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Pulled Up Short

Author: Stanton Wortham

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This is a podcast that aims to create moments of being “pulled up short” -- experiences of surprise and curiosity when we encounter an idea, text, or experience that challenges our ways of thinking and deeply held assumptions about the world.Each episode features a different insight, with each one asking us to entertain the possibility of a different worldview and re-examine some of our presuppositions.
33 Episodes
Featuring Micah Lott (guest) with Stanton Wortham (host) and Daniel Groll (commentator)Science fiction books and movies help us to imagine what a utopian society may look like. Though many representations have been offered, one common theme is the absence of challenge and hardship. In this episode, Micah Lott considers why a “good” life might need some non-ideal conditions.
Featuring Amy Shuffelton (guest) with Stanton Wortham (host) and David Blustein (commentator)In schools and workplaces, people are often encouraged to be “good collaborators” or "team players." However, in this episode, Amy Shuffelton problematizes this virtuous skill to claim that collaboration can also be understood to describe a particular kind of treachery. Join Amy in considering how to reimagine the role of collaboration in our lives and communities.
With Kevin Gary (guest) with Stanton Wortham (host) and Jeffery Frank (commentator)"I'm bored" is a phrase often met with disdain from parents, teachers, and friends alike. It seems obvious that we should do our best to avoid boredom, instead working toward being engaged in school, staying curious in work, and seeking enjoyment in life. In this episode, Kevin Gary shortcircuits our negative associations with boredom to consider how boredom could instead lead to thriving and flourishing.
Featuring Douglas Yacek (guest) with Stanton Wortham (host) and Caitlin Bolton (commentator) Since the start of common schooling, indoctrination has remained a central concern. Today, cries of "liberal brainwashing" undergird moves toward incorporating Critical Race Theory into the curriculum, and people continue to worry about the undue influence of teachers' political opinions on students' own stances. However, Douglas Yacek pulls us up short in this episode to consider how indoctrination might actually be a central educational goal for teachers.
Featuring Richard Lerner (guest) with Stanton Wortham (host) and Carol Lee (commentator)We think we know a good deal about human development, based on our current research and measurement about people. There's an assumption that we measure "individuals" - a given person's standardized test scores, grades, sleep habits - but in reality, most of our research obscures the very individuality of a person. In this episode, Richard Lerner offers us a more holistic understanding how to better center the individual in research.
Featuring Michael Serazio (guest) with Stanton Wortham (host) and Chip Zuckerman (commentator)In an era where accusations of fake news run rampant, it might provide us with some comfort in knowing that we at least hold conscious control over choosing our media sources and what information we are critically consuming. In this episode, however, Michael Serazio desettles our assumptions by proposing that the medium is even more powerful than the content of the message itself.
Featuring Lauren Bialystok (guest) with Stanton Wortham (host) and Regina Bendix (commentator) Most of us have been inundated with the seemingly well-intentioned advice to "be authentic" or simply, to "be yourself." In this episode, Lauren Bialystok troubles this fascination with authenticity to ask, what does it really mean to be "true to ourselves"? And is authenticity really even possible? Tune in to consider why it might be misleading to strive toward our most authentic selves.
Featuring Eduardo Duarte (guest) with Samantha Ha DiMuzio (host) and Jessica Harless (commentator)Eduardo Duarte has often been labeled an "adrenaline junkie" by his friends given his interest in activities like mountain biking and skiing. However, this label raises some dominant assumptions about what activities and domains "count" as risky. Join us as we explore how we might expand our understanding of risk and be more open to experimentation in our every day experience.
Featuring Marina Bers (guest) with Stanton Wortham (host) and David Goodman (commentator)Coding is usually understood as a neutral tool that we use for practical purposes and to solve technical problems. However, in this episode, Marina Bers offers an alternative vision of coding as an ethical enterprise, which provides an opening to better contemplate our own humanity - our values, relationships, and understanding across differences.
Featuring Kieran Setiya (guest) with Stanton Wortham (host) and Gregory Fried (commentator)The conventional wisdom is that hope is a good thing. Hope is valorized, especially in the face of hardship and the many challenges of life. However, in this episode, Kieran Setiya offers us reasons why we ought to be skeptical of hope as a pacifying force, especially in comparison to the motivation elicited by other emotions like grief, rage, and fear. Tune in to consider how we might rehabilitate our understanding of hope.
Featuring Karin Nisenbaum (guest) with Stanton Wortham (host) and Scott Seider (commentator)Do you believe in fate? Whether you think everything happens for a reason or is completely up to chance, tune into this episode to reimagine the role of fate in our lives. Join Karin Nisenbaum as she offers an interpretation of character as a kind of destiny.
Featuring Kenneth Gergen (guest) with Stanton Wortham (host) and Samantha Ha DiMuzio (commentator)Usually, we envision ourselves as individuals who build relationships, comprise communities, and make our own decisions. In this episode, Ken Gergen troubles this notion of individualism and instead offers an alternative perspective based on relationality and coordination. What if relationships come before the individual? 
Featuring Andy Hargreaves (guest) with Stanton Wortham (host) and Allison Skerrett (commentator)In conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion, it is not uncommon to discuss differences along axes of race, gender, or sexual orientation. However, what about the pervasive impact of socioeconomic status? In this episode, Andy Hargreaves explores the strong influence of class and why it should not be excluded from our contemporary conversations.
Featuring Mark Freeman (guest) with Stanton Wortham (host) and Suzanne KirschnerThere is no doubt that dementia is a painful and heartbreaking disease. However, in accompanying his mother in her own experience with dementia, Mark Freeman comes to some unexpected insights about how dementia can sometimes be understood as more than just loss and deterioration.
Featuring William Damon (guest) with Stanton Wortham (host) and Howard Gardner (commentator)In conversations about human development, talk about purpose often centers on providing meaning to the present and guiding our future life trajectory. However, William Damon draws upon his own experience unpacking his family history as an example to consider how we can look backward to our past as a resource to create purposeful futures.
Featuring Constantine V. Nakassis (guest) with Stanton Wortham (host) and Michael Lempert (commentator). We often feel that there is a sharp distinction between the world of fiction and the "real world." For example, is there really any doubt that the Marvel superheroes are not real, that they only live in fictional representations? Costantine Nakassis, however, draws our attention to the unsettling, though common ways in which we blur the boundary between fact and fiction all the time. Join Constantine in exploring the boundary between reality and representation.
Featuring Marina McCoy (guest) with Stanton Wortham (host) and Alexandra Michel (commentator)We often turn to experts in our lives for all kinds of matters. It isn't uncommon, for example, to turn to surgeons for medical expertise or call upon expert testimonies in the court room. However, Marina McCoy argues that our commonsense understandings of expertise also pose major problems and expose us to undesirable outcomes.
Featuring Anna Stetsenko (guest) with Stanton Wortham (host) and Megan Laverty (commentator)It is far from a secret that contemporary schools aren't perfect, but should we really stop teaching students? In this episode, Anna Stetsenko offers us the provocation to stop teaching as we know it and radically reimagine a kind of teaching that might be better described as learning.
Featuring Matt DelSesto, David Sellers, and Allison Pyo (guests) with Stanton WorthamLarge walls and secure perimeters physically isolate prisons from the rest of society. This episode, however, draws on insights from the Boston College Inside-Out Program to explore how what happens within prison walls is often more connected to the rest of society than we might think. The program instructor and former participants discuss how their experiences related to ideas about perpetrators, victims, harm, and punishment blur the boundaries between life inside and outside of prisons.
Featuring Andrea Vicini (guest) with Stanton Wortham (host) and Kristina Wirtz (commentator)The possibility of extra-terrestrial or beyond human life is a common theme in popular culture. However, in this episode, Andrea Vicini asks us to seriously entertain what an encounter with the Other might help us learn about our own humanity. 
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