Johns Hopkins’ Dr. David Steiner on Teaching Wisdom in Schools

This week on The Learning Curve, guest cohosts Charlie Chieppo and Alisha Searcy join Dr. David Steiner for a wide-ranging discussion about the importance of education as a means of transmitting enduring wisdom to young people. Dr. Steiner discusses differences in K-12 education between the U.S. and the U.K., explores how schools of education may be contributing to the decline of K-12 education, reflects on the politicization of U.S. history and civics education, and talks about what states, governors, and state legislatures can do to lead systemic academic improvements. Dr. Steiner concludes the interview with a reading from his new book A Nation at Thought: Restoring Wisdom in America’s Schools.

Stories of the Week

Charlie cited a recent Boston Globe story written on the 30th anniversary of the Massachusetts Education Reform Act, and noted that the state knows what works in education and ought to reapply the practices and lessons of that legislation; Alisha discussed a story in The Marshall Project about the restoration of Pell Grant eligibility to about 760,000 people who are currently in America’s jails.


David Steiner is Executive Director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy and Professor of Education at Johns Hopkins University. In 2020, he finished serving as a member of the Maryland State Board of Education and the Maryland Commission for Innovation and Excellence in Education. He currently serves on the board of the Relay Graduate School of Education. Most recently, he was appointed to the Practitioner Council at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. In 2009, Dr. Steiner was appointed Commissioner of Education for New York State, in 2005 as the Klara and Larry Silverstein Dean at the Hunter College School of Education, and in 2003 the Director of Education at the National Endowment for the Arts. Dr. Steiner consults regularly with the federal government, state education leaders, educational reform organizations, and universities. He has addressed audiences on both sides of the Atlantic, and authored books, book chapters, and more than fifty articles. His most recent book A Nation at Thought: Restoring Wisdom in America’s Schools was published in 2023. He holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from Balliol College, Oxford University, and a PhD in political science from Harvard University.