Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Watch the following video, take notes and then write your essay.

Thanks are due to Pelin for this wonderful and informative video. If you find something interesting like this, send it in so others may enjoy it too.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Watch the video twice, first without subtitles and take notes and then with subtitles to check your notes.  Then use your notes to write an essay on the topic. If you discover interesting videos or design activities of your own, send them in so others can enjoy them too!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


There are vast differences in standard of living and quality of life between western countries and the third world, which has prompted the push to supply aid. Yet is supplying aid to these countries the best and only way to help them? Are there other better ways of giving them a helping hand? Is it possible that giving these countries international aid also has disadvantages? Do your research and write your essay.
Reading material to annotate
1.       “Advantages and Disadvantages of Aid”
Make sure to click page 2 and 3 to get the full picture. Page 1 can be used for the introduction; page 2 and 3 for the main body
2.       “Giving Aid to the Poor Countries is Hardly an Act of Generosity”
3.       “Advantages and Disadvantages Of Giving Aid to Poor Countries”
4.       “The Advantages of Giving International Aid to Poor Countries”
      "Where Does Aid Money Really Go and What Is It Spent on?"
Videos to watch and make notes on
1.       “Don’t Give a Goat for Christmas; The Aid System Doesn’t Work” Copy paste:   This wonderful video approaches the issue from another perspective
2.        “The Danger of a Single Story”

3.       “Want to Help Africa? Do Business Here” This wonderful video suggests solutions.
4. "Action for Africa"

Thursday, July 18, 2013


The world of sports has been rocked by scandal after scandal as many famous and respected athletes tested positive for banned substances. As the industry catering to enhancing the performance of athletes grows so does our knowledge of the damage this stuff does. Why, in that case, does the problem persist? Do your research and write the essay
Reading material to annotate
  1. “A Brief History of Anti doping” This text will provide you with information you can use in the introduction.
2.       “Doping and Sports”
3.       “What Are the Dangers of Using Performance Enhancing Drugs?”
4.       “Doping in Sports and Its Spread to at Risk Populations: An International Review”
5.       Chapters 3 and 4 in These chapters provide detailed information concerning the causes; it is the best source I could find.
Videos to watch and make notes on
1.       “Doping to Win” There is a transcript of the conversation available if you click transcript

2.       “Steroids Documentary”


Many valuable antiques have been destroyed or are in danger of being destroyed. The wonderful statues of Buddha in Bamyan have gone so too has the historic market place in Syria. Iraq has suffered grave losses too. Then there are pending dangers like the case of Greece, which due to the current crisis,is unable to protect some of the most valuable historic sites in the world. Why is it so important to preserve our historic heritage? Do your research and write your essay.
Reading material to annotate
1.       “Looking at Artifacts, Thinking about History” This is a long but wonderful text highlighting various aspects of the issue. You need to keep clicking next at the bottom of the page.
2.       “Historic Preservation” This article is all about what is being done in the US and the UK but should provide you with  an inkling as to what the rest of the world should be doing.
Video accompanied by text to read, annotate, listen and make notes on
1.       “The Importance of Preserving Historical Artifacts: A look at the Museum of Art’s Islamic Wing” This brilliant article is accompanied by a ted video access to which is provided. Click on the link, listen and make notes

The video by the same author on the same subject, titled “Weaving Narratives in Museum Galleries” can be found at

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


By: Samuel A. Culbert
Published: The Wall Street Journal, October 20 2008;
Level of Difficulty: ***
Note to the student: This text is a brilliant argumentative essay which follows all the rules. Study it accordingly
·         Have you ever gone through a performance review?
·         What are your feelings about the practice?
1.       What aspect of the implementation of a performance review does the writer object to?
2.       The writer feels that performance reviews are superfluous because………………………………………
3.       The boss and the employees have different expectations of performance reviews. What is the immediate result of this? What is the possible longer term result?
4.       Should the employee object to the boss’ evaluation of her failings,
·         She will dig herself into a deeper hole
·         The boss will land herself in trouble
·         The boss will need to be very fortunate at the next assessment
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
·         Other: please specify
5.       Contrary to popular belief, salaries are determined by ……………………………………………………..
6.       What is the real purpose of a boss in a performance review?
7.       What does “this” refer to in the phrase “To me, this is just further proof”?
8.       An important source of information in the 360-degree feedback is …………………………………..
9.       Performance reviews can be rendered more objective only if ……………………………………………
10.   Pleasing the boss is considered to be of greater importance than doing a job well. Why exactly is this the case? There are two answers; find both.
11.   One problem with the checklist is that it completely disregards …………………………………………
12.   A member of staff is not likely to turn to the boss with a query as to how he can improve because:
·         The boss may not know the member of staff well enough
·         The boss may be unable to understand his problem
·         He may not have the opportunity to speak to the boss
·         A plea for help might backfire
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
·         Other: please specify
13.   What does “that” refer to in the sentence “The performance review undermines that”?
14.   Current performance reviews are criticized for not being  …………………………………….
15.   Performance reviews of this sort will negatively impact the company because the boss ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
16.   What conclusion can we draw from the fourth paragraph on page four of the print edition?
17.   The conclusion that can be drawn from the following paragraph is that performance reviews:
·         Encourage self improvement
·         Encourage time to be spent doing public good
·         Are a waste of time
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
·         Other: please specify
18.   The conclusion we can draw from the following paragraph is that ………………………………………….
19.   Why does the writer feel it is grossly unfair for the boss to be promoted and receive a pay rise while subordinates fail and get fired?
20.   The overall advantage of a performance preview in contrast to the performance review is that it is directed to …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
21.   The active questioning inquiry is superior to the checklist because:
·         The boss asks all the questions
·         The members of staff ask all the questions
·         It encourages give and take
·         It encourages team work
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
·         Other: please specify
22.   What does “it” refer to in the phrase “up to it”
23.   The drawbacks of the performance review can best and most concisely be summarized as follows:
Discuss the negative effects of performance reviews.
In your introduction, explain what exactly performance reviews are and what they entail. End your introduction with a thesis statement stating that you will be discussing the negative effects. Check the box in the print edition of the text for a plan!
Use the text for your development
In your conclusion, introduce performance previews as an alternative
Write an argumentative essay against performance reviews. Your introduction and conclusion will be the same as above.
Compare and contrast performance reviews and performance previews. In your introduction, discuss the need for mutual feedback for the company and introduce the two alternatives.
This wonderful text attracted my attention first of all because it concerns such a thorn in the side of so many people: performance reviews and secondly because it follows all the rules of argumentative essay writing. It is almost like a sample essay with a clear introduction, development and a conclusion. There is even a little essay plan in a box. I can’t see the average 18 year old going for it but older students will be able to identify beautifully.
1.       One side accountable or boss administered
2.       The boss has the power with or without the review
3.       It puts the participants at odds talking past each other; It creates tensions that carry over to their everyday relationships
4.       All of the above
5.       The market place or budget
6.       To win the subordinate’s gratitude
7.       The fact that when people switch bosses they often receive sharply different evaluations from the new boss to whom they now report
8.       Anonymous feedback; just a slicker way for people to push what is in their political interests to establish without having their biases and motives questioned
9.       An evaluator’s personal preferences, emotional biases, personal agendas and situational motives for giving feedback are sufficiently explicit
10.   Because what’s being measured has more to do with a checklist expert’s assumptions about what competent people do; create a positive impression and the boss will score you high on any dimension presented
11.   Incompatibility of styles
12.   1, 2 and 4
13.   The one to one relationship between the boss and each of his or her subordinates
14.   Joint performance ; OR two sided
15.   Will not hear what subordinates actually think
16.   Performance reviews lead to more bogus activities than valid ones
17.   3
18.   What goes around comes around
19.   Because the boss’ assignment is to guide, coach, tutor, provide oversight and generally do whatever is required to assist a subordinate perform successfully.
20.   To the future and what I need from you as a teammate and partner in getting accomplished what we both want to see happen
21.   3 and 4.  The first one won’t do because it isn’t a reason for superiority
22.   Straight talk relationships
23.   They promote intimidation not trust

Monday, July 15, 2013


“What will become of humans as we evolve under the selective pressures of our modern lives and technology? If we adapt to some of the more bizarre elements of the present, humans could undergo some surreal changes
By: Dean Burnett
Published: The Guardian; 10 July 2013;
Level of Difficulty: **
Note to the student: this is a speed reading exercise; allow yourself 2 minutes per question max but try to complete the questions – write out the answers – in as little time as possible. The answers need to be precise!

What Is The Future Of Human Evolution?

Are we evolving a new type of human? Different species will have evolved by 2050, scientists claim
1.       Why is Susan Greenfield’s novel described as a dystopia?
2.       What is the basic tenet of transhumanism?
3.       What use could chromatophores be?
4.       Which sentence best summarizes the advantages of the ability to change skin color?
5.       The cocktail party effect can best be described as the as the ability to ……………………………………
6.       Why will humans need to make more use of the cocktail party effect in the future?
7.       The above will have health benefits because people will be ……………………………………………………
8.       Humans could evolve tentacles because………………………………………………………………………………….
9.       Humans could develop more flexible skeletons thanks to an increase in ………………………………
10.   Why will a greater proportion of cartilage be a professional advantage to dance groups?
11.   How would the acquisition of wings impact the world of sports?
This is a lighthearted little text detailing some possible evolutionary changes that might take place in the human body with justification. Each view is nicely supported. The students might like to discuss their own takes on evolution when they are done. My personal opinion is that our thumbs will develop three digits to meet the requirement for texting. Others may have different views. Enjoy.
1.       Because all her predictions about the perils of technology have come true
2.       The enhancement of the human condition via technology is good even essential
3.       They could provide the opportunity to consciously alter the color of skin
4.       Being able to either visually blend in or stand out at will would be a potent advantage in modern society
5.       Focus on a specific conversation that catches your attention (despite their being…)
6.       Because the internet and mainstream media has seemingly given every person the impression that they should air their opinion no matter how ill informed on any subject they wish
7.       Less stressed and angry
8.       With the increasing need to use technical interfaces, our priorities are changing
9.       Cartilage in their skeletons
10.   They would be able to perform moves beyond those of their more rigid counterparts, ensuring a presence on numerous TV talent shows

11.   Some extreme sports would end up being considered rather mundane

Sunday, July 14, 2013


By: John Tierney
Published: The New York Times, July 8, 2013;
Level of Difficulty: **
·         What is nostalgia?
·         Is it good for you or not?
·         How do you feel when you think back on past memories? Why?


Exploring Positive Effects of Nostalgia

Study: Nostalgia Helps Keep People Warm

1.       His fellow doctor labeled Sedikides’ nostalgia for his old home as a sign of depression because ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
2.       Doctor Sedikides associated the nostalgia he felt with
·         Pleasant feelings
·         Security
·         Continuity
·         Confidence
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
·         Other: please specify
3.       The advantages of nostalgia according to experts are that it increases
·         Empathy
·         Sympathy
·         Stress
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
·         Other: please specify
4.       Why is Odysseus considered a nostalgist?
5.       Read the words of Doctor Wildschut carefully. What conclusion can we draw from it? You will have to tweak the text.
6.       Did the Southampton study prove or disprove the reports that had been made to researchers concerning waxing nostalgic? Support your answer.
7.       Why exactly does nostalgia bring people closer and make them more giving?
8.       What surprising effect did music have in the Netherlands experiment?
9.       What is the view that nostalgia may have had survival value based on?
10.   What does the writer mean by the words “this sense of loss”?
11.   Read the North Dakota State University experiments. What positive effect did nostalgia have on the subjects?
12.   In the same experiments, why did the reading of the depressing essay have the effect it did?
13.   What overall conclusion can we draw from the North Dakota experiments? Be brief.
14.   Nostalgia seems to be more common during certain periods in one’s life. Why is this so?
15.   What is the advantage of anticipatory nostalgia?
16.   What do the words “This comparison free nostalgizing” refer to?
17.   What does “It” refer to in the sentence “It is  our diamond”
Write an essay discussing the advantages of engaging in nostalgia. Use the information in the text and your own experience.
The advantages in the text are as follows:
·         Counteracting loneliness, boredom, anxiety
·         Being generous to strangers
·         Being tolerant to outsiders
·         Making couples happier
·         Providing roots and continuity
·         Providing texture and the strength to move on
·         Making life meaningful
·         Making death less frightening
·         Providing more optimism
This is literally one of the most heartwarming and positive texts I have come across in a long time.  The fact that it lends itself to questions and a writing task is an added bonus. The discussion at the beginning should be interesting too with students discussing all the lovely old memories.
1.       Because nostalgia had been considered a disorder ever since the term was coined by a 17th century Swiss physician. Why else live in the past won’t do; it begs explanation.
2.       All of the above
3.       Other: 1 and 2
4.       Because he used memories of his family and home to get through hard times
5.       Nostalgia is found to be common around the world
6.       It proved the report. The people depressed about the disaster victims or worried about being lonely become more likely to wax nostalgic and the strategy worked.
7.       Because although nostalgic stories often start badly, with some kind of problem, they tend to end well thanks to help from someone close to them
8.       It made them feel warmer
9.       A memory that maintains physical comfort could contribute to survival by making you look for food and shelter that much longer
10.   Self discontinuity
11.   They felt loved and that life is worth living
12.   To ward off Sartrean despair. Jean Paul Sartre was a French writer and thinker.
13.   Nostalgia serves a crucial existential function
14.   Nostalgia helps us deal with transition
15.   When one needs a psychological lift or some extra motivation
16.   Focusing on the past in an existential way ( minimum)

17.   Paris

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Corruption in both the state and the private sector plagues many countries around the world; some more than others. It is a problem that all governments fight against but a lot depends on coming to grips with the underlying causes. Do your research and write about the causes of corruption. A good example of this essay is available under sample essays
Reading material to annotate:
1.       “The Causes of Corruption”
2.       “The Causes of Corruption”
3.       “Module IV: Causes of Corruption”
4.       “Corruption in Local Government”
Videos to watch and make notes on
1.       “Three Myths about Corruption”

2.       “How to Expose the Corrupt”


Social unrest or civil disobedience has been on the rise for some time now in various parts of the world for various reasons. Greeks are out in the streets protesting as are Brazilians and Spaniards. Experts expect more such mass protests in the future. Being highly disruptive, this social problem needs to be addressed. In order to venture to do so, the major causes of social unrest need to be understood and addressed.
Reading material to annotate
2.       “What Causes Social Unrest? Apparently, Everything”
3.       “We Are One Year Away from Global Riots Social Complex Systems Theorists Say”
4.       “Unrest in Peace”
5.       “Carrot not Stick: Redistribution versus Policing in Situations of Civil Unrest”
Videos to watch and make notes on
1.       “Louise Fresco on Feeding The Whole World”

2.       “Climate of Conflict: Climate change is expected to get worse, causing global food shortages, which can lead to civil unrest. Knowing this, can we prevent future riots and bloodshed?”

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Discrimination due to a host of reasons such as gender, race, cultural background, religion and the like or in the workplace or at school has a debilitating influence on the victim both in the short term and the long term. In the modern day, any form of prejudice and discrimination is completely unacceptable and should be eradicated. Write an essay discussing the effects of discrimination to bring this point home. There are more links than you are used to because many are very short indeed.
Reading material to annotate
1.       Diversity: Harmful Effects of Discrimination- part 1, 2 and 3; part 1 contains examples, the conclusions follow.
2.       Describe the Potential Effects of Discrimination
3.       What are the Effects of Discrimination Physically, Socially and Emotionally
4.       The Damaging Effects of Discrimination
5.       The Effects of Discrimination Could Last a Lifetime
6.       Seemingly Harmless Discrimination Has Harmful Psychological Effects
Videos to make notes on

Sunday, July 7, 2013


The Olympics are the single oldest international organization of completely amateur sport in the world with the first games dating back to the ancient Greek city states of Athens and Sparta. The winners were famously only rewarded with a wreath; there were no riches or money; only honor and glory. This tradition endures in the present day as well with two differences: the wreath has been replaced with medals and the games are held in different countries all over the globe. Many countries consider it a great honor to host the Olympics and rivalry and negotiations are fierce until the announcement is finally made and one country emerges victorious. However, is hosting the Olympics all that it is cracked up to be and does the endeavor involve some disadvantages as well? The answer to this question is undoubtedly affirmative.

It is universally agreed that hosting an international organization on such a grand scale has various advantages. The most obvious one is all the facilities and amenities that are provided for the games which later benefit the locals of the area. Stadiums are built or revamped, infrastructure is updated and any problems are ironed out, accommodation is arranged; in short, there is a general clean up ahead of the guests. Any international organization of this sort means tourists, which means potential customers, which means local businesses can look to making a tidy profit. It is a wonderful opportunity to advertise the country in all its glory, which in turn means future profits. In short, at first glance, it looks like a brilliant business opportunity so why are the Brazilians out in the streets protesting en masse the fact that the country is preparing to host a very similar international event, the world cup?

There are various disadvantages of hosting any organization on such a large scale which may not be obvious at first sight. If there are vast differences in quality of life and standard of living between various segments of society in the country as in the case of Brazil, the lower classes may see all the money being poured into the building of stadiums and the like to be a total waste of money and misuse of valuable resources. They may prefer these millions to be spent on welfare projects, housing, schools and roads not on some fancy playing fields they are not going to be able to get into. It must be agreed these people do have a point. Then there is a very real danger of not being able to recoup the money invested, which may be the case if not enough tickets are sold for the games or people just prefer to watch the games in the comfort of their living rooms. This has been the case in London but luckily, Britain is a developed country which can afford this. Can the same be said for developing countries and is the risk worth taking?

To sum up, hosting the Olympics does bring glory, free showcasing of the attractions of the country and revenue but whether this revenue will cover the costs and provide a healthy profit and whether public opinion will back the government of the host country is up for debate. Governments should consider the pros and cons very hard before taking on such a venture.
Provided by: The Oracle


The following exercise has been designed to help you grasp the basics of essay organization. In each case, the introduction and the conclusion will be provided along with notes for the development. Read the introduction carefully and make sure you understand the reason for the organization of the essay. Then write the development in accordance with the suggestions provided. You may need to do research to expand on the points. A word of warning: this not the only way of organizing this essay but it is one that works.

Uniforms, specialized clothing for various groups of people in life, have been around for hundreds and thousands of years especially in some sectors. Some people wear uniforms for recognition and identification like the army, clerics and the police, some do so for protection like firemen and riot police, others do so for hygiene like doctors and nurses. Yet students in many countries are made to wear uniforms as well and some are at a loss to understand why. Do they have a point or are school uniforms vital? There is a very simple answer to this: school uniforms should be the norm in developing and underdeveloped countries.

First developmental paragraph: Financial arguments
·         Poverty and limited means: one uniform cheaper than lots of regular clothes
·         Equality: the distinctions between more well to do less well-off students blurred
Second developmental paragraph: Practical arguments
·         Identification: young people identified as students
·         Discipline: uniforms, due to their connotations, make keeping order easier
·         Pride: a sense of pride due to being a student at a certain school
Third developmental paragraph: Individuality versus the system
·         Counter argument: uniforms restrict personality development
·         Rebuttal: generations of people have grown up with school uniforms; no data to link lack of individuality to uniforms

In conclusion, uniforms have done hundreds and thousands of people of past generations no discernible harm and in no way prevented them from flourishing. This being the case, burdening overstretched parents with the added expense of a wardrobe for their offspring seems illogical. The alternative a uniform and a spare is both cheaper and more practical. This does not mean to say uniforms can’t be more child-friendly and comfortable. In fact efforts should be made to achieve this to put a stop to the argument for once and for all.