In this Labor Day edition of “The Learning Curve,” Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Timothy Garton Ash, Professor of European Studies at the University of Oxford, Isaiah Berlin Professorial Fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford, and the author of The Polish Revolution: Solidarity. Professor Garton Ash shares insights on what both the public and students should know about Poland’s Solidarity movement, the first independent trade union (with 10 million members) behind the Iron Curtain, and its charismatic co-founder, Lech Walesa. They discuss the wide range of support for it, from U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, to peace campaigners and socialists, and how it helped topple Soviet communism. He explains Poland’s role during World War II as ground zero of the Holocaust, how Allied decisions at Yalta set the stage for the Cold War, and lessons that we should remember in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The interview concludes with a reading from his book.

Stories of the Week: Loan forgiveness programs and other issues surrounding higher education are already political – but could politicos push the envelope by imposing tuition caps or outcome-based funding, interfere with autonomy in hiring, or target affirmative action programs? A new initiative is tackling big, structural problems in K-12 education, developing tools that can help parents with more flexible learning options, greater equity, and access to postsecondary college and career opportunities.