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After teaching science in the rural heartland of our country for 11 years, I left the classroom. The students immediately asked, "Why?" Hollow Heartland attempts to answer this question, both for them and myself. 

The difficult decision to leave was in part the pandemic but mostly the completion of writing Malignant: a novel. The book concluded with a very Hollow sense of myself which persisted as the title of my journals. Soon, lifelong friends from The Heartland Collective reconnected with me first as a guest and then as the host of my own show The Delta podcast. Gradually, the pessimism of each section grew to include a suggested resolution to the personal concerns I had about science, education, parenting, and the planet. This appended Heartland to the existing title to create: Hollow Heartland.


Hollow Heartland reveals the intentional, politically motived erosion of our country's interior, both geographically and socially. Redefining the purpose of public education with a progressive approach, Hollow Heartland suggests ways to rescue: our hometowns from becoming ghost towns, our nation from becoming ruled by kings of sand, and our children from inheriting a planet and genome embedded with our irreversible irresponsibility. It all starts with empowering our students.


The argument is divided into six textbook-style units, including diagrams, divided into chapters and sections. Reimagining my last day in the classroom, a narrative captures my thoughts during the passing periods of that day. Hollow Heartland presents six polished classroom lectures that I never got to give my students on my last day.

- Nicholas Anthony Linke

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Graduation Speech

In 2022, the day I announced I was leaving the classroom, the class of 2023 asked me to return the following year to speak at their graduation.

I was humbled that despite my departure, they were requesting one last lecture.


This is that speech that provides a better preface to Hollow Heartland than any other I have written. 

- Nicholas Anthony Linke

Graduation Speech - Class of 23Nicholas Anthony Linke
00:00 / 14:38

"You might feel like your state is squeezing you, pushing you out completely. Some are leaving. More are talking about it.


As that happens, as folks leave, the heartland loses its heart. We are hollowed out, emptied from the inside leaving only the shell of our major cities as supermajority legislatures finally choke out all serious competition to their power. 


Pragmatism doesn’t pay like pure power can, and it doesn’t satisfy the ego like pure ideology can. But pragmatism does help society continue to progress."

- Adam Sommer, host of
The Heartland POD

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