Reporter Laura Beil tells the story of a kid named Kenneth Williams and an adult named Ton'Nea Williams (who share a last name but are not related).
Ira Glass speaks with a woman named Angie, who never understood why her dad got so excited about thermoses and phone books... until she happened to see this one movie. Then Jonathan Goldstein tells a story about his friend Josh Karpati, who has two-year-old twins, and who never leaves the house. Jonathan hosts Wiretap on CBC Radio.
Ira tells what happened this week to Dan Curry in Odessa Texas on Wednesday, to eight-year-old Ruby Melman on Sunday in New Jersey, to Beau O'Reilly at a bike store in Chicago on Saturday, to Theodosha Alexander at the World Trade Center site on Thursday, to Dr. Wade Gordon in Afghanistan on Thursday, to a high school class at the Grand Canyon on Wednesday, and at a bar in New York City on Saturday.
On Saturday, Laura Hucke graduated from the University of Florida in Gainesville.
Ira Glass plays clips from a documentary film called Please Vote for Me, by Weijun Chen. It follows a third grade class in central China in the very first election they've ever had or witnessed.
Reporter Starlee Kine observes what would have happened if the U.S.-led invasion of Grenada in 1983 had been decided not by Ronald Reagan, but by a bunch of middle schoolers...and she remembers a class trip to the Nixon library, where Nixon aide HR Haldeman spoke.
As adults battle over how climate change should be taught in school, we try an experiment. We ask Dr Roberta Johnson, the Executive Director of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, who helps develop curricula on climate change, to present the best evidence there is to a high school skeptic, a freshman named Erin Gustafson.
Jyllian Gunther visits The Brooklyn Free School, where there are no courses, no tests and no homework, and where the kids decide everything about how the school is run, including discipline. Jyllian is a filmmaker, working on a documentary called Growing Small.
Ira Glass plays Christmas jokes told by third graders, collected by producer Jonathan Menjivar. It turns out there really aren't many holiday jokes (although see our blog post for more), but kids are happy to invent them.
James Spring had hit his late 30s, and found his life utterly unremarkable. He needed to do something big.
Two short ideas that didn't work out so well as full stories.
Ira with teachers Shraddha Subramaniam and Samantha Cato, and their 2010 predictions for their sixth grade students at Intermediate School 303 in the Bronx, especially a student named Lewis de la Cruz.
In this act, kids from the after-school literacy program "826" in Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Chicago and Ann Arbor read letters they wrote to Barack Obama. The letters are part of a book the kids published, called Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country.
Karen Sosnoski's one-year-old son, Anton, was born with what's known as Mosaic Down Syndrome, a rare condition where some of his cells have the extra chromosome that causes Down syndrome and other cells don't. So as he grows, he could end up having all the health risks and challenges of Down syndrome...or just a few of them.
Host Ira Glass introduces a story on the most ambitious and hopeful solution to urban poverty in the country—the Harlem Children's Zone. The project's goal is nothing less than changing the lives of thousands of children in Harlem, starting at birth and continuing until they go to college.
Paul Tough reports on the Harlem Children's Zone, and its CEO and president, Geoffrey Canada. Among the project's many facets is Baby College, an 8-week program where young parents and parents-to-be learn how to help their children get the education they need to be successful.
Elna Baker reads her story about the time she worked at the giant toy store, FAO Schwartz. Her job was to sell these lifelike "newborns" which were displayed in a "nursery" inside the store.
When Sarah was 10 years old, she got a heart transplant. Soon after, her mother decided to find out more about the person who saved her daughter's life.
Host Ira Glass asks fifth-grade kids to explain what adults do wrong when talking to children.
Sean O'Connor and Nick Maritato are professional comedians, and their job usually involves saying things that kids aren't supposed to hear. But last summer they got booked on a tour of kids' summer camps. TAL producer Jane Feltes tells us what happened.
Eight-year-old Betsy Walter goes on a campaign to understand her parents' divorce.
This American Life regular contributor Davy Rothbart talks about the time a friend asked him to make a decision for her that she really had to make for herself: Whether she should have an abortion. Davy is the founder and publisher of Found Magazine and author of a book of short stories, The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas.
Psychologist Harry Harlow sets out to prove, through a series of experiments with monkeys, that love is a key to normal development in children.
A husband and wife face a decision about their autistic son's future, and whether he should continue to live with their family.