Human Restoration Project


44: It All Orbits Purpose feat. Kendall Cotton Bronk, John Cagle, Skylar Primm, and Elizabeth Martin

Ep. 44

Frankly, I’m astonished by how little school systems spend on covering purpose in students’ lives. Where do they see themselves in 10, 20 years? We leave them to the “next step” (either lost and apathetic or in incredible amounts of debt) to figure it out for themselves. How do we go about creating a purposeful society? Is it possible for a teacher to actually make a change? And, in addition, what about our sense as educators in the classroom? What about our purpose?


Dr. Kendall Cotton Bronk, head of the Adolescent Morality Lab at Claremont Graduate School, Dr. Cotton Bronk is one of the founding/leading researchers surrounding youth purpose-finding.

Dr. John Cagle, a 27-year public education educator who currently serves as Assistant Principal at Jefferson County High School in Tennessee. His dissertation focused on relationship building and academic success.

Skylar Primm, an educator at High Marq Environmental Charter School in Montello, Wisconsin*, a fascinating small public charter school centered on interdisciplinary experiential learning, with a focus on the environment.

*This were mentioned incorrectly during the podcast, sorry!

Elizabeth Martin, an English teacher who recently ventured to a county school after years spent at a large urban district. She has started to document this shift on Medium.


More Episodes


119: The Gender Equation in Schools w/ Jason Ablin

Ep. 119
Gender is one of the most contentious topics in the United States today, conversations about gender in education have even been the targets of so-called “divisive concepts” laws in states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and Alabama. The Alabama “divisive concepts” law, for example, would ban any discussion in K12 schools around the idea that Alabama and the United States are “inherently racist or sexist: ” that anyone should be assigned bias “solely on the basis of their race, sex, or religion;” and that anyone should be asked to accept “a sense of guilt, complicity, or a need to work harder” because of their race or gender.However, schools are as much as any other social institution a place where our constructed biases, expressions, and expectations about the performance of gender, leadership, the perceived attributes of students, and our response to student behaviors deeply influence not only the academic outcomes of school but the lifelong outcomes of students themselves. The focus of my conversation today, The Gender Equation in Schools: How to Create Equity and Fairness for All Students, is not a book directed at the culture war’s so-called “divisive concepts”, but rather a book for educators and parents desiring a framework for understanding the gendered construction of schooling and its impacts as informed by experience, social science, and neuroscience alike.Joining me today is the book’s author, Jason Ablin. Jason Ablin has served as a teacher, department chair, principal, and head of school. He holds national certification in leadership coaching and mentoring from the National Association of School Principals and has been supporting and mentoring new leaders throughout the country for over ten years. At American Jewish University and in school-based teacher workshops, he trains teachers to create gender aware classrooms and has taught year-long courses to teams of educators in graduate level seminars regarding the relationship between cognitive neuroscience and education. He is also the founder and director of AJU’s Mentor Teacher Certification Program.GUESTSJason Ablin is a former teacher, department chair, principal, and head of school. He now works at the American Jewish University to train teachers on gender-aware classrooms, and is the founder and director of AJU's Mentor Teacher Certification Program.RESOURCESJason Ablin's TwitterAblin EducationThe Gender Equation in Schools by Jason Ablin

Bonus: Elevating the Conversation on NAEP Scores w/ John Warner

The results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, were released yesterday, September 1st, prompting a New York Times headline that read “The Pandemic Erased Two Decades of Progress in Math and Reading”, the 74 headline added “Two Decades of Growth WIPED OUT by Two years of Pandemic”. Peter Greene, an education policy watcher, called it NAEP Pearl Clutching Day. I myself had tweeted out “With the release of pandemic NAEP scores, we're about to have the worst cycle of education discourse imaginable”, and man did that ring true. Everyone was running to their corners to abolish teacher’s unions, attack remote & hybrid learning and mask mandates - just relitigating every pandemic issue imaginable - and the results brought out the usual resident experts in everything, like Matt Yglesias, who called the scores “A Short-term L for the left that was more supportive of closure”.While everyone online is jumping to conclusions, we thought it would be important to help provide some context, to step back and take inventory of the data, claims, headlines, and provide context and forecast next steps: what, if anything, could or should we do in response to this report? So I reached out to author and educator John Warner, whose intuition I tend to trust on this kind of thing. John is the author of several books, Why They Can’t Write, The Writer’s Practice and Sustainable. Resilient. Free.: The Future of Public Higher Education, released in 2020. Thanks John for taking the time to talk with me today. Let’s start with what the NAEP results say and what they mean, and then we’ll compare that to the headlines. So what do the results say and what should we make of them? Why does the framing matter? What context is missing? How could we meaningfully report on these results? What’s missing in the discourse?GUESTJohn Warner, author of Why They Can't Write, The Writer's Practice, and Sustainable. Resilient. Free: The Future of Public Higher Education. He serves on Human Restoration Project's Board of Directors.RESOURCESPodcast: Deciphering Learning Loss w/ Akil Bello Video: How do we measure learning loss, anyway?HRP's Learning Loss Handbook

118: PragerU & the Alt-Right Pipeline w/ Rob Dickinson & Tom Cowin

Ep. 118
On today’s podcast we’re talking about PragerU, the infamous and growing conservative nonprofit that’s probably best known for its YouTube channel with recent uploads like “Why I Sued My Daughter’s Woke School”, “What Kinds of Shows is PBS Making Now?”, and “Teachers are Training Marxist Revolutionaries.” Which on its face is quite a silly thing to talk about, but this channel receives billions of views each year and is a stronghold of conservative leaders and talking points.To help us make sense of PragerU, as well as understand what its goals and objectives are, we’re joined by Rob Dickinson and Tom Cowin from the University of Sussex. Rob and Tom both have backgrounds in international relations and global policy, and together founded FRAMES project in 2020 to analyze contemporary far-right propaganda in the US, with a specific focus on PragerU. This project is virtually the first of its kind, with essentially no coverage of PragerU in academic circles.This podcast dives into the methodology and role of PragerU in the education sphere, offering educators reasons why they should care, why they need to be informed, and what actions they can take to stop PragerU from propagandizing students/other educators.GUESTSRob Dickinson, leads the African Cabinet and Political Elite Data project, working with the Scaling-up Packages of Interventions for Cardiovascular disease prevention in selected sites in Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa (SPICES) project, and researches how the Trump Administration may fit into historical patterns of neoliberalism as a candidate for a PhD in International Relations at the University of Sussex.Tom Cowin, delivers undergraduate teaching in International Relations, International Political Economy, and Globalisation and Global Governance at the University of Sussex. He previously held the position Doctoral Tutor Representative for IR, sits on the Management Committee for the weekly PGR-led Chapter Chats sessions and is a Postgraduate Researcher Representative for Sussex UCU.Both Rob and Tom are co-founders of the FRAMES project to study far-right propaganda in the United States, with a specific focus on PragerU.RESOURCESThe Alt-Education Pipeline: PragerU (Writing)Alt-Right Pipeline 2: Electric PragerU (YouTube, Zoe Bee)