Thursday, August 6, 2015


Do your research and tell this fascinating story of deception based on an idea by Ian Fleming who ysed to work for British intelligence. Make sure to include the purpose and consequences as well.
Meet the main characters:
·         “Operation Mincemeat”  
Reading material to make notes on:
·         “Operation Mincemeat”
·         “What was operation mincemeat”
·         “Mincemeat and the imaginary man”  
BBC Documentary

·         “Operation mincemeat – WW II deception prior to invading Italy”

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Do your research and tell the intriguing story of the Mayerling incident. Explain the background, what actually happened and the impacts. Do your research in the order suggested.
Meet the main characters:
  • The Crown Prince Rudolf and Mary Vetsera
·         “Mayerling Incident”
Reading material to make notes on
·         “Morbid Monday: The unhappy prince and the dead baroness”

Monday, August 3, 2015


The family, the smallest social unit of society, starts out with the union of a man and a woman in most cases and is formalized in a wedding ceremony during which vows are exchanged before witnesses. This ceremony, the marriage ceremony, legalizes the union and the couple enter a new phase of their life aiming to stay together ‘till death do them part’. Such an undertaking is very serious and should not be taken lightly which brings into question the ideal age for marriage. The age for marriage has risen in tandem with industrialization and welfare levels from the mid teens to the mid thirties. The current later age for marriage, though dictated by circumstances, makes far more sense due to various reasons.

In early agrarian communities,  where the average lifespan was far shorter than it is today, the mid teens were considered quite late enough to get married. The advantages of such an early union were manifold: debts might be considered paid, property was kept in the family, and promiscuity was prevented. Considering that infant mortality rates were high, it was also important that the young couple get on with the serious business of reproduction early on. As for getting along, not making a go of marriage was not an option; the marriage vows were taken very seriously indeed. Come their late thirties or forties, people were considered and looked middle aged as they were worn out by years of hard labor – modern conveniences didn’t exist in those days. Conditions have changed however and with them, the age of marriage.

Modern welfare societies enable individuals to do much more during a lifetime and give them far more choice the average lifespan having doubled. People now take longer in school graduating from college in their late teens and then go on to university which might possibly be followed by graduate work. A spouse and troop of kids would make all this quite impossible; imagine your modern high school student meeting his wife and two kids in the school canteen where there is a play area for kids. Young people are no longer considered ready for life in their mid teens; people can afford to be far more honest and realistic and admit that they are still kids at this age. Although some people still work on the land, even agriculture is less labor intensive and has become mechanized; hence, kids can go to college without causing problems for Dad. The agrarian communities having left their places to modern industrialized societies, jobs need to be secured after graduation and adequate salaries need to be earned before fathers in law can be approached. In short, young people would have to be mad to even contemplate early marriage. What is more, their parents would also have a fit if they did.

Obligation comes with an added bonus though: the extended period of growing up, receiving a good education and becoming mature generally means that young people are psychologically really ready for marriage. They know their own minds, they know what they need and what they want and most importantly make their own decisions. This is very different and a lot better than the past when young people were told what they needed and wanted and decisions were taken for them for all kinds of practical reasons. Parents are present in advisory capacity in the modern world but not even that sometimes. It is no longer two families that get married either; it is two individuals. All this has put an end to the possibility of a lot of miserable marriages.

In short, there is no cloud without a silver lining: old traditions and with them early marriage is gone but hopefully, happier marriages where children are brought up by the parents themselves and not the extended family are in. Marriage is, after all, the union of two people meant to last for a life time so young people should be able to take the plunge when they are good and ready and not a moment before.


The more complex version
Representative democracy, currently the most common form of government, requires the electorate to express their opinion on who should voice their opinions and stand in for them in parliament. This is achieved by means of elections, which are held at regular intervals – usually every four years. Elections determine which candidates will be returned to parliament as M.P.’s; they also determine which political party is to form the government. Sometimes, however, no party is able to gain enough votes to form a government on their own in which case cooperation between parties becomes an option. This form of team work is called a coalition government and although sometimes inevitable, has certain advantages and disadvantages.

There is a lot to be said for coalition governments the most important being that they are more democratic as they represent a wider spectrum of public opinion. Left wing and right wing parties may have to face each other across a table and negotiate to determine a compromise all can agree on. This, in turn, ensures that extreme views leave their place to policies that all may agree on. Free universal health care may, for instance, be a step too far for a right wing party but free healthcare which exists in tandem with private health care may be acceptable. Undeniably, everyone stands to gain from such cooperation: the poor get the free service they desire while those who can afford it go private. Provided people are prepared to sit down, talk and listen, a lot can be achieved through coalition governments as many countries which have had nothing but this form of government for decades prove.

Things don’t always go so smoothly though and various roadblocks along the way may cause people to despair of coalitions. In an ideal world, one would expect members of parliament who swear an oath to uphold democracy and serve the people to the best of their ability todo so yet sometimes they refuse to compromise. Party policies which seem to be set in stone cannot be given up or even discussed; an attitude that leads to a stalemate. Democrats, for example, have always defended environmentalists as opposed to industry, while Republicans have been staunch supporters of industry denying the very existence of climate change. If the two sides refuse to give way from these positions, the coalition will not work. Alternatively, discussions may be prolonged delaying valuable decisions. Although eventually fruitful, the length of the negotiations may create problems.

In short, where there is good will and a genuine desire to make them work, coalitions can be a viable form of government. However, where there is no wish to negotiate and compromise; in short, where there is no attempt at team work, coalitions will be stumbling blocks preventing the smooth running of the state. Which of the two options will occur depends on the country, the parties involved and their goals.

The simple version
Representative democracy is the most common form of government in the world. In democratic countries there are regular elections. The purpose / aim of the elections is to choose members of parliament. Elections also determine the winning party and this party forms the government. Sometimes no party wins. In this case, team work is necessary. Parties have to work together and form the government. These governments are called coalition governments. There are various advantages and disadvantages of having coalition governments.

It can be said that coalition governments have various advantages.  First of all, coalition governments are more democratic because they represent more political views in parliament. Parties with different opinions have to negotiate: they have to listen to each other, they have to talk to each other and they have to find a solution. The left wing and right wing parties can agree on increasing the minimum wage for instance. The left wing parties want a big increase and the right wing parties want a small increase but they can come to an agreement. If each side is ready to negotiate with each other, coalitions can be successful.

On the other hand, there are also many roadblocks which prevent coalitions from working. First of all, the work of the state should carry on without delay. However, if political parties cannot compromise, they cannot take a decision and everything stops. For example, the nationalist party in Turkey supports the idea of military action against Kurdish minorities whereas left wing parties support negotiations. These views will never change; no agreement will be reached and no solution will be found. As a result, everybody will lose. Another example is long discussions. No negotiations mean everything stops. This means the country suffers economically. For example; employees at Arcelik are protesting because decisions are not being taken. In short, disagreements can cause serious problems for coalitions.

All in all, in coalitions people with two different views have to find a middle way to find a solution for the good of the country. Sometimes they can sit at the table and compromise whereas sometimes they cannot because of various reasons. However, they should leave their individual interests to maintain the coalition. Thus, the parliament becomes more democratic and the country benefits.

This essay was written by: BORA BAYRAK and DÜCANE DEMİRTAŞ

Sunday, July 19, 2015


The two short reading activities below focus on the pleasure of going out and doing things alone; something I personally greatly enjoy. Watch the videos, tackle the two reading tasks and write your essay where you share your own views.
“People avoid going out by themselves because they think they’ll appear antisocial, but it turns out they’ll end up having a lot more fun than they expected”
By: Joe Pinsker
Level of Difficulty: **
Study the following and make some notes before moving on to the reading tasks proper
·         “12 Things everybody should do alone at least once”
·         “How to be alone”
1.       The opening of restaurants like Eenmaal should not really come as a surprise because……………..and ………………………………….
2.       What self destructive decision to some people make about doing fun things?
3.       What misconception did Ratner and Hamilton’s test subjects entertain? Be very precise. You will need to tweak the text.
4.       The negative social reaction to doing things alone that causes reluctance is the fear that………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
5.       The above fear makes no sense at all because there was a close correlation / a positive correlation / little correlation / no correlation between the negative labels these same people expected to be given when doing things alone and those they themselves applied to similar people.
6.       Most people seemed to feel that going to a café or restaurant alone was more acceptable if they could feel that………………………………………………………………………………………
“Sitting solitary through a summer blockbuster has its perils. But that’s O.K.”
By: Chris Le
Level of Difficulty: **
·         “The case for going to the movies alone”
1.       Why does the writer go to the movies?
·         To be alone
·         To listen to other people
·         To watch a movie
·         To meet people
2.       The writer feels that it is strange / unusual / unnecessary / unpleasant / pathetic / fun to be accompanied to the movies.
3.       According to the information in the text, which of the activities would not be “immune to stigma”?
Going to a football match, going to the mall, going to a pop concert, going on a picnic in the park, going to the school cafeteria, going to the launderette
4.       Why is the writer happy to go to the movies alone but not to a party where he doesn’t know anyone? After all, he doesn’t know anyone else at the cinema either. Use your own words.
5.       The writer implies that whether the lone movie goer is likely to enjoy a solo visit to a movie theatre in the summer or not depends on………………………………………..
Think about what you have watched and read. Then write about the advantages and disadvantages of doing things alone.
I have always felt sorry for people who shut themselves up in their homes because they have no one to accompany them to various places. I have personally always greatly enjoyed my solo outings despite a wide circle of friends and actually crave the me time these excursions to cafes, restaurants and the like provide the opportunity for. This being the case, I couldn’t resist these two little texts.  Hopefully, there will be some converts.
  1. Today more than a quarter of American households are home to just one person and the median age at which Americans get married has reached a record high.
2.       They decide to not do things all the time just because they are alone
3.       They predicted low levels of enjoyment while strolling through a nearby art gallery alone
4.       People would think they didn’t have any friends
5.       Little correlation
6.       They could be productive; OR the experience was an accomplishment
1.       To watch a movie
2.       Unnecessary
3.       Going to a football match, going to a pop concert, going for a picnic in the park
4.       The purposes are different. Watching a movie is an individual experience and doesn’t have to be shared; the purpose of a party is to socialize.

5.       The film; The type of film

Friday, July 17, 2015


“In some jobs, being in touch with emotions is essential. In others, it seems to be a detriment. And like any skill, being able to read people can be used for good or evil”
By: Adam Grant
Level of Difficulty: ***
Watch all three of the videos below in the order they have been presented and make notes:
1.       According to the information in paragraph one, which of the following speeches would not require emotional intelligence? You may need to do a little research first.
·         Obama’s speech when he won the presidency
·         Churchill’s speech to the British people on the eve of WWII
·         David Cameron’s presenting of the party program to parliament
·         The Queen’s Christmas message of 2014
·         Julius Caesar’s speech beginning “Friends, Romans countrymen lend me your ears”
2.       Adolph Hitler tried to exploit the power of emotions in order to…………………………………
3.       The purpose for teaching emotional intelligence is to foster: mark the ones that fit.
·         More empathy with others
·         More charity and donations
·         More voluntary work
·         More  future opportunities
·         More sympathy for others
·         More self interest overall
·         More concern for others
·         More individualism overall
4.       A politician or a leader who is an expert in emotional skills has a distinct advantage because if he wishes to he can………………………………………….An example to the latter is the German people’s giving up their democratic rights and giving Hitler absolute power in a referendum.
5.       Why could the “awestruck effect” also be called the “dumbstruck effect”? Because the audience………………………………………………………………………………………………….
6.       The manager of the computer company studied by Gideon Kunda is an example of a/an…….
7.       The purpose of the same manager in praising the project yet distancing the organization from it was to undermine his colleague. We know this because he wished to guarantee that………..
8.       The purpose of people who adapt their emotions according to their surroundings is to……….
9.       The manager of the computer company studied by Gideon Kunda and Body Shop founder Anita Roddick are similar to each other in that they both ………………………………… but different in that ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
10.   Nurses, teachers, social workers and care givers are examples of professionals who benefit / don’t benefit from emotional intelligence because …………………………………………………………….
11.    Why would emotional intelligence be a handicap for a mechanic? Because:
·         His attention would be divided
·         He wouldn’t be concentrating
·         He would get worked up
·         He would endanger himself
·         All of the above
·         Other: please specify
12.    A manager with any sense would value staff with high levels of emotional intelligence in their company because they would……………………………………………………………………………..
13.   The difference between a hot headed person and an emotionally intelligent person is that the latter is able to …………………………………………………………………………………………………..
14.   Who would the manager be more likely to listen to? The hot headed person or the emotionally intelligent person? Why?
15.   The example of the self assessment of emotional intelligence is provided to prove that a lot of the research done on the subject is……………………………………………………………………………
Use all that you have learnt to write about the up sides and the down sides of emotional intelligence
Some texts, because of their style and content, allow me to write the kind of comprehension questions any teacher would dream of; this is just such a text. The questions are tough and they require full understanding of the text; nuances, shades of meaning and all. The task is also practical in that the answers to the questions are clear cut, brief and direct. There is an added bonus: the text has a wow factor and the task will lead to a good writing task.
1.       The second and the third
2.       An absolutely spell binding public speaker
3.       One, two, three, five and seven fit.
4.       Motivate people to act against their best interests (This answer fits with the example that has been provided)
5.       Stops thinking critically (and just emote)
6.       A Machiavellian with high emotional intelligence
7.       The company’s founder blamed the colleague
8.       Fabricate favorable impressions of themselves
9.       Use emotional intelligence; Anita Roddick doesn’t use it (emotional intelligence) for nefarious purposes
10.   Benefit; these jobs require extensive attention to emotions
11.   His attention would be divided ( He wouldn’t be concentrating is too strong)
12.   Challenge the status quo by speaking up with ideas and suggestions for improvement
13.    Keep his anger in check and reason
14.   The emotionally intelligent person because his ability to express enthusiasm would help him avoid threatening the leader
15.   Fatally flawed

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Maximum productivity and thus maximum profits is the ultimate aim of all businesses. This would be relatively easy if the businesses were peopled with cyborgs but they are not; they are peopled with human beings with emotions and limitations. The Nazis tried to ignore these limitations and worked detainees to death and then replaced them; this was a method that worked but which cannot be applied in the modern world. The solution in the current times is paying closer attention to business practices and human psychology.

Efficiency brings greater productivity and higher profits and starts with reducing bureaucracy and cutting red tape. There is nothing that slows down the production process like red tape as demonstrated by the state sector in many countries and the former Soviet Union. The first step to reducing bureaucracy lies in keeping channels of communication open as in the Japanese ringi system, where the worker on the factory floor can access and talk to the manager. When the right people are given a free reign and not hampered by red tape, work will get done much faster.

A second business practice to avoid is denying change. New ways of doing things more efficiently are continually being found and refusing to consider these innovations will mean bankruptcy in the long run. The most obvious example to this is mechanization and robot technology, which has revolutionized the factory floor. No business can expect to compete in the modern world without the latest computer technology: businesses are global enterprises now and potential customers may be on the other side of the world. Such companies need to be able to arrange conference calls in cyberspace or Skype to be able to do business. The office of the future is a purely digital one where there is no paper. In short, keeping up with the times is vital for a company to realize its full potential.

Last but not least there is the human factor. People need to feel happy in order to reach peak performance and cracking the proverbial whip will have the adverse effect. Managers and supervisors should treat staff like human beings and show sympathy and understanding when needed. They should show appreciation and reward progress or good work; they should take a hands on approach when tackling problems and not hesitate to sit down and discuss issues with members of staff. Some companies have recreation rooms, ping pong tables – Yahoo – and policies like dress down Friday to keep people relaxed and happy. In short, managers need to respect their employees if they want them to be productive.

Increasing productivity doesn’t mean pushing staff and raising target figures it requires a knowledge of good business practices and human psychology. The sooner managers get their heads out of the clouds and make a genuine effort to reach their full potential the better.