Last week, NPR’s This American Life featured an episode on middle school. Since middle school is near and dear to me (it’s my life’s work, I guess), I loved the episode and thought I’d share. Click the photo to visit the site and listen to the episode:
Act 2: NPR corespondents attend a middle school dance. Brought up fun mental pictures of Ira Glass at a school dance, even though he was not the reporter that did this segment.
Act 4: Producer Jonathan Menjivar visits a middle school TV news studio for a week and lets the kids report on what they think is news (hilarious!).
Act 6: A teacher at a KIPP school with 91% Free/Reduced lunch students discusses harnessing the power of peer pressure for good when dealing with a difficult student. This act, to me, was most like my every day experiences at my school.
by Tom Vanderbilt
[This one was kind of a cheat because I read 80% of the book in July and never finished it]
The best part about this book was that I “read” it as an audio book while driving, and it made me really conscious of what the people were doing on the road around me! But I think that was the right way to do the book, and I’m glad I did.
I read Traffic because I listened to a fabulous Stuff You Should Know podcast about How Traffic Works, where they recommended the book (FYI, SYSK is my favorite podcast…ever). Traffic has always made me both angry and curious. How is it that traffic jams form on US 52 every morning when there is nothing blocking the lanes? Why do people think they can get away with late merging? What’s up with rubbernecking? And why on earth is my lane of traffic always the slowest?
Well, I learned a lot. I learned that adding additional lanes to highways doesn’t usually relieve traffic congestion. Roundabouts are far safer than regular intersections. People see other cars on the highway as objects, not objects driven by real people (so true!). Many roads are now busier on weekends than during workday commute hours. I spend at least an hour a day in my car, so I found the book interesting and relevant.
I would compare it to Freakonomics in that the information should be taken with a grain of salt — some conclusions were drawn based on assumptions or playing with statistics. It was a fun read, but I wouldn’t say I took all points of the book terribly seriously. Overall, it was a good choice.