U-Texas Prof. Lorraine Pangle on the Founding Fathers, Education, and Civics

This week on The Learning Curve, Cara and guest cohost Jonathan Greenberg discuss the legacy of the Founding Fathers and the future of civics education with Lorraine Pangle, professor of political philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. They discuss how Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and others were steeped in the classics and how ancient authors and thinkers, along with figures from the Enlightenment, helped shape America’s Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and our nation’s understanding of the role of public education as a wellspring of republican self-government. Prof. Pangle concludes with a reading from her book, The Learning of Liberty: The Educational Ideas of the American Founders.

Stories of the Week:

Cara discussed a story from Newschannel 6 in Wichita Falls, Texas, about Texas lawmakers pushing to expand school choice through an Education Savings Account program and the pushback from some Wichita Falls education officials who believe it amounts to taking taxpayer public funds for use by private schools. Jonathan discussed a column by Max Eden of the American Enterprise Institute in Newsweek that ascribes much of the credit for the recent gains in the school choice movement to—ironically—Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.


Lorraine Pangle is a professor of political philosophy in the Department of Government and co-director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas at the University of Texas at Austin. She studies and teaches ancient, early modern, and American political philosophy, with special interests in ethics, the philosophy of education, and problems of justice and moral responsibility. Her publications include Reason and Character: The Moral Foundations of Aristotelian Political Philosophy (2020), Virtue Is Knowledge: The Moral Foundations of Socratic Political Philosophy (2014), The Political Philosophy of Benjamin Franklin (2007), Aristotle and the Philosophy of Friendship (2003), and The Learning of Liberty: The Educational Ideas of the American Founders, co-authored with Thomas L. Pangle (1993). She has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Earhart Foundation. Pangle received her B.A. in history from Yale, a B.Ed. from the University of Toronto, and her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

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