In an effort to understand the physical and emotional changes middle school kids experience, Ira speaks with reporter Linda Perlstein, who wrote a book called Not Much Just Chillin' about a year she spent following five middle schoolers. Then we hear from producer Alex Blumberg, who was a middle school teacher in Chicago for four years before getting into radio.
When Domingo Martinez was growing up in a Mexican-American family in Texas, Domingo's two middle school aged sisters found a unique way of coping with feelings of inferiority. This story comes from Martinez's memoir The Boy Kings of Texas.
We realized that there are already reporters on the ground, embedded inside middle schools: The kids who report the daily announcements, sometimes on video with full newscast sets. Producer Jonathan Menjivar wondered what would happen if instead of announcing sports scores and the daily cafeteria menu, the kids reported what's really on their minds.
Producer Sarah Koenig reports on a kid we'll call Leo, whose family moved away from Rochester, NY, leaving behind all of Leo's friends andstranding him in a new — and in his opinion, much worse — middle school.
Ira speaks with Shannon Grande, a teacher at Rise Academy in Newark, about a seventh grader who had all sorts of problems with behavior and hygiene and schoolwork. In order to help turn him around, Grande had to harness the power of peer pressure for good.
Alix Spiegel revisits a story she reported in 2006 - which caused more listeners to email us than any other story we've broadcast. It was about a Muslim American girl named "Chloe," who was tormented at school after the students had a lesson on 9/11.
In Malawi, in southeast Africa, not gossiping can be worse than gossiping. Sarah interviews a young Malawian woman named Hazel Namandingo, who explains that because so many people have HIV and AIDS in Malawi, they often rely on gossip to figure out who's safe to date or marry.
Producer Sarah Koenig continues the story Terry Engelder and Dan Volz, their rival calculations about natural gas in Pennsylvania, and how each was treated by his university. She explains how Pennsylvania's universities, politicans and industry have united to develop natural gas.
Unemployment is 9 percent, but it's worst among high school dropouts andpeople with only a high school education. Adam went to a place that'strying to help them find jobs: an organization called Pathstone, inRochester, NY.
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.