Ira plays a recorded example of American-style democracy, a school board meeting in Tucson, recorded by a high school teacher, Sarah Bromer.
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.
Sarah Koenig drives to Jeffersonville, a town of about 1200, and when she asks who is the most interesting person in town, she's led to Sonya Mallory.
In the world of engineers and investors, there's something called the "elevator pitch." It's what you'd say if you ran into a rich investor in an elevator, and had only 60 seconds to sell your product. The concept is so common that MIT actually hosts a contest for the best elevator pitch.
A retired millionaire tries to understand the reality of a tough, seedy, inner city neighborhood. But what if the neighborhood is none of those things? Ira Glass evaluates the claims of this millionaire, Steve Poizner, who is also running for governor of California.
For the last 13 years, the University of Montevallo in Alabama has held an event called The Life Raft Debate, where several professors take the stage and each tries to convince the students that his or her discipline—chemistry, say, or communications—is the most essential field of study. But in 2007, a professor named Jon Smith decided that the debate itself needed saving.
Harry Brakeman University.
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.
Host Ira Glass visits This American Life producer Sarah Koenig at her house in State College PA, a few blocks from Penn State's campus, on a weekend night near one in the morning. They witness all kinds of alcohol-induced mayhem.
Most of the This American Life production staff spent the weekend at Penn State, and found that drinking is the great unifier at the school. Ira Glass, Sarah Koenig, Lisa Pollak and Jane Feltes report on tailgating parties, frat parties, an article of clothing known as a "fracket," and a surprising and common drunken crime.
Administrators have tried everything to curb drinking at Penn State, and nothing has worked. Producer Sarah Koenig reports on why this issue is so hard to tackle, and on how students react when a student dies from alcohol poisoning.
Jeff Simmermon tells a story from his days as a student teacher, about a time when he decided to forgo all the rules, and administer frontier justice on the fly. This story was recorded in front of an audience at the Moth storytelling series.
Host Ira Glass talks to Jay Allison, who is in charge of the team at This I Believe, an essay series. Jay wonders why Ira's never contributed an essay about what he believes.
For NPR's Adam Davidson, dropping out of college is the worst thing any young person can do in this economy. So when Adam's favorite cousin DJ does just that, Adam brings in a professor of economics from Georgetown University to help persuade DJ to get back on the right track.
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.
Amy Roberts thought it was obvious that she was an adult, not a kid, and she assumed the friendly man working at the children's museum knew it too. Unfortunately, the man had Amy pegged all wrong.
Production manager Seth Lind explains how he ended up watching Stanley Kubrick's The Shining when he was six years old, and how it led to two years where every night he had trouble falling asleep and nightmares. Seth is a member of the improv comedy group Thank You, Robot and hosts a live storytelling show in New York called Told.
When David Ellis Dickerson was 12, he got a new bike, and his father decided to use the occasion to teach David a lesson. But the lesson David learned wasn't the one his father intended.
When Amy Silverman's daughter was born with Down syndrome, she followed the advice of all the parents she met: She signed her daughter up for "early intervention" therapy. But her daughter's progress had unexpected consequences, forcing Amy to make a choice she'd never predicted.
Host Ira Glass talks with Kayla Hernandez, a seventh-grader who likes to reminisce about when she was a child, back in fifth grade. She visits Room 211 in her school, where her fifth grade class met, and looks at her old books, thinks about what happened there.