Tuesday, February 18, 2020


In the modern world, people are glued to their devices anywhere and everywhere. This being the case, they mostly wear headphones so as not to disturb others. However what is this new habit we have acquired doing to our hearing? Do your research and find out. When you are ready write an essay discussing the effects of the use of headphones.
This task was prepared in its entirety by Fırat Akkuş
Familiarize yourself with the issue:

Reading material to make notes on:

Videos to take notes from:

Thursday, January 16, 2020


Some people are born with or develop various forms of disability, which has an impact on their lives. Many such people have said, however, that their biggest problem is not the so called disability but the societal attitude towards them. Do your research and discover the extent of the problem and what can be done about it. You will need to discuss the problem itself and then suggest solutions.
Familiarize yourself with the issue:
·         The impact of beliefs and attitudes towards people with disabilities in Australia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvN1tVeDrOc
·         Attitudes and disability http://www.thrivectr.org/attitudes-and-disability/  Remember to scroll down.
Reading material to make notes on:
·         Past and Present Perceptions Towards Disability: A Historical Perspective http://dsq-sds.org/article/view/3197/3068
·         Changing Attitudes towards People with Disabilities https://www.unicef.org/disabilities/index_66543.html Click on the titles to the left of the screen to read all the articles and watch the related videos.
Videos to watch and take notes from:
·         Attitudes to disability https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jS-rWA0_1OE
·         The truth about growing up disabled https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvNOzJ7x8qQ
·         Let’s change the way we think about disability | Joel Dembe | TEDxMississauga https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFHOCc6Z8Ig
·         Our fight for disability rights and why we're not done yet | Judith Heumann | TEDxMidAtlantic
·         Able Privilege, Re-Conceptualizing Disability: Alan Larson at TEDxSFA

Friday, December 20, 2019


By:  Nicholas Mancall-Bitel
Level of Difficulty: **
1.       Which of the following songs would you have students listen to before reading the introduction? Feel free to check out the lyrics as well.
2.       The substantial changes taking place in children’ brain development and ability to focus can be directly linked to…
3.       What surprising fact does Laura Schad draw attention?
4.       Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAFB2sL01ho Is the advice depicted in this video mirrored in the text or not? How do you know?
5.       Students’ ability to process information is directly linked to the ability to…
6.       Where in the first three paragraphs of the section beginning “The classroom of the future would you place the following:
·         Teachers have started addressing the problem of concentration
·         Some teachers also feel that they should join them if they cannot beat them. As a result,
7.       In what way is drawing parallels between concentration camps and ghettos for example, an effective way of teaching?
8.       Check out the following: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aZ523-HHBg . Why would such an application help promote focus?
9.       What general purpose does the Philadelphia school have in mind when using Lexia? To … (tweak the text) What bonus does using Lexia provide?
10.   Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiqrAKWGJ7A . Taking notes in long hand is better for the student because …………and for the classroom atmosphere because students who take notes in longhand…..(Use the video for the second blank)
11.   We understand from Davis that many experts feel the role of technology in the classroom is revolutionary/ complementary / exemplary /insufficient.
12.   We understand from Date’s warning that the underlying problems in education are/ are not being tackled while pushing for more technology in the classroom.
13.   Which sentence in the section titled “Learn to think” best expresses the take home point of the text?
14.   What misconception concerning Zuckerberg and the Gates and the Sandberg does the writer draw attention to? Tweak the text.
Use all you have learnt to write an essay concerning the extent to which technology should be used in the classroom.
This wonderful text tackles a very topical issue in education and as such should lead to some fruitful discussion. The text presents a balanced argument and the conclusion reached is that a blended approach is best. The main arguments can be easily highlighted as students work on the text and then used for the writing task.
1.       Bob Dylan: The Times They Are a Changing
2.       The impact of smartphones and media multi-tasking
3.       The average teen has the attention span of about 28 seconds
4.       No, Transposing the text to a device doesn’t help
5.       Pay attention
6.       Right at the beginning, at the beginning of the third paragraph
7.       They infuse relevant information into mandated curriculum
8.       It helps teachers engage students in their native media
9.       Help struggling students / It helps bridge the gap between students impacted to varying degrees by technology.
10.   Taking notes in longhand helped students retain information better/ Are involved in the class
11.   Complementary
12.   Are not
13.   While technology undermines some aspects of education, it has also empowered students in unforeseen ways
14.   They were successful because they could code

Friday, November 22, 2019


By: Matthew Wilburn King
Level of Difficulty: **
These documentaries are referred to in the text
·         Chasing Ice https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1wx8ti
·         Chasing Coral https://vimeo.com/229391539
Read the introduction and answer the questions
1.       What is surprising about our reaction to climate change? Although there is ample evidence of the damage being done by climate change,……
2.       The introduction ends on a hopeful/hopeless note. How do you know?
Read the section titled “Brain Biases” and answer the questions
3.       According to Conor Seyle, we are failing to address the issue of climate change because…(There are two answers; find both)
4.       Look back on the three paragraphs you have just read. We understand from the text that our attitude to external threats depends to a large extent on….
5.       What superior ability/ abilities is/ are the brain of man capable of ?
6.       The once useful cognitive ability we posses described above has now become a handicap. The reason is that it…
7.       Which of the cognitive biases listed in the text are the following examples of:
·         The municipality has set up collection points for collecting plastic. You cannot be bothered to take your plastic. You think others are doing it anyway and you won’t make a difference.
·         Fibromyalgia can be treated with Xanax and similar drugs. Yet the same drugs can contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s. The young person opts to take the drug nevertheless
·         You are putting your son through university. He does very badly the first year but you continue paying his tuition, bed and board. He does equally badly the second year. His brother tells you he should leave university and work. You decide to keep pushing him.
8.       What do you think the word “hamstringing” means?
Read the section titled “Evolutionary Upside” and answer the questions
9.       In order to get a law degree in the US, an individual needs to get his BA and then go to law school and even further specialize should he wish to. Similarly an individual wishing to be doctor goes through 6 years of medical school and then specializes. Both individuals have to face roughly 10 years of further education after high school. These two examples prove that we are perfectly capable of…
10.   Consider the previous question and its answer. Why are we failing to address climate change?
11.   The purpose of Exposure Labs in its choice of target group was …
12.   A large company wants to reduce its use of paper. Which of the following would yield more favorable results? Why?
·         Notifying all departments that reducing the use of paper is the new policy decision
·         Pitting departments against each other and posting the result on the company website
·         Pitting the company against another company which has already reduced the use of paper
13.   The business model applied in Japan is the ringi system (find video). In this system even the worker lowest in the company hierarchy can come up with original solutions and speak to managers. In fact it is the worker who actually operates a piece of machinery who is consulted if there is a problem with that machine. Why does this system work so well?
14.   Publicizing nightmare scenarios about the long term effects of climate change have been ineffective because
15.   You have installed solar panels on your roof. You meet all your energy needs but you have energy to spare as well. You feed this into the national grid and get paid for it. This would encourage / wouldn’t encourage your neighbours to go down the same path because…
16.   The writer bases the conclusion he reaches at the end of the text on the facts that…
Discuss the reasons why we are failing to address the issue of climate change
The text provides a fascinating take on why we are failing to tackle the obvious problem of climate change. We have all often wondered why people are so slow to act when we can see the effects of climate change all round us. This text tells you why. Despite the doom and gloom at the beginning, it ends on an optimistic note.
1.       But that information hasn’t been enough to change our behaviours on a scale great enough to stop climate change
2.        No other species has evolved with such an extraordinary capacity to solve it
3.       It isn’t an immediate threat/ it is a complex threat
4.       The way our brains have evolved over the last two million years.
5.       Filtering information/ remembering what is immediately essential and that which is not
6.       Makes it difficult to address complex long-term challenges
7.       The bystander effect, hyperbolic discounting, the sunk cost fallacy
8.       Preventing
9.       Imagining and predicting multiple, complex outcomes and identifying actions needed in the present to achieve desired outcomes in the future and acting on them.
10.   The capacity to plan to ensure a future outcome breaks down when large-scale collective action is needed
11.   To avoid/ to circumvent/ prevent etc the bystander effect OR not to succumb to the bystander effect
12.   The second, due to the social comparison effect
13.   Because of the endowment effect
14.   Humans are more likely to change behaviour when challenges are framed positively, instead of negatively
15.   Would encourage / because behavior change has been incentivized at a local level
16.   We have evolved to innovate / we have evolved to have the communication and technology to pass these innovations on

Saturday, October 26, 2019


Public protests have always existed, and the reasons are universally known. They are usually a way of drawing attention to a perceived wrong and demanding change. Never have they been so widespread as in the autumn of 2019, which is when this task was prepared. Below, you will find the main causes of public protests and examples from the afore mentioned period. You will need to research each case in order to be able to do justice to the writing task. It is hoped that while doing so, you will develop a keen interest in world events and continue to follow what is happening globally. Should you attempt this task in the years to come, you will need to scour the press to discover appropriate examples. It is suggested you give yourself free rein and allow this writing task to be as long as it needs to be.
Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays: https://theessayarchive.blogspot.com/
Here are the main causes of public protests and the names of the countries where they occurred in October 2019:
·         Political: London , Barcelona
·         Erosion of human rights: Hong Kong
·         Fraudulent elections: Bolivia
·         Economic inequality, cost of living: Chile
·         Corruption: Iraq
When writing cause and effect essays, it is customary to suggest solutions in the conclusion so here are some suggestions:
·         Social and economic reforms (Diversifying the economy and the like)

·         Young and innovative leaders

Thursday, October 24, 2019


By Luke Kemp
Level of difficulty: ***
·         Joseph Tainter talks Energy, Collapse, and Society  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KeY1dIPi8k

1.       The case of The Roman Empire is presented as an example of…
2.       All the civilizations listed in the graphic are examples of civilizations which crumbled due to…
3.       How would you replace “they are” in the sentence “I would argue that they are.” ?
4.       Watch the following to be able to understand the text: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVJmHDUgUIs What conclusion can be reached concerning civilizations based on this video?
5.       Why is “Our tightly-coupled, globalised economic system more likely to make crisis spread”? Refer to the video you watched for question 4.
6.       How can we prevent our civilizations from collapsing? By…
7.       The cases of the Anazai, the Tiwanaku civilisation, the Akkadians, the Mayan, the Roman Empire all prove that……
8.       Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEp8qesTVg0  The story of Easter Island Proved that…
9.       How would you replace the phrase “This inequality” in the following sentence: “This inequality undermines collective solidarity and political turbulence follows.”?Write the sentence out in full.
10.   How can the section titled “Complexity” best be summarized? What is it precisely that causes society to collapse?
11.   The collapse of the Byzantine Empire is an example of an empire which collapsed due to …
12.   Study the chart titled “Danger Signs”. Which of the following could be added to the discussion of this chart: In short, the overall picture doesn’t look too gloomy/ presents a grim outlook / is not as bad as we may expect/ is worse than we may have expected.
13.   Watch: https://news.cgtn.com/news/3d516a4e336b7a4d/share_p.html Why did Saudi Arabia launch its “Vision 2030” initiative? Why can’t Saudi Arabia continue as it is? Because if it did, it would collapse due to lack of…
14.   Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-fgsUE42IE The innovations described in the video could protect against collapse because they can…
15.   Look at the answer you gave to question 12. Would you revise your answer now? If so how?
16.   It is stated in the text that “Any collapse – any fall from the ladder – risks being permanent” in the case of modern civilization. Why is this the case? Because…
17.   How is the situation modern civilization finds its self in described in the text? It is described as…
18.   What is the take home point made in the text?
Use all the information you have acquired to write an essay describing the reasons why modern society could collapse.

This highly topical text draws on history to outline the dangers faced my modern civilization and the reasons why its fall might be much more catastrophic than that of previous civilizations. All the points that are made are supported with examples. I have added videos to some of the questions both to make that section of the text easier to follow and to add variety.
1.       A civilization that took its own life
2.        A rapid and enduring loss of population, identity and socio-economic complexity
3.       I would argue that the lessons of agrarian empires are applicable to our post-18th Century period of industrial capitalism
4.       Collapse may be a normal phenomenon for civilisations, regardless of their size and stage
5.       As any technical system grows in complexity and connectedness, the probability of cascading failure increases
6.       By examining the trends that preceded historic collapses and see how they are unfolding today.
7.       When climatic stability changes, the results can be disastrous.
8.       Collapse can occur when societies overshoot the carrying capacity of their environment.
9.       Cheap workers and a top heavy society undermines collective solidarity and political turbulence follows.
10.   Societies eventually collapse under the weight of their own accumulated complexity and bureaucracy/ the weight of their own accumulated complexity and bureaucracy
11.   An external shock OR war
12.   Presents a grim outlook
13.   To restructure its economy to turn the biggest oil producer in the world into a global industrial conglomerate/ economic diversity
14.   mitigate against pressures such as climate change
15.   Yes, there are some reasons to be optimistic, thanks to our ability to innovate and diversify away from disaster.
16.   The higher you climb, the larger the fall
17.   A progress trap
18.   We will only march into collapse if we advance blindly. We are only doomed if we are unwilling to listen to the past