The Atlantic | All Articles

The Atlantic

Sexting Is A Totally Normal Thing For American High School Kids Now

4:47 AM 10/17/2014

Within an hour, the deputies realized just how common the sharing of nude pictures was at the school. "The boys kept telling us, 'It's nothing unusual. It happens all the time,'" Lowe recalls. Every time someone they were interviewing mentioned another kid who might have naked pictures on his or her phone, they had to call that kid in for an interview. After just a couple of days, the deputies had filled multiple evidence bins with phones, and they couldn't see an end to it. Fears of a cabal got replaced by a more mundane concern: what to do with "hundreds of damned phones. I told the deputies, 'We got to draw the line somewhere or we're going to end up talking to every teenager in the damned county!'" Nor did the problem stop at the county's borders. Several boys, in an effort to convince Lowe that they hadn’t been doing anything rare or deviant, showed him that he could type the hashtag symbol (#) into Instagram followed by the name of pretty much any nearby county and then thots, and find a similar account.

America didn’t used to be full of wusses who close schools because of some cold air

10:54 PM 01/09/2014

Record-low temperatures caused by the Polar Vortex have forced schools across the country to close this week. Weather-related school cancellations tend to raise anxieties about whether we're a nation of wimps. During President Obama's first winter in Washington, he complained when his daughters' school closed for bad weather: "We're going to have to apply some flinty Chicago toughness to this town." In response to this latest round of school closings, a Virginia mom sighed, "Hasn’t anyone heard of gloves, scarf and a hat when it’s cold?? Just bundle up—people do it all over the world. We are such wimps to cancel school."

Can it possibly be true that Facebook makes high school kids better writers?

4:22 AM 11/19/2013

As a high-school English teacher, I read well over a thousand student essays a year. I can report that complete sentences are an increasingly endangered species. I wearily review the point of paragraphs every semester. This year I tried and failed to spark a senior class protest against "blobs"—my pejorative term for essays lacking paragraphs. When I see a winky face in the body of a personal essay—and believe me, it has happened enough to warrant a routine response—I use a red pen to draw next to it a larger face with narrow, angry eyes and gaping jaws poised to chomp the offending emoticon to pieces Pac-Man-style. My students analyze good writing and discuss the effect of word choice and elegant syntax on an audience's reading experience. The uphill battle is worth fighting, but I'm always aware that something more foreboding than chronic senioritis lines up in opposition.

Is it a good idea to yank your kids out of the standardized testing racket?

7:10 AM 11/16/2013

Standardized testing has long been a part of public education. Since 2002, the U.S. Department of Education has required that states receiving federal education funding test third- through eighth-grade students in reading and math, which is usually done in the spring and used to generate school and district report cards. Some states and districts have added annual tests in other grades and subjects, or even added fall testing. The most controversial new tests are those that have been added to the schedule in order to evaluate teachers.

Do private schools suck even worse than public schools?

6:07 AM 10/19/2013

Sarah Theule Lubienski didn't set out to compare public schools and private schools. A professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she was studying math instructional techniques when she discovered something surprising: Private schools—long assumed to be educationally superior—were underperforming public schools.

A dude tries to do his eighth-grade daughter’s homework for a week; hilarity ensues

1:56 AM 09/23/2013

Memorization, not rationalization. That is the advice of my 13-year-old daughter, Esmee, as I struggle to make sense of a paragraph of notes for an upcoming Earth Science test on minerals. “Minerals have crystal systems which are defined by the # of axis and the length of the axis that intersect the crystal faces.” That’s how the notes start, and they only get murkier after that. When I ask Esmee what this actually means, she gives me her homework credo.

Smugglers are literally shooting drugs out cannons into US

12:19 PM 12/12/2012

Just when you thought drug running couldn't get more extreme, U.S. border patrol officers find 33 cans of marijuana in the desert near the border that they believe were fired from a cannon in Mexico. Authorities caught wind of the new technique when they received reports of some strange canisters popping up near the Colorado River in southern Arizona recently. Agents arrived at the scene to find the cans which collectively held 85 pounds of marijuana. That's worth $42,500 on the street. By the looks of it, the smugglers had loaded the cans into a pneumatic-powered cannon (think: potato gun) and blasted them 500 yards over the border. Bummer none of their buddies came to pick it up before the police.

How teachers will use e-readers to catch cheaters

11:26 AM 11/13/2012

These are tough times for plagiarists and would-be academic cheaters. That may seem a counter-intuitive statement, given how much material is online, just waiting to be copied-and-pasted, and how many services are ready to write your papers for you for a nominal (or not so nominal) consideration.