What Do Stress, Surfing, And School Choice Have In Common?

Illustration: Aidan Wharton

This article originally appeared on Imbroglio. Imbroglio is a newsletter from The Branch about how we bring about the education revolution. Most of our posts will focus on the future of K-12 and higher education, but we’ll also cover the imbroglio itself — the politics, misdirection, the excuse-making, the mediocrity. Occasionally we’ll also meander into the general science of learning outside of the traditional education system.

They are all topics Lost Debate covered in the past week. Here’s a rundown of some education stories and segments you may have missed from around the Lost Debate network.

What Parents Want

Last week on the Lost Debate show, I spent an hour with Todd Rose, CEO of Populace. During the show’s first half, we discussed his team’s groundbreaking study on what he terms “collective illusions” – instances when people’s public and private views are out of sync. Rose convincingly argues that we’re self-censoring more than ever. We spent the second half of the interview on a separate multi-year study Populace conducted asking parents and the general public what they want from schools. Todd found that throughout the pandemic, the public’s desire for college prep in high school dropped. At the same time, their support of what they deem “practical skills” and personalized learning has risen. 

The End of Education Reform?

On yesterday’s episode of Regressives, I interviewed Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute about a provocative and informative piece he and Chester Finn wrote about the history and demise of education reform. The first half of the interview is a thorough retelling of how a bipartisan education policy coalition came together in the early 90s. Things get spicy in the second half of the interview, where we posit theories on why the coalition fell apart and what the future holds.

Is Stress Good?

On last week’s episode of Sweat the Technique, Ryan Hill and I interviewed Stanford Professor Dr. Kelly McGonigal about her book  The Upside of Stress. Before reading her book and talking to her, I believed stress could only be bad for you. But she changed my mind. McGonigal argues that stress is only bad for you if you believe it is. I know that sounds wacky, but listen to the interview. If it doesn’t convince you, she will challenge you. We also discuss the implications of this theory on the K-12 system.

Surfing As Teaching

On this week’s episode of Sweat the Technique, I interviewed Ru Hill, the founder of Surf Simply, which is widely viewed as the most successful surf school in the world (read more about the school here in the New York Times). Ru introduced me to surfing and helped me go from complete novice to fairly advanced-ish (we won’t be fact-checking that) in two years. We discuss how Ru does the seemingly impossible and how his approach to learning and coaching can serve as a model for people trying to learn anything. A related point: if you are a tax expert, kindly email me with some guidance on how many more of these interviews I must do before I can write off my trips to Costa Rica.

What Teacher Shortage?

On last week’s episode of our Spanish language podcast Pulso y Péndulo, hosts Carlos Curbelo and Fabiola Galindo debunk disinformation around teacher shortages.

Trouble in Tennessee?

On a recent episode of the Citizen Stewart Show, Chris Stewart and I unpack the controversy around the Hillsdale-linked charter school group trying to open many schools in Tennessee. I spill the tea on the local dynamics, including a potential split (imbroglio?) between MAGA school choice proponents and the more moderate and progressive charter supporters. Listen here.

Education Savings Accounts

What’s the country’s most important trend in K-12 education right now? Not ChatGPT and not CRT. It’s Education Savings Accounts. Rikki and I discussed this relatively new and growing method of school choice and what it means for kids, parents, politicians, and educators.

That’s all for now. Make sure to subscribe to our shows here. And if you like what you hear, please leave us a review.