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


102: Fight Back Against Debt w/ Debt Collective

Ep. 102
A conversation around student loan debt has been happening at the margins of American political life for nearly a generation. By 2012, total student loan debt in the United States surpassed one trillion dollars, with the only relief coming from a pause on interest and federal debt collection that began with the pandemic in March 2020. Today, a majority of Americans, nearly 60% of polled voters, support some kind of forgiveness on the nation’s now 1.7 trillion dollar student loan debt, and borrowers have benefited from the pause on payments, recently extended to May 2022. That’s over two years without a single required payment…and seemingly without a single negative economic consequence. A recent study from the Student Debt Crisis Center also found that nearly 90% of borrowers are not financially secure enough to resume payments.Is it time to pause these payments indefinitely? Is it past time for mass student loan debt forgiveness? While most of the conversations we have at HRP happen at the intersection of the theory and classroom practice of education, today I am joined by Thomas Gokey, Eleni Shirmer, and Jason Wozniak, as they talk to us about their organization, Debt Collective, make the moral, economic, and pedagogical case for debt cancellation, and let listeners know how to join their grassroots movement. GUESTSThomas Gokey, organizer and co-founder of Debt Collective, visual artist, adjunct professor at Syracuse University, and activistEleni Shirmer, researcher at the Future of Finance Initiative at UCLA's Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy, and organizer with Debt CollectiveJason Wozniak, assistant professor at Teacher's College, Columbia University, and author of the upcoming book, The Mis-Education of the Indebted StudentRESOURCES@StrikeDebt (Twitter)

101: Imagining Education Outside Capitalism w/ Dr. Nick Stock

Ep. 101
Today we are joined by Dr. Nick Stock. Dr. Stock, a former English teacher, now serves as a researcher for the University of Birmingham. He has published various essays which focus on critiquing education by using philosophy typically seen outside of traditional pedagogy, such as Evangelion, Schools and Futures; Education after the end of the world. How can education be considered a hyperobject?; and Paradise Shall Remain Lost. Readdressing Deschooling through a Miltonian Lens.Specifically, we invited Dr. Stock on to talk about his recently published work, The Weird, Eerie, Exit Pedagogy of Mark Fisher, which dives into the work of Fisher, who wrote Capitalist Realism, and connects it to pedagogy, something that it isn’t typically associated with.This podcast covers:"Exit Pedagogy", connecting Mark Fisher's capitalist theories (and to an extent, Baudrillard's theories) to education"Hauntology" and reimagining a world without capitalismCritiques of liberatory and critical pedagogy and their connection to capitalismWhat it means to apply exit pedagogy to the classroomGUESTSDr. Nick Stock, former English teacher and current researcher at the University of Birmingham, who focuses on an ironist perspective to education through postmodern, poststructural ideas.RESOURCESThe weird, eerie, exit pedagogy of Mark Fisher by Dr. Nick StockCapitalist Realism by Mark FisherUnpacking "Neoliberal" Schooling, Part 3: Progressive Education: Enter the Matrix by Chris McNutt