Reimagine Learning

Victoria Pasquantonio visits Second Avenue

Victoria Pasquantonio is the education producer for PBS NewsHour and PBS NewsHour Extra, a robust teacher/student resource website.  We were lucky enough to have her as a guest on our Lunch & Learn Speaker Series. 

Second Avenue : What makes your perspective so unique?

Victoria Pasquantonio: I am a former history and English teacher so use those skills to inform my journalism. There is a lot of overlap between the fields of education and journalism. It is all about telling stories.

Second Avenue: Earlier in your career you were a fact checker. When fact-checking highly debated or partisan issues, did this influence how, or what sources you fact-checked with?

Victoria Pasquantonio: In terms of fact checking, I would go to AP and Reuters because they tend to have the basic and important facts of the story, and then I would probably go to the Washington Post and New York Times. The trickiest thing about fact checking is not just dates and names that if you get wrong, you get into big trouble. It is more about understanding the philosophy of the story. You need to get the whole ethos right.

Second Avenue: What permanent changes do you see happening in education as a result of COVID-19?

Victoria Pasquantonio:  I think a lot of schools are going to go online only. Schools will be there, of course, but not in concrete form. Scott Galloway’s article The Future of College  is worth the read. Follow us on NewsHour since we are going to be put reporting on this issue a lot! 

Second Avenue: How would you pivot your educator voice and student voice blogs about current events in the classroom because educators and students are not actually in the classroom?

Victoria Pasquantonio:  What makes NewsHour EXTRA blogs unique is that they are not about pedagogy or traditional content. They are focused on current events and delve into topics with relatable angles. As an example, “How Syria’s civil war affects your teaching in the classroom?” If you have Syrian refugees or other war-torn refugees in your classroom, or you are just a kid who cares about international issues, there is an important story to be told and connections to be made. I remember being in ninth grade as Bosnia was happening and wondered why my history teacher was not talking about it. Our blogs are about how current events and current issues affect life for you as a teacher or a student. They are not necessarily how to teach a lesson. We want to add depth to conversations. 

Second Avenue:   How has your background in teaching ancient and medieval history informed your writing about the influence of current events?

Victoria Pasquantonio: That’s really funny. So, I wish for this job, that I had taught more U.S. history or U.S. government and civics or even modern world history.  But I really did focus for 13 years, mainly on European and medieval societies. It has helped for example with stories about Islamophobia and the Muslim world and learning and appreciating other cultures. I think it helps me know how to talk about societies in a way that is thoughtful, sensitive, and intelligent.