TIME animals

Dogs Can Be Pessimists, Too

Sad dog
Patricia Doyle—Getty Images

Dogs may seem happy-go-lucky, but according to a new study some pooches might actually be cynics

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

With their tongues out, tails wagging, and hearts full of seemingly unconditional love, it’s easy to assume man’s best friend is happy by nature. But a new study suggests that, just like their human counterparts, certain dogs may see their bowls half empty.

It seems some canines are born optimists, while others are pessimists, according to the research from Dr. Melissa Starling, a faculty member of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney.

(MORE: How to Make Positive Changes in Your Life)

To determine which dogs were happy-go-lucky and which were generally down in the dumps, the researchers set up a test: First, they taught the study animals to touch a target after hearing a tone associated with a more favorable lactose-free milk reward and refrain from touching the target after hearing a tone associated with plain water. Once the dogs learned the sound associations, researchers presented them with unfamiliar tones to see how they would respond.

(MORE: How to Look Good in Pictures)

Animals that did not respond to the tones were considered pessimists, while dogs that touched the target after hearing the unknown sounds were categorized as optimists, because they expected a favorable reward. Since optimistic canines hoped for a positive outcome, they’re more likely to take risks and try again—even if the initial result isn’t favorable.

Pessimistic dogs, on the other hand, are more cautious because they’re hardwired to expect a negative outcome. A darker disposition doesn’t necessarily mean those dogs are unhappy though—they’re just less willing to try new things, as failure can be distressing.

(MORE: 6 Office Wardrobe Malfunctions to Avoid)

The findings are particularly useful for determining which dogs may be better suited for certain service roles: “A pessimistic dog that avoids risks would be better as a guide dog while an optimistic, persistent dog would be more suited to detecting drugs or explosives,” Starling said in a statement.

(MORE: Banishing Life’s Little Annoyances)

“The remarkable power of this is the opportunity to essentially ask a dog ‘How are you feeling?’ and get an answer,” she said. “It could be used to monitor their welfare in any environment, to assess how effective enrichment activities might be in improving welfare, and pinpoint exactly what a dog finds emotionally distressing.”

(MORE: 5 Ways to Win People Over)

TIME Opinion

50 Years Later: Why My Fair Lady Is Better Than You Remember

Audrey Hepburn In 'My Fair Lady'
Audrey Hepburn in a scene from the film 'My Fair Lady' Archive Photos / Getty Images

Think it's a sexist relic? Think again

I know what you’re going to say about Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins. A snobby British guy in a Sherlock suit tries to “improve” a working woman by teaching her to talk pretty and look bangin’ in necklaces?! Screw you, Henry Higgins! Lean in to the flower business, Eliza! There’s nothing “loverly” about misogynistic woman-shaping narratives! Put My Fair Lady in a folder with all the other movies that “send bad messages,” like Grease and Gone With the Wind!

Screw Henry Higgins, indeed, but please do not underestimate My Fair Lady, a movie that, on Tuesday, celebrates the 50th anniversary of its premiere. And although it may be easy to dismiss the 1964 movie musical as an outdated rom-com from the shady period before feminism got rolling, it’s much more than just a relic of a sexist time. The movie itself isn’t misogynistic– it’s about misogyny.

First, a little history: The 1964 Audrey Hepburn movie version of My Fair Lady is based on the Broadway musical (starring Julie Andrews) with songs written by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. The musical was based on George Bernard Shaw’s 1912 play, Pygmalion, which was itself based on the part in Ovid’s Metamorphosis when a sculptor named Pygmalion falls in love with his statue of the perfect woman. That part of Metamorphosis was based on every guy who ever thought he could create the girl of his dreams (specifically, Freddie Prinze Jr. in She’s All That, of which Ovid was reportedly a mega-fan).

Even studio execs are always trying to cultivate the perfect girl, and that led to a bit of behind-the-scenes drama when it came to casting Eliza Doolittle. Julie Andrews had played Eliza on Broadway, and had already mastered the character and the vocals, and her stage co-star Rex Harrison was going to play Higgins in the movie. But studio head Jack Warner didn’t think Julie Andrews had the name recognition or glamor to carry a major motion picture. “With all her charm and ability, Julie Andrews was just a Broadway name known primarily to those who saw the play,” Jack Warner wrote in his 1965 autobiography My First Hundred Years in Hollywood. “I knew Audrey Hepburn had never made a financial flop.” But Andrews got the last word — losing the My Fair Lady role allowed her to make Mary Poppins, for which she won a Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Actress.

Audrey herself was still pretty good, even if she had to have her songs dubbed by another singer. As TIME wrote after the movie came out in 1964:

The burning question mark of this sumptuous adaptation is Audrey Hepburn’s casting as Eliza, the role that Julie Andrews had clearly been born to play….after a slow start, when the practiced proficiency of her cockney dialect suggests that Actress Hepburn is really only slumming, she warms her way into a graceful, glamorous performance, the best of her career.

From Ancient Greece to Edwardian England to 1960s Hollywood, the narrative remains the same: an overbearing male “genius” who transforms a pliable (read: vulnerable) woman from her meager, inadequate self into his personal ideal of womanhood. But thanks to Lerner and Loewe’s songs, My Fair Lady critiques that narrative as much as it upholds it. Their musical is not about a genius attempting to transform a weak woman. It’s about a strong woman attempting to retain her identity in spite of the controlling machinations of a small-minded man.

Take, for example, the undisguised misogyny in nearly all of Henry Higgins’s songs (spoken, with droll irony, by Rex Harrison). This is from a song near the end, fittingly titled “A Hymn to Him,” in which Higgins asks “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?”:

Why is thinking something women never do?
Why is logic never even tried?
Straightening up their hair is all they ever do /
Why don’t they straighten up the mess that’s inside?

This comes shortly after he says women’s “heads are full of cotton, hay and rags” calls men a “marvelous sex.” That’s not the only song where he drones on about how amazing he is compared to women: in “You Did It,” he takes complete credit for everything Eliza does, and in “I’m an Ordinary Man,” he idealizes his woman-free “bachelor” life.

Now, it’s entirely possible that Lerner and Loewe were themselves misogynistic jerks, and these songs were meant as appreciative bro-anthems. Maybe if they had been alive today, the music videos would have featured naked models on leashes. But more likely, they wrote these songs to humiliate Henry Higgins, to show the audience that he’s a jerk and they know it.

And Eliza Doolittle has plenty of songs that demonstrate she is anything but a statue; after all, the entire musical is written largely from her perspective. By far the best is “Without You,” which is pretty much the Edwardian-showtune version of Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable:”

Without your pulling it, the tide comes in
Without your twirling it, the Earth can spin
Without your pushing them, the clouds roll by,
If they can do without you, ducky, so can I.

There’s also “Show Me” (where she tells her loser boyfriend Freddy that actions speak louder than words) and “Just You Wait” (where she fantasizes about leaving Henry Higgins for him to drown in the ocean while she goes to meet the King). Lerner and Loewe could easily have made Eliza into a love-sick ingenue, just by writing a few more songs like “I Could Have Danced All Night” (where she’s crushing on Higgins because they danced for a hot second, remember it’s 1912.) But they didn’t.

Of course, the whole Eliza-is-a-strong-woman argument gets compromised by the ending. Because after all her proclamations that she can “stand on her own,” Eliza comes back to Higgins. And when he asks “where the devil are my slippers?” she brings them to him. It’s an ending with the same ashy taste as the ending of Grease, because it seems incongruous: Eliza has no business being with Higgins, and it’s clear she’s independent-minded enough to know it.

Except, it’s 1912. And Eliza has no family connections, no money and no formal education, which means she has nowhere to go but back to the streets (or away with the insipid and financially dubious Freddy). She isn’t brainwashed or stupid — when given the choice between an emotionally abusive man and destitution, she chose the man. Choosing the man doesn’t make My Fair Lady a sexist movie; it makes it a movie about a sexist time.

Of course, 50 years later, there’s another version of My Fair Lady: Selfie, on ABC, is the newest to take up the Pygmalion mantel, when a male marketing exec “rebrands” a girl who has fouled up her social media presence. Let’s see how they do it without Lerner and Loewe.

Read TIME’s 1964 review of My Fair Lady, here in the archives: Still the Fairest of Them All

TIME Companies

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Says Company Pays Men and Women Equally

Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Officer Satya NadellaSpeaks At Company Event
Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp., speaks to students during the Microsoft Talent India conference in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. Graham Crouch—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Verifying the lack of a pay gap is difficult, however

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who was criticized earlier this month for saying women should not ask for raises, said Monday that his company pays men and women equally.

“I checked that it is something that we are enforcing,” said Nadella, who has apologized for the earlier remarks, at a presentation in San Francisco, Reuters reports. “We are in fact in good shape. Men and women get paid equally at Microsoft.”

Nadella’s statement is difficult to verify, as Microsoft does not make its pay structure public. Nadella’s comments also seem to contradict data from the site Glassdoor, which reported — based on a very small sample of employees who voluntarily shared their salaries — that men seem to earn more than woman doing the same job. According to its figures, male senior software development engineers earn around $137,000 a year, while women with that title earn around $129,000 a year.

“We have made some progress,” Nadella said during the presentation. “We have a lot more to do.”

[Reuters]

TIME health

Why So Many Women Are Crying at the Gym

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Yoga mudra Stefano Oppo—Getty Images

For a generation of stressed-out working women, exercise is as much about emotional release as it is physical training.

“Let it out! Let out the sludge!”

It’s 7am on a Tuesday, at a small dance studio in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood, and Taryn Toomey is stomping her feet into the floor like thunder. “Get rid of the bullsh*t!” she shouts. “Get rid of the drama!”

Two dozen women in yoga pants and sports bras sprint in place behind her, eyes closed, arms flailing. Sweat is flying. The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” is blaring in the background. There are grunts and screams. “Hell yes!” a woman bellows.

When the song ends, Toomey directs the group into child’s pose, torso folded over the knees, forehead on the floor, arms spread forward. Coldplay comes on, and there is a moment of rest. “Inhale. Exhale. Feel your center,” Toomey says. Heads slowly come up, and suddenly, tears are streaming down the faces of half the room. A woman in front of me is physically trembling. “I just let it all out,” a middle-aged woman in leggings and a tank top whispers.

This is “The Class”—one part yoga, two parts bootcamp, three parts emotional release, packaged into an almost spiritual… no, tribal… 75 minutes. It is the creation of fashion exec turned yoga instructor Toomey, and it is where New York’s high-flying women go for emotional release (if, that is, they can get a spot).

“During my first class I didn’t just cry, I sobbed,” says McKenzie Hayes, a 22-year-old New Yorker who has become a regular in the class. “Whether it’s your job or your relationships, I literally picture my emotional problems being slowly unstuck from my body and moved out.”

Toomey calls that “sludge”: it’s the emotional baggage we carry in our muscles that has nowhere else to go. She’s not a doctor. But week after week, she encourages participants to sweat, scream and cry out those emotions, in the company of a group of mostly women who are doing the same. “I’ve had classes where people are literally on all fours sobbing,” Toomey says. “But it’s not just my class, it’s happening everywhere. Emotional release in public can feel very uncomfortable. But I think there’s a growing movement of people who want to find a space for it.”

Indeed, the message to women has long been to hide your tears lest you look weak. (Among the tactics: jutting out your jaw. Breathing exercises. Chewing gum. Drinking water.) Yet while crying in the office may remain a feminine faux pas, tears at the gym seem to have lost their stigma — to the extent that there are a bevy of fitness courses that even encourage it.

For Asie Mohtarez, a Brooklyn makeup artist, it began in hot yoga. The music was on, the floor was warm, the instructor was standing over her encouraging her to let go. “I was in child’s pose and I just lost it,” she says. Then, two weeks later, it happened again – this time at Physique 57. The Dirty Dancing soundtrack came on and it was waterworks again. “There’s something about these classes that feel safe,” says the 33-year-old. “I can’t cry at work. I’m not emotionally distraught enough to cry in the shower. I can’t just burst into tears in front of my husband. So, what does that leave you with?”

You could go to therapy – or you could hit the gym. Women are getting teary in SoulCycle, and misty-eyed at Pure Barre. They are letting out wails in yoga and rubbing the shoulder of the weepy woman next to them at CrossFit. “I think people have started to notice that their clients are just showing up to class and just unloading, and so they’re tailoring their classes to create space for this,” says Hayes, who is a pilates instructor by day. “When I take private clients I end up feeling like a therapist for them.”

These fitness instructors aren’t trained in that, of course. But they’ve probably been there.

“I usually just go over to the student after class and quietly ask how they’re feeling,” says Kristin Esposito, a yoga instructor in Los Angeles who sees criers often. “My classes are focused on release so it feels pretty natural.”

Physiologically, it is: Exercise releases endorphins, which interact with serotonin and dopamine, the chemicals that impact mood. In yoga, deep hip openers – like the “pigeon pose” – are meant to stir emotions (yogis believe our emotional baggage lives in our hips).

But many of the newer courses are specifically choreographed to release emotion, too – making it all that much more intense. The lights are dim, candles flicker in the background. It’s not an accident that just as you’re starting to relax, coming down from the adrenaline, you’re blasted with a throaty ballad. Those playlists are meticulously constructed. “I’ve been teaching for almost 20 years, so I’ve basically seen it all: crying, laughing, throwing up, overheating,” says Stacey Griffith, a Soul Cycle instructor. “There are moments in the class that are directly programmed for that reason – but it’s not like we’re trying to get people to cry. We’re giving them the space to step outside of themselves.”

And indeed, that may be necessary. We’re busier, more stressed and more connected than we’ve ever been. Simply finding the time to have that “space” can be near impossible, making the release that these courses offer – packaged neatly into an hour – a kind of fix. “The night before, I can’t wait,” says Hayes of Toomey’s class. “I already know what will be the flood that I’m working through. And sometimes conversations with friends just don’t cut it.”

Getting those emotions out is a good thing – at least in moderation. Emotional tears contain manganese, potassium, and a hormone called prolactin, which help lower cholesterol, control high blood and boost the immune system. Crying reduces stress, and, according to one study, from the University of Minnesota, actually improves the mood of nearly 90 percent of people who do it. “You really do feel lighter after,” says Hayes.

“To me, it’s a sign of being present, it’s a sign of feeling your feelings, of being in the moment,” says Toomey, just after “the class” has ended. Plus, shoulder to shoulder in a hot room, there is almost a sense of communal release. Of high-charged emotional camaraderie. “I so needed this,” a woman tells her on the way out, with a hug. And, of course, with that much sweat, the tears are almost hidden anyway.

TIME Education

Planned Parenthood Thinks It Found a Way to Stop Middle Schoolers from Having Sex

It's all about sex-ed that moves outside the classroom

Planned Parenthood is touting a new study that found its middle school sex education program successfully delays sex for both boys and girls by the end of 8th grade by encouraging more talk about the subject between students and their parents outside the classroom.

The study, conducted by the Wellesley Centers for Women in partnership with Planned Parenthood, evaluated the Get Real program in 24 schools in the Boston area over the course of three years. The curriculum spans sixth through eighth grade and has students pair lessons in school with take-home assignments designed to start dialogues between them and their parents or caregivers. Of the 24 schools in the study, half used Get Real and half used their usual sexual education curriculum; 16% fewer boys and 15% fewer girls had sex in the schools using the Get Real curriculum. The study was published in the Journal of School Health.

“Awkward as this might be for some, Get Real makes it a little less awkward and easier to have these conversations,” said Lisa Grace, a parent in a Massachusetts school district using Get Real.

Along with highlighting parents as the primary sexual educators for their children, Get Real also focuses on relationship skills as an avenue for sexual health.

“If kids are able to negotiate relationships, they will be better able to negotiate sexual relationships,” said Jennifer Slonaker, a vice president of education and training for the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.

Get Real is currently taught in 150 schools in Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Texas. Planned Parenthood representatives hope the program’s success can be replicated on a larger national scale, even in more conservative states.

“The curriculum does not espouse values,” said Grace, the mother in Massachusetts. “It makes it very clear that the parents should continue to be the primary sexual educators for their kids. So that reassured a lot of folks.”

“This is a program for older elementary and early middle school students that helps young people to delay having sex,” said Leslie Kantor, a vice president for education at Planned Parenthood. “So even states that stress abstinence… might be very interested in this type of program since it actually gets to these abstinence kind of outcomes.”

 

TIME behavior

Breaking Bad Action Figures? Really, Toys R Us?

No, you're not hallucinating, that really is a Walter White doll.
No, you're not hallucinating, that really is a Walter White doll.

Jeffrey Kluger is Editor at Large for TIME.

In a spectacularly bad bit of judgment, the big box store puts a meth manufacturer on its shelves.

Human history is often defined by its very worst pitch meetings. Take the one in 1812, when one of Napoleon’s generals told the Great Emperor, “I’ve got an idea. Let’s invade Russia—in the winter!” Or the one in 1985, when the anonymous product developer at Coca-Cola said, “How ’bout we take a product everyone loves, quit making it and replace it with a different formulation no one is asking for! What could go wrong?”

So too it must have gone in the executive suites of Toys R Us, when someone made the compelling case for stocking a brand-new line of action figures based on the wildly successful Breaking Bad series. After all, nothing quite says holiday shopping like a bendable, fully costumed figurine of Walter White—the murderous chemistry teacher turned crystal meth manufacturer—and Jesse Pinkman, his former student and current bag man. And you want accessories? We’ve got accessories—including a duffle bag stuffed with imaginary cash and a plastic bag of, yes, faux crystal meth for White. Pinkman comes with a gas mask, because the folks at Toys R Us are not the kind to forget about corporate responsibility. If your kids are going to grow up to run a meth lab, it’s never too early to teach them basic safety.

It might not surprise you to learn that Toys R Us has faced a teensy bit of blowback from this curious marketing decision. Florida mom Susan Schrivjer has posted a petition on Change.org that has just exceeded 2,000 signatures, demanding that the company pull the products. She also appeared on The Today Show to make her case more publicly.

“Anything to do with drugs is not doing the right thing,” she said. “I just think they need to look at their vision and values as they call them.”

The part that’s more surprising—but sadly only a little—is that even after being called on its appalling lack of judgment, Toys R Us has not responded with the quickest, loudest, most abject oops in corporate history. Instead, it is standing its ground. Why? Because the dolls are sold only in the “adult section” of the store, of course—the ones intended for shoppers 15 and up.

OK, let’s start with the fact that Toys R Us has an adult section at all—something I never knew and I suspect many other parents didn’t either. So what will they stock there next? A line of Toys R Us hard cider? Toys R Us adult literature? A Toys R Us edition of Fifty Shades of Gray—which is really OK because hey, it actually comes with a set of 50 gray crayons? If an adult section must exist at all, at what point does full disclosure require the company to rebrand itself “Toys as Well as Other Things Not Remotely Appropriate For Children But Don’t Worry Because We Keep Them in a Separate Section, R Us”?

More important, let’s look at above-15 as the dividing line for the adult section—a distinction that makes perfect sense because if there’s anything 15 year olds are known for, it’s their solid judgment, their awareness of consequences, their exceptional impulse control and their utter imperviousness to the siren song of drugs and alcohol. Oh, and they never, ever emulate bad role models they encounter on TV, in the movies or among their peers. What’s more, kids below the age of 15 never, ever run wild in a sensory theme park like a big box toy store, finding themselves in departments not meant for them and seeing products they shouldn’t see. Toys R Us, you’ve thought this one out to the last detail!

What the company’s consumer researchers probably know and if they don’t they ought to, is that the brain’s frontal lobes—where higher order executive functions live—aren’t even fully myelinated until we reach our late 20s, which is why young people can be so spectacularly reckless, why soldiers and political firebrands tend to be young and why judges, heads of state and clerical leaders tend to be old. The adult fan of Breaking Bad might actually enjoy the new toys as collectors items–something to be bought or given as a gift with a little twinkle of irony, a this-is-so-wrong-it’s-right sort of thing. But that kind of nuance isn’t remotely within a child’s visible spectrum.

Really, Toys R Us, there is absolutely no surviving this one. Back up the truck, pack up the toys and send them to a landfill. And if you’re even thinking about following this one up with a Boardwalk Empire board game complete with a Nucky Thompson plush toy, stop now. Or at the very least, invite me to the pitch meeting.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME society

2014 Could Be the Year of the ‘Sexy Lobster’ Halloween Costume

The CEO of Yandy explains his company's bizarre 2014 costume offerings

For this year’s sexy Halloween costume, consider the lobster.

According to Chad Horstman, the “sexy lobster” just may be the “it” costume of 2014. And he would know — as CEO of online lingerie retailer turned Halloween hotspot Yandy, Horstman is the man you can thank for a cornucopia of un-Kosher costumes ranging from riffs on fruit (what “sexy watermelon” costume is complete without a bite mark shaped cutout?) to once-wholesome Disney characters (you’ll never look at Frozen’s Olaf the same way again.)

But, apart from Horstman’s faith that “people love lobster,” what could make the recently debuted costume a grand success? Well, not only is it “cute with furry claws” to tug at the heart strings, but it follows a long line of winning “funny food” costumes that show a lot of leg.

“It’s kind of last year’s sexy pizza costume,” Horstman says. While colleagues questioned whether women would want to parade around as a carbohydrate, the 2013 sexy pizza earned a segment on the Daily Show and a trip for the costume’s model to the Playboy Mansion’s Halloween party.

Although, Horstman admits that in spite of viral success, actual sexy pizza sales were only moderate.

The creative costuming industry can be tough. Not all of Horstman’s passion projects take off. In an interview last year, Horstman told Time his dreams of women buying Yandy’s sexy corn costume in bulk to “wear them together and go as a [sexy] corn field” never came to fruition.

But there’s no use dwelling on the past.

This year, Yandy debuted other costumes that Horstman has high hopes for. Like the sexy taco — which is slightly more tasteful than the uber-sexy hamburger, complete with bun headpiece.

“We also just released the three-boobs girl,” Horstman says, touting a viral costume based on a viral news story. “We have a prosthetic middlebreast and a mesh top that she wore. I think, that’s one of the ones where I’m like, if you want to win a costume contest, you should buy this. But I guess that a lot of girls don’t want to win costume contests… Have we sold any?”

“A couple,” answers Yandy marketing director Sarah Chamberlain. “We’ve sold a couple.”

What are consumers thinking?

TIME Education

TIME For Kids Releases New Classroom App

We are excited to share a dynamic teaching tool that combines current events with multimedia content

Can your 5-year-old distinguish between information provided by pictures and information provided by words? Is your 9-year-old able to explain how an author uses evidence to support a claim? Can your 12-year-old analyze the strength of a persuasive debate? These are just a few of the skills students are expected to master in today’s classrooms. It’s a challenging time for teachers, students, and parents. That is why we are thrilled to announce the launch of the TIME For Kids Classroom App. The app is a dynamic teaching tool that combines current events with multimedia content. It helps students in kindergarten through sixth grade acquire literacy skills and gives teachers the resources they need to help students achieve their goals.

This app is two years in the making: In research sessions and classroom visits, teachers told us they needed a tablet app that could deliver a wide range of tools and resources. They told us that

* The app had to provide authentic, informational text to accommodate learners at different skill levels, giving students a window on the world while building knowledge and vocabulary and complementing curriculum;

* Activities, maps, and charts had to be interactive, grabbing and holding kids’ attention;

* Features needed to encourage critical thinking. Text and videos had to spark class discussions and debate, and allow students to interact with their peers;

* The app had to supply teachers with resources, including planning guides and standards-aligned lessons;

* And teachers also needed an easy-to-access assessment tool to allow them to track student progress and pinpoint student needs.

One more thing: teachers insisted the app be fun, tapping into students’ curiosity and love of technology.

Our innovative solution to their requests is an app that has two separate views for each grade level‑one for teachers and the other for students. In the teacher view, Extra Teacher Content and Common Core State Standard tabs provide educators with top-notch reporting and photographs from time.com, standards-aligned lessons and assessment questions, easy access to student quiz results and progress reports. (Because we are committed to safeguarding student and educator privacy, TIME For Kids will not collect any personal information about students. Instead, we have devised a system that gives each teacher control of student pins and IDs. At the end of every school year, student assessment results will be deleted.)

In the student view, a variety of engaging stories explain complex issues, introduce real-world concerns, and explore topics that kids care about. For example, in this week’s app for grades 5 and 6, we informed readers about Malala Yousafzai’s Nobel Peace Prize, explained why volcanoes erupt, and presented a TFK Kid Reporter interview of student favorite, author Rick Riordan. Each week, students are presented with a debate issue or poll question. They can cast a vote and immediately see how other kids around the country feel about a topic. A recent example: 74% of students polled think kids should be allowed to bring their own devices to school, but fewer than 12% think 8-year-olds should own cell phones. Quizzes embedded in the app allow students to gain confidence by exploring the text and multimedia features for answers. The app has a read-aloud feature for the main story and for a lower-level version of that story. It also includes a Spanish-language translation. Most important: Every step of the way, students are encouraged to engage with each other and to enjoy reading, viewing, listening, participating, and learning.

We are committed to helping students become discerning, lifelong readers and to giving them a deeper, richer understanding of our country and the world. Much is asked of kids today. Much more will be demanded of them as they move on to college and the workforce. We hope the Time For Kids weekly classroom app will help smooth the way. The app is available free through December. We hope you will take a look at the samples of it in the iTunes education store and then encourage your children’s teachers to sign up for it at timeforkids.com/tfkapp.

TIME Culture

Watch Taylor Swift Shut Down ‘Sexist’ Music Critics

Bruno Mars can write about ex-lovers. Why can't T-Swift?

Taylor Swift, a newly outspoken feminist, is defending her decision to write about past relationships. During a Sunday appearance on the Australian radio show Jules, Merrick & Sophie, Swift pointed out that she is unfairly criticized for her lyrics, while men who write about exes are not:

You’re going to have people who are going to say, “Oh, you know, like, she just writes songs about her ex-boyfriends.” And I think frankly that’s a very sexist angle to take. No one says that about Ed Sheeran. No one says that about Bruno Mars. They’re all writing songs about their exes, their current girlfriends, their love life, and no one raises the red flag there.

And unlike some other pop stars (we’re looking at you, Robin Thicke), T-Swift says she tries to keep the identities of the people she’s writing about a secret. “I have a really strict personal policy that I never name names. And so anybody saying that a song is about a specific person is purely speculating.”

So who knows who she’s really singing about in “Out of the Woods.” (Though everyone’s still pretty sure it’s about Harry Styles.)

TIME Crime

Virginia Woman First to Be Charged Under New Revenge Porn Law

She and the victim were allegedly fighting over a boyfriend

A Virginia woman who allegedly posted a naked photograph of her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend has become the first person to be charged under the state’s revenge porn law.

Waynesboro police say Rachel Lynn Craig, 28, admitted she took the image of the 22-year old victim off her ex-boyfriend’s phone and posted it to Facebook. The victim says she took the picture herself and sent it to her boyfriend, and that his ex (the accused) stole the photo and posted it on Facebook. Craig is being charged with one misdemeanor count of “maliciously disseminating a videographic or still image of another person in totally or partially nude state with the intent to coerce, harass or intimidate,” which is what the state of Virginia calls “revenge porn.”

MORE: A New Strategy for Prosecuting Revenge Porn

Virginia passed the new law earlier this year, and it went into effect on July 1. The law stipulates that anybody who disseminates nude or semi-nude content with intent to coerce, harass, or intimidate faces a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Virginia is one of many states to enact revenge porn laws as unauthorized distribution of photos becomes more common. Since 2013, California, New York, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, have also enacted laws to fight revenge porn.

No court date is set in Craig’s case and she hasn’t commented publicly.

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