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.
The most innocent possible student uprising imaginable...documented by an actual student, Hillary Frank, using the crude tools of a telephone answering machine and a shiny red boom box.
We hear from New York City school teachers about a secret room in the New York City Board of Education building. Teachers are told to report there, and when they arrive, they find out they're under investigation for something.
Writer Rosie Schaap tells the story of how she ingratiated herself into the adult society of the Metroliner commuter train bar car as a teenager. She would cast Tarot card prophesies for riders, in exchange for beer.
Malcolm Gladwell is a best-selling author and famous journalist at the New Yorker magazine. But not always.
Writer David Rakoff explains how his life was changed—in a single evening—in a room of 5000 chickens.
Host Ira Glass talks about not being able to admit when he's wrong, as well as other traits he's not proud of, but can't seem to change.
Sam Slaven is an Iraq War veteran who came home from the War plagued by feelings of hate and anger toward Muslims. TAL producer Lisa Pollak tells the story of the unusual action Sam took to change himself, and the Muslim students who helped him do it.