Human Restoration Project


56: Listen to Students (feat. Ayush Chopra, Cody Lees, & Meghan Kestner)

Ep. 56

In this podcast, we're focused on student voice: how to engage students, what it means to share power with students, and the possibilities that can occur when we truly let students speak.

It's obvious that this true, just a quick glance at the news and Greta Thunberg demonstrates how powerful young people can be if given the opportunities to be successful. Our job as educators to not hamper that motivation to learn and change the world, and help open up new experiences for students to be interested and engage in.

And it's just just Thunberg or Malala or any young person doing amazing things - it's small scale success and purpose as well. The more people we unite with their purpose, the better society we will build. Sometimes those purposes aren't global reaching, but building a happy, motivated world is a giant, yet legitimate goal we can reach. What else really matters in the end?

However, we all know that school is not a place where many students are engaged in this kind of work. Sure, there are pockets of teachers doing amazing things - and they're often doing these things in spite of the systems and structures they find themselves in. We need to engage students in conversation and take their ideas legitimately, leaving out judgment aside, to truly find ways to transform our classrooms and schools.


Ayush Chopra, a 17-year-old student out to change the world with his organization, SDGs for Children. Ayush has written Shaping a Fairer World with SDGs and Human Rights and hosts the podcast, Shaping a Fairer World.

Cody Lees, a recent high school graduate who was actively involved in leadership activities in school, who highlights his 3rd grade experience in “Action Club.”

Meghan Kestner, a special education educator and Upward Bound advisor whose students share their stories, and who reflects on the need for more human-focused approaches to the classroom.



More Episodes


80: Pandemic Pods, School Choice, and Combating Inequity w/ Dr. Jon Hale

Ep. 80
Today, Chris and I (Nick) are joined by John Hale, whose biography you will hear at the beginning of the interview. John was recently the guest of a Soho Forum debate on the topic of pandemic pods, which you heard excerpts of at the beginning of this episode and confined in its entirety on YouTube.Since the Human Restoration Project has primarily been focused on pedagogy and changing the structures of school, I wanted to have John on to talk more about the history and ramifications of education policy and help us unpack what's really going on in our current conversations about pandemic pods, voucher programs and the recently announced Bezos Academy. How can we simultaneously acknowledge that schools need to change while being critical advocates for the need for public institutions and employee unions? How have market oriented takes on so-called school choice actually subverted the original intent of independent and charter schools? It's a really interesting conversation and it was great to talk to John. I'm sure we'll have him on again to talk education policy, history and organization in the future.GUESTSDr. Joe Hale, professor of educational policy, organization, and leadership at the University of Illinois, Urban-Champaign, and author of the forthcoming book, "The Choice We Face" (working title)RESOURCESJeff Bezos is opening a tuition-free preschool for underserved children (CNN)Savage Inequalities by Jonathan KozolSmall Schools and ChoiceRevisited by Deborah MeierFURTHER LISTENINGAre ‘Pandemic Pods’ a Symptom of the Public School Monopoly? A Soho Forum Debate (YouTube)