How to Become a Reader

I grew up in a house filled with books, but by the standards of the cultured they weren’t good books. We had no bookshelves, which meant that you couldn’t set a glass on a table without first moving a cheap paperback of some kind, or, more likely, several of them: I spent much of my childhood making … Continued

Is Forgiveness Always Necessary?

In the summer of 2015, less than a week after Dylann Roof murdered nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina — a crime for which, yesterday, he was sentenced to death — the relatives of his victims arrived at his first court appearance with a surprising message: forgiveness. “We have no room for hating, so we have … Continued

The Strange History of ‘The Late Great Planet Earth’

Long before the Left Behind books crowded the New York Times best-seller list, Hal Lindsey and C. C. Carlson’s The Late Great Planet Earth introduced millions of readers worldwide to end-times prophecy. An accessible, engaging introduction to the coming apocalypse, The Late Great Planet Earth was the best-selling nonfiction book of the 1970s: Ten million copies were in circulation by the end of the … Continued

Why So Many Students Aren’t College-Ready

Our K-12 education system has a transparency problem, and our higher-education system is complicit. While some American parents have a decent sense of whether their children are on track for the kinds of colleges they hope to attend, many more have been kept in the dark — or have been sorely misled. Most parents think their children … Continued

Montaigne and the Legacy of Liberalism

French writers of the airier, belletristic kind used to enjoy pointing out that Michel de Montaigne, the man who invented the essay, was born Michel Eyquem, in Bordeaux in 1533, and that the family name and estate survive to this day in the name of Château d’Yquem, the greatest of all French sweet wines. The … Continued

Why People Hate Open Office Plans

Four years ago, Chris Nagele did what many other technology executives have done before — he moved his team into an open concept office. His staff had been exclusively working from home, but he wanted everyone to be together, to bond and collaborate more easily. It quickly became clear, though, that Nagele had made a … Continued

The Scientific Method and Child’s Play

There is a theory in psychology called the theory theory. It’s a theory about theories. While this might sound obvious, the theory theory leads to counterintuitive conclusions. A quarter-century ago, psychologists began to point out important links between the development of scientific theories and how everyday thinking, including children’s thinking, works. According to theory theorists, a … Continued

How to Raise an Honest Child

When it comes to morality, as research has shown, little kids don’t really do nuance — there’s right, and there’s wrong, and there’s not really space in between for messy things like effort or intent. For all their moral snobbery, though, kids can be pretty bad at living up to those same high standards, particularly when there’s … Continued

Why Won’t Writers Talk About What They Earn?

In 2012, a month after the publication of her memoir, Wild, Cheryl Strayed was on a book tour, soaking up the wonder of her first big success as an author, when her husband texted her to say that their rent check had bounced. “We couldn’t complain to anyone,” Strayed told Manjula Martin, editor of the new anthology Scratch: … Continued

Why STEM Needs the Humanities

When I was a freshman, half a century ago, I asked one of my professors — an eminent mathematician named Lars Ahlfors — for advice on my academic program. As a budding mathematician, I knew about a lot of math courses I should take and some physics courses as well. I asked what other courses … Continued