Education

Teachers can learn a lot from students, and a new podcast called What My Students Taught Me is exploring those lessons. In the most recent episode, journalist Sarah Carr came to Louisville to interview Ashley Lamb-Sinclair, who used to teach at North Oldham High School. Carr also spoke with a student who gave Lamb-Sinclair a lot of trouble back in 2012: Connor Cummings.

During the first few weeks that Lamb-Sinclair taught 15-year-old Connor’s sophomore English class, the two of them had a great rapport.

But their relationship changed dramatically a few months later, when Lamb-Sinclair returned from maternity leave. It was 2012, an election year, and the teacher started getting pushback from some students at North Oldham High School, located in a suburb of Louisville, about her liberal leanings.

Connor was a ringleader of the resistance. On one memorable occasion, he erupted during a heated class discussion, shouting something along the lines of, “Liberals like you are ruining the country.”

All of Lamb-Sinclair’s efforts to talk through differences with Connor that year proved in vain.

It wasn’t until years had passed that the two of them had a frank discussion about what had transpired in the classroom that spring. And Lamb-Sinclair learned that, for Connor, the outbursts and rage were about far more than politics.

Listen in the audio player above, or click here.

This is the sixth installment in an audio series called What My Students Taught Me. Each episode features a teacher reflecting on a particularly challenging student, in counterpoint with the student’s version of the same events. The podcast is available on iTunes or biweekly at the Atlantic