Does “Early Education” Come Way Too Late?

Season 5, Episode 42 This week on Freakonomics Radio, in our collective zeal to reform schools and close the achievement gap, we may have lost sight of where most learning really happens — at home. Dana Suskind of the Thirty Million Words Initiative works with parents in their homes to teach them the best ways of […]

Preventing Crime for Pennies on the Dollar

Season 5, Episode 21

On this week’s episode of Freakonomics Radio: conventional crime-prevention programs tend to be expensive, onerous, and ineffective. Could something as simple (and cheap) as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) do the trick? First we go to Chicago, where at-risk teenagers who learn to be less impulsive have lower dropout and arrest rates.

Then, we take a look at Liberia, where a former child soldier and a team of researchers pair CBT with a cash incentive to help other former soldiers become productive citizens in peacetime.

The Troubled Cremation of Stevie the Cat: A Freakonomics Radio Rebroadcast

If there's a death in your family and you choose to have your loved one cremated, wouldn't you expect that the remains that are returned to you belong specifically to your beloved? Of course you would! Would you expect the same if the dearly departed happens to be the family pet? I suspect the answer is still yes. But in the fast-growing pet-cremation business, how do you know that the remains you're getting back are indeed from your pet?

This week’s podcast is a rebroadcast of our episode called “The Troubled Cremation of Stevie the Cat.”

The Middle of Everywhere: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

You know how there are people who get talked about a lot and then there are people who actually do a lot?

It strikes me that the same could be said of cities. And I'd put Chicago near the top of any list of cities that have done a lot. From an East Coast view, or West, it can appear that Chicago is the middle of nowhere. In this week's podcast, we make the argument that Chicago is, in fact, the middle of everywhere. (You can subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript below; it includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

The episode features Thomas Dyja, the author of several books, most recently The Third Coast: When Chicago Built the American Dream. He talks about 10 things that Chicago gave the world, some of them surprising and some just forgotten. Dyja isn't arguing that Chicago is still in its heyday -- it is almost certainly not -- but he make a persuasive case that it is underappreciated on many dimensions, and that the world would be a very different place if Chicago hadn't been so busy being Chicago.

How Is a Bad Radio Station Like Our Public-School System? A Freakonomics Radio Podcast Encore

Our recent podcast “Weird Recycling” looked at ways to reuse things that most people don't think are reusable, like chicken feet and nuclear waste. This week, we’re taking our own advice, and updating a program we did a while back. It's called "How Is a Bad Radio Station Like Our Public-School System?" and it focuses on what you might call the thrill of customization — that is, how technology increasingly enables each of us to get what we want out of life. (You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen live via the media player above, or read the transcript below.)

The main focus of the episode is a fascinating New York City Department of Education pilot program called School of One, which customizes the classroom experience for each student.