalin's origins, consolidation of power, and his Communist despotism. Kotkin delves into Stalin's cunning political maneuvers, his complex relationships with other Soviet leaders like Lenin and Trotsky, and the devastating consequences of his regime, including the forced collectivization and mass starvation of millions.

Johns Hopkins’ Ashley Berner on Educational Pluralism & Democracy

Johns Hopkins’ Institute for Education Policy director, Dr. Ashley Berner discusses educational pluralism's role in improving K-12 performance, exploring European models and the impact of U.S. school choice programs. Dr. Berner analyzes universal ESAs and vocational-technical schooling, addressing persistent academic struggles and civic knowledge gaps.

39th U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky for National Poetry Month

 Boston University professor, Robert Pinsky discusses his memoir Jersey Breaks: Becoming an American Poet; the enduring influence of sacred texts like the Psalms; and the wide cultural significance of classic poets like Homer and Shakespeare.

U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Hilary Crow on K-12 Civics Education

U.S. Chamber Foundation VP, Hilary Crow discusses the state of K-12 civics, emphasizing the Chamber Foundation’s role in addressing America’s wide civic education deficits. Crow highlights a recent national civics survey, alarming civic literacy gaps, and links between political unrest and our nation’s educational shortcomings in K-12 civics.

UCLA’s Ronald Mellor on Tacitus, Roman Emperors, & Despotism

Dr. Mellor delves into the enduring influence of Tacitus, the great Roman historian, on both America’s Founding Fathers and contemporary understanding of politics and government. He discusses Tacitus's insights on the early Roman emperors, unchecked authority, moral judgment of leadership, and the decline of the Roman Republic, as well as ancient lessons for modern governance.

Tufts Prof. Elizabeth Setren on METCO’s Proven Results

Prof. Setren discusses her recent study of METCO, a pioneering voluntary school desegregation program under which Massachusetts students in Boston and Springfield are bused to surrounding suburban districts. She discusses METCO's history, the academic performance of students in the program, enrollment challenges, long-term benefits, and disparities among students.

Pulitzer Winner Joan Hedrick on Harriet Beecher Stowe & Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Prof. Hedrick discusses Harriet Beecher Stowe's wide literary influence on U.S. history. From her abolitionist activism to the publication of international bestseller Uncle Tom's Cabin, they explore Stowe's New England upbringing, anti-slavery convictions, and lasting impact on American literature and social reform in the 19th century.

Dr. Adrian Mims on The Calculus Project & STEM

Dr. Mims navigates through the contentious "math wars" and underscores the pivotal role of Algebra I as a gateway to higher math. He also evaluates the negative impact of Common Core math standards, and proposes strategies to combat pandemic-induced learning setbacks and bridge the gap in math proficiency between American students and their international counterparts.

Yale University Pulitzer Winner Beverly Gage on J. Edgar Hoover & the FBI

Yale Prof. Beverly Gage, author of "G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American," delves into the enigmatic life and career of J. Edgar Hoover, tracing his formative years in Washington, D.C., his rise to prominence as director of the FBI, and his enduring influence on American law enforcement and politics.

UK U-Warwick’s Benjamin Smith on Mexico’s Cartels & Drug Trade

Prof. Benjamin Smith, author of The Dope: The Real History of the Mexican Drug Trade, provides insights into various aspects of the Mexican drug trade, including its historical context and the evolution of illicit drug products over time. He discusses key cartels and their methods, the impact of the drug trade on Mexico's murder rates, the immense financial scale of the trade, its effect on Mexico and the U.S., and the challenges law enforcement face in combating it. Smith explores the relationship among Mexican cartels, other foreign countries, and the illicit drug market in the U.S.

DFER-MA’s Mary Tamer on MCAS & Teacher Strikes

Mary Tamer focuses on the historic impact of the 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act on the commonwealth’s students’ high achievement on national and international measures. She explores the politics of the Massachusetts Teachers Association advocating against the MCAS test as a graduation requirement. In closing, Ms. Tamer also discusses the rise of teacher strikes and their implications for education reform in the Bay State.

U-TN’s Robert Norrell on Booker T. Washington & Voc-Tech

Prof. Robert Norrell explores Booker T. Washington's early life in slavery, his transformative leadership at Tuskegee Institute amidst Jim Crow racism, and his advocacy for vocational education as a means for racial uplift. He also discusses Washington’s 1901 autobiography, Up From Slavery; his controversial White House dinner with President Theodore Roosevelt; and his often overlooked legacy following the activism of the 1960s Civil Rights era.

BC’s Dr. Matthias von Davier on TIMSS & K-12 Global STEM

Dr. von Davier explores his educational background and its influence on directing TIMSS & PIRLS, shedding light on psychometrics and standardized testing. He discusses the shift in education policy's focus, the global education data landscape, and the pandemic's effects on K-12 education around the world. Dr. von Davier addresses the alarming decline in U.S. educational performance, emphasizing the urgency to bridge achievement gaps. Drawing from international experiences, he highlights global examples for American policymakers from higher-performing countries, emphasizing the crucial links between education, skills, and innovation on the global economy.

ExcelinEd’s Dr. Cara Candal on National School Choice Week

Dr. Candal delves into the evolving landscape of K-12 education in the U.S., examining the expansion of private school choice programs post- U.S. Supreme Court decisions, changing political dynamics around charter schools, strategies of the national school choice movement in low-performing states, the role of parent-driven models during the pandemic, the significance of voc-tech education, and addressing underperformance and achievement gaps.

NYT Bestseller Jonathan Eig on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jonathan Eig delves into MLK's early spiritual leadership, the influence of Langston Hughes on his speeches, his relationship with his wife, Coretta Scott King, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's challenges. He discusses historic events in Birmingham, Alabama, the March on Washington, MLK's struggles in Chicago, the Poor People's Campaign, and the events leading to his assassination in 1968. Eig underscores the multifaceted aspects of MLK's life and provides insights on drawing lessons for contemporary challenges in race relations and leadership.

Olympic Track Medalist Gabby Thomas

Gabby Thomas, Pioneer Valley native, Harvard alum in neurobiology, and Olympic sprinter, won bronze and silver in Tokyo, she also pursued a master's in epidemiology. She shares her journey excelling both in academics and athletics.

T.J. Stiles on Cornelius Vanderbilt & American Business

T.J. Stiles delves into the life of America’s first tycoon, Cornelius Vanderbilt, exploring his rise to historic wealth in steamboats, shipping, and railroads. He discusses Vanderbilt's legal battles, philanthropy, and enduring legacy, exploring his business competitiveness and wide impact on 19th-century America’s economy.

Carol Zaleski on The Lord of the Rings & Narnia

Prof. Carol Zaleski discusses the literary impact of the Inklings, focusing on J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, exploring their lives, works, and enduring moral contributions in today's cultural landscape.

Emily Hanford on Reading Science & K-12 Literacy

Emily Hanford, host of the hit podcast Sold a Story: How Teaching Kids to Read Went So Wrong, discusses the science of reading, the long whole language v. phonics debate, the impact of the digital age on learning, and the importance of academic background knowledge for children becoming better readers.

Francine Klagsbrun on Golda Meir’s Leadership and the State of Israel

This week on The Learning Curve, Francine Klagsbrun, author of "Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel," discusses the remarkable life and legacy of the woman who left Kiev as a child, grew up in Milwaukee, emigrated to Mandatory Palestine, was a signatory to the declaration of independence for the state of Israel, and rose to become that nation's fourth prime minister.

Hillsdale’s Dr. Kathleen O’Toole on K-12 Classical Education

Dr. O'Toole explores Hillsdale's mission and its impact on K-12 education, delving into classical education, Greco-Roman ideals, Enlightenment principles, and the college’s efforts to enhance education. She discusses the challenges faced in exporting Hillsdale's model to K-12 public schooling, critiques of American education, and the role of the liberal arts in fostering academic unity amidst societal divisions.

National Alliance’s Nina Rees on Charter Public Schools in America

Prof. Albert Cheng and Charlie Chieppo interview Nina Rees from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools on policy gains, charter school growth, challenges, debates, federal spending, and academic recommendations.

Harvard Prof. Leo Damrosch on Jonathan Swift & Gulliver’s Travels

Harvard Prof. Leo Damrosch discusses Jonathan Swift's satirical genius, political critiques, and literary legacy. He emphasizes Swift's wit, insights, and commitment to liberty, and closes the interview with a reading from his book, Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World.