Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Level of difficulty: ***


·         Think back on a time when you failed at something; what was your initial reaction?

·         Did your mood change in any way after a little time had elapsed?

·         In retrospect, do you feel this failure was useful in some way or was it a set back?

·         What is the correct attitude to failure in your view?

Your teacher will now read the first two pages of the text out loud to you in sections. These two pages include a lot of examples of failure and the consequences thereof. Discuss your views as you hear about each case. The questions below start at the top of page three of the print version.

QUESTIONS (from the top of page three: “We do know that learning is error driven…”)

1.       Read the information concerning Paul MacCready. What was his immediate reason for courting failure? What was his long term goal in courting failure?

2.       What overall generalization can we make concerning failure based on MacCready’s story?

3.       What does “it” in the phrase “it doesn’t make sense” in the last line of paragraph 2 refer to?

4.       What personality changes are brought about by failure?

5.       According to the information provided in paragraph 5, what does “equanimity” mean?

6.       Have another look at paragraph 5 and state clearly what advantage equanimity in a member of staff has for a company?

7.       Have a look at paragraph 6 and state clearly what you think “categorically” means.

8.       Read paragraph 7 and 8 carefully. The publication of the book “How to Get Divorced by Thirty” is proof that…………………………………………….. (There are two alternative answers; find them both)

9.       Read paragraphs 9, 10 and11 of this text. Now state what you think the most important advantage of failure is? (Be general)

10.   Which type of person, a ruminator or a resilient, controls his emotions, adjusts his thinking and recalibrates his beliefs? What do you think the words ruminator and resilient mean roughly?

11.   At the beginning of paragraph 15, the writer says “Pandolfini teaches his students this calming sense of perspective”. What does “this” refer to in this phrase and what does it enable the prospective chess players to do? Question suggested by Berna, Emre, Betül Sena, Sinem, Ayça, Serhan and Büşra

12.   Read paragraphs 16, 17, and 18. What view of intelligence would a ruminator hold? There is a positive correlation between resilience and ………………………………………………………………….. Question suggested by Sinem, Ayça, Büşra, Serhan, Güner, Kadir, Melih, Çağatay, Öykü, Tuna and Ferhunde.

13.   Read paragraph 19, carefully and state what you think “sweet pot” means in this context? Based on a question by Elif and Hakan.

14.   What does “This” refer to in the phrase “This is how we learn to solve problems…” in paragraph 20? Question suggested by Ayça, Sinem, Büşra and Serhan.

15.   Now read on as far as “Nine Ways to Fail Better”.  Why did Phil Schultz get such a positive reaction after the publication of failure? Based on a question by Kadir, Melih and Güner.

It is suggested that you stop at this point, discuss your answers and try and predict what the solutions are going to be.

 QUESTIONS (Page six: Nine ways to fail better)

1.       If an embarrassment has made for an entertaining story for someone, what has he succeeded in doing?

2.       Read the section titled “Join the Club”. People were only able to start posting productive hints once …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

3.       Read the section titled “Feel Guilt not Shame”. If you were the head of the planning department in a large company and the plans you produced resulted in failure for three consecutive years, what would you need to do?

4.       Read “Cultivate Optimism”. The quote by Hamlet seems to support the view that………..(Be very specific

5.       Margaret Evans said “This turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me”. What does “this refer to in this sentence?

6.       Read the story of Gilbert Brim’s father. How exactly did his father avoid feeling a failure?

7.       Read “Harness the Bridget Jones Effect”. In your opinion, what advantage of journalism may have helped the middle aged engineers who had lost their jobs find reemployment?

8.       Read don’t blame yourself. Is there a positive correlation or a negative correlation between depression and attribution?

9.       Read the section “Act”. What does “it” refer to in the sentence “Seize it”?


Published on Psychology Today; http://www.psychologytoday/print/29564

It is suggested that you read the first two pages out loud to the students, one instance of failure at a time, and discuss each one. This will enable them to predict some of the content of the text and thus iron out some possible problems. It will also be novel pre reading activity. The questions start at the top of page three (We do know that learning is error driven).  As you see from the question sheet, some of the questions have been written by the students. You could do the same. After all there is no rule saying the whole of a text needs to be handled in the same way. My thanks go out to the students who contributed.


1.       He wanted to perfect the aircraft he was designing or he wanted to learn; he wanted to win the Kremer prize.

2.       The brain feeds on failure or we are acutely sensitive to…( ask them to find both for a change)

3.       The term trial and success.

4.       One becomes tempered.

5.       We learn that trauma is survivable so we don’t plunge too deeply following setbacks. Nor conversely do we soar too high on our successes.

6.       They will perform but not get emotionally attached to losses.

7.       Complete, all encompassing.

8.       Guilt can be beneficial; guilt was actually productive.

9.       A shift from pursuing the kinds of happiness that flare briefly to the kinds of happiness that endure.

10.   Resilients. Ruminators wallow in self pity and resilients with stand failure.

11.   Putting the game behind them when they lose.  Succeed or to learn to play better.

12.   The view that intelligence is fixed. The view that intelligence is malleable or the view that the brain is plastic.

13.   Ideal balance.

14.   Facing or dealing with manageable risk.

15.   Because they had an entree to talk about it.

It is suggested that you stop here and discuss the answers thus far and discuss the possible solutions they think the writer might suggest before bashing on.


1.       Stepping back for fresh perspective.

2.       They had vented themselves out.

3.       Own the failure, see what you can learn from it and move on.

4.       Optimism is the most important of the seven learnable skills of resilience.

5.       Being let go.

6.       He lowered his sights when that was realistically required/ he revised his outdated goals. ( ask them to find both)

7.       The fact that it boosted social skills…

8.       Positive

9.       The opportunity


You might want to let this slide as they will have been obsessing with the text for ages but should you wish to, an opinion essay where they state to what extent they agree with the writer may be nice.

Friday, December 16, 2011


By Tom Geoghegan

Story from BBC NEWS:


Published: 2008/03/05 14:35:24 GMT


A speed reading exercise or a nasty search reading or a careful search reading! You have two minutes per question. Can you rise to the challenge? You should not exceed 20 minutes tops; if you do, you lose the challenge. Level of difficulty: ***

Answer the following questions:

1.      What seems to be the major criticism concerning the modern child?


2.      What does ‘that’ refer to in the phrase ‘The Boy Scout movement was founded to address that’?


3.      There is a major difference between the way adults treated their children in the Edwardian era and now. Parents and other adults no longer resort to _________________________ .

4.      ______________________________________________________________ partly to address the problem of child labour; however, it didn’t solve the problem completely.

5.      Pre-marital sex was not common among Edwardian youngsters for two main reasons.

a)      _________________________________________

b)      _________________________________________

6.      An example of the change in child-parent relations in the post-war period is that ______________________________________________________________________.

7.      a) The 60’s and 70’s are described in the text as ________________________________.

b) What were the two reasons for the above description?


8.      How was the communist threat countered in the 60’s and 70’s?


9.      What characteristic of ‘the more sexual culture’ of the 90’s creates anxiety?


10.  Read the section on the 80’s through carefully and decide whether the fact that 50% of parents believe that childhood is over at 11 is justified (The second paragraph). Prove your answer with information from the text and try to explain the reasons.


  1. The fact that children act like adults at an alarmingly early age.
  2. A moral and physical decline among the youth
  3. Physical punishment
  4. Schooling until ten became compulsory, and this was raised to fourteen in 1918.
  5. Social pressure and Lack of opportunity
  6. Children kept their earnings (rather than giving it to their parents)
  7. The age of mass consumption; There was a newly emancipated working class and young people had cash and optimism in abundance.
  8. By strengthening the family
  9. The fact that it was an aspirational not an educational version of sex.
  10. No. Home entertainment means kids are kept indoors; parents subsidize their children to a very late age. Dependency is a sign of childhood.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


By: Benedict Carey, July 5, 2010
Published: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/06/health/06mind.html?pagewanted=all

Level of difficulty *


1.       How often do you tend to lose your temper?

2.       How do you feel afterwards?

3.       What reaction do you get when you lose your temper?

4.       Read the title of text. What do you think blowing your top means?

5.       How can blowing your top be a good thing? Is the writer being serious or not?


Ask a UT Psychologist (Suppressing Emotions and Aggression) -- Art Markman



1.       Which of the statements below best summarizes the first paragraph?

*Both president Obama and businessmen are good at keeping their tempers.

* Both President Obama and businessmen should keep their tempers.

*Those working on oil rigs are too good at keeping their tempers.

*Keeping your temper is a very good thing.

*Always maintaining your cool isn’t such a good thing

          2. What is the potential downside of suppressed emotions? Use your own words.

          3. In the phrase “lose it”, what does “it” refer to?

          4. Read the quote by James J. Gross. What phenomenon are his words an explanation of?

          5. Why have untamed passions been mostly studied thus far?

          6. Which of the statements below best expresses the conclusion we can draw from p.4?

               * People exert too much self control which makes emotionally charged situations go wrong

               * The subconscious techniques people use in emotionally charged situations make things

                  go wrong.

               *People need to become better aware of the techniques they use in emotionally charged

                 situations to prevent problems.

           7   It is stated in the text that both……………………… and …………………………… help us to manage

                our temperament.

          8.   Read the Stanford University Study carefully. Were the people involved in the study adults

                or not? How do you know?  What seems to be the disadvantage of too much suppression?

          9.   Why exactly does too much suppression seem to make forming new friendships hard?


 10. Read the study conducted by Derek Isaacowitz carefully. Which sentence in this section best

    expresses the conclusion we can draw?

11.  Read the experiment about the video game. Why exactly did the subjects act the way they did?

12. Doctor Gross says expressing the real thing at the right time and at the right intensity is a

      a tough job. State two reasons why this is so.

13. What kind of people get into trouble socially? Be very specific.


After discussing the views expressed in the text, write an essay or paragraph explaining to what extent you agree with the writer


Benedict Carey; July 5, 2010

The text is a refreshing analysis of the benefits to all concerned of expressing you feelings – including anger and displeasure – openly. It also reiterates that such an attitude leads to more and better friendships and improved social relations. It is a little gem. My thanks go to Hamide Koz who sent me the text. For those of you who know the book, it is sort of beginning College reading 2 level- say after the first two chapters.


  1. The last one; if they have any sense they will see it clearly stated at the beginning of paragraph two; a logical place to look.
  2. People could take it out on loved ones.
  3. Your temper. Students need to use their own words.
  4. Emotion regulation.
  5. They define mental disorders.
  6. The last one.
  7. Growing up and the development of the prefrontal cortex
  8. Adults; they were adept at masking horror. Stress.
  9. Such people miss opportunities for friendship.
  10. Older people tend to regulate their emotions faster and are not as motivated to explore negative information, to engage in negative images as younger people.
  11. They were priming themselves to feel emotions they believed would be most useful to them.
  12. It means throwing the switch on two psychological systems at once. If that process interrupts expression even a little, people notice.
  13. The ones who are inflexible and stick to one of the three strategies: concealing, adjusting, tolerating


Alla Katsnelson

Published online 8 July 2010/ Nature /doi:10.1038/news.2010342

Level of difficulty **


1.       How important are hobbies, interests and excitement in people’s lives?

2.       How important is trying something new or taking on a challenge?

3.       How do the above make you feel?

4.       Do you think the effect is only physical?

5.       Read the title of the text. How do you think an interesting environment helps?


1.       Read the studies done with mice as far as “Unexpected effects” and answer the following three questions: What is the immediate conclusion we can draw from this study? What is the ultimate conclusion we can draw from this study? What is the take-home point about stress mentioned in this study?

2.       Look back at the section you have just read and explain in your own words what “enriched”, “restrain” and “reduction” mean. There are plenty of contextual clues so no dictionaries.

3.       Read the section titled “Unexpected effects”. What does “its” in the first line of this section refer to?

4.       During and his colleagues wanted to know “why the natural history of cancer differed so dramatically from one individual to the next”. What seem to be the two reasons according to this section?

5.       The two reasons stated above are closely connected. What is the connection?

6.       Read “The health challenge”. In the second paragraph in this section, John Hall says “This is a novel finding”. What is he referring to? Be very precise.

7.       What is the take-home point concerning tumor growth in humans gleaned from the findings concerning mice?

8.       Read the last paragraph of the text. What typical features of a concluding paragraph does it have? What phrases you personally start the conclusions in your essays is lacking. What is the take-home point in that case?


Now write a short summary of the text having discussed organization with your teacher.


Alla Katsnelson


You may be forgiven for being tempted to just turn to something else on reading the title. Doing so, however, would be a great mistake.  Despite not being a science graduate, I found the text riveting as it proves what we seem to know instinctively anyway. The text itself also lends itself to some serious comprehension questions, which is why I have given it two stars despite the relative simplicity of the passage. For those of you who know the book, it is sort of mid-College Reading 2 level. My thanks go to Hamide Koz who sent me the text.

  1. A mild boost in stress hormones seems to be what keeps the cancer at bay by switching on a molecular pathway that restrains tumor growth. / Making home more complicated increases stress in mice but keeps them healthier. / A little stress may be no bad thing.
  2. Made richer, control or inhibit, a drop
  3. Environmental enrichment's
  4. Reduced levels of the hormone leptin; a dramatic increase in the expression of a gene encoding the signaling protein BDNF.
  5. The action of stress hormones
  6. That enrichment can reduce tumor growth
  7. Humans could benefit from a more active life style – not just physically but socially and cognitively.
  8. Future applications of these findings. Phrases like in conclusion, to sum up and the like. These phrases are by no means necessary.


The discovery concerning an enriched environment/ what physical changes took place in mice in these environments / what exactly enrichment means / the significance of all this for treating cancer in humans.