Subscribe to The Atlantic and get 2 free issues

Why Poor Schools Can't Win at Standardized Testing

A data journalism professor's experiment reveals a very big problem with standardized tests at the schools in Philadelphia.

PUBLISHED: July 21, 2014
LENGTH: 12 minutes (3091 words)

The Power of Two

An excerpt from Shenk's forthcoming book, Powers of Two, exploring creativity in pairs, and what made John Lennon and Paul McCartney's collaboration so powerful.

PUBLISHED: June 30, 2014
LENGTH: 15 minutes (3985 words)

Springtime in Tiananmen Square, 1989

While teaching English in Beijing, the author witnessed one of the most tumultuous protests in modern history.

We were young, and maybe a little naive, and we were angry at injustice. Whenever a group of us foreign teachers got together to share a meal or some beers, Chuck, the most cantankerous of our lot, would find an opportunity to say, “America is a toilet that flushes itself with five times more water than any other toilet in the world.” We were disenchanted with the me-first materialism of Reagan/Bush America. We wanted to live conscientiously. China in 1988 was a slumbering giant just beginning to awake. None of us expected our lives there to be easy, or profitable, or flashy like those of other young English teachers in trendier, booming Japan, but we were intrigued by the country’s recent reopening, and up for a challenge.

PUBLISHED: May 29, 2014
LENGTH: 22 minutes (5657 words)

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Our favorite stories of the week, featuring Buzzfeed, The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, Mosaic Science and Bloomberg Businessweek.
AUTHOR:Editors
SOURCE:Longreads
PUBLISHED: May 23, 2014

The Case for Reparations

Coates traces the history of slavery in America, in all its forms, and how reparations can signal “a national reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal”:

We must imagine a new country. Reparations—by which I mean the full acceptance of our collective biography and its consequences—is the price we must pay to see ourselves squarely. The recovering alcoholic may well have to live with his illness for the rest of his life. But at least he is not living a drunken lie. Reparations beckons us to reject the intoxication of hubris and see America as it is—the work of fallible humans.

PUBLISHED: May 21, 2014
LENGTH: 63 minutes (15836 words)

Dating in the 21st Century: A Reading List

This week's picks from Emily include stories from GQ, The Toast, Infinite Scroll, and The Atlantic.
SOURCE:Longreads
PUBLISHED: May 15, 2014

Project Wizard

Richard Nixon's brazen plan to redeem himself after Watergate:

Now Nixon’s preoccupation, even obsession, after being forced from office was to become a respected figure. It wasn’t for him to live out the rest of his life in disgrace. He was determined to become someone people listened to—a senior statesman, a sage. And the best way to be considered a sage, Nixon understood, was to establish one’s credentials as an expert in foreign policy, a man known to world leaders. Domestic policy didn’t cut it the same way: Lectures and articles on education or the environment didn’t attract the Brahmins and the business leaders Nixon wanted to attract, didn’t occupy nearly as much space on the stage. No splashy trips.

In accordance with the Wizard plan, the former president first would write another memoir (because statesmen wrote memoirs), both to make money and to give his own version of events. Money wasn’t a new preoccupation but now Nixon feared expensive trials (until the pardon) and had just paid a heap in back taxes rather than risk impeachmment on the matter. Nixon’s book sold astonishingly well. To get some questions behind him and make still more money, Nixon also struck a lucrative deal for a series of interviews with the British talk-show host David Frost, which aired in 1977. Nixon was paid a whopping $600,000 for signing and was to earn from each sale of the interviews, an odd arrangement. On Watergate, which the deal held to one of the four sessions, Nixon wasn’t nearly as revealing as the play and movie Frost/Nixon had it, but interest in him was sufficiently strong and he said just enough—“I let down my country”—to draw great interest and line his pockets.

PUBLISHED: May 15, 2014
LENGTH: 11 minutes (2919 words)

The Private Lives of Public Bathrooms

The public collides uncomfortably with the private in the bathroom as it does nowhere else. How psychology, gender roles, and design explain the distinctive way we behave in the world's stalls:

The vulnerability and exposure of using a urinal seems to create the need for additional social boundaries, in place of even “flimsy” physical ones. A famous, though ethically questionable, study from 1976 found that invading this socially agreed-upon bubble of personal space made it much more difficult for men to pee. To discover this, one researcher hid in a bathroom stall and watched men at the urinals through a periscope, timing the “delay and persistence” of urination when a confederate came into the bathroom and stood right next to or one urinal removed from the unknowing participant. The closer the confederate was, the longer the delay before the man was able to go, and the less time he peed overall. Whether he would have been able to go at all had he known someone was spying on him through a periscope, no one can say.

AUTHOR:Julie Beck
PUBLISHED: April 16, 2014
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4520 words)

The History of the Future: A Reading List

A new technology reading list by Daniel A. Gross, featuring Wired, The Atlantic and Esquire.
SOURCE:Longreads
PUBLISHED: April 15, 2014