Wednesday, February 26, 2014

THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF GROUP MEMBERSHIP


There are many different species on the planet some of which are solitary and some of which are gregarious. The latter are called social animals and depend on each other to deal with problems in life. Humans belong to the latter category but due to their intelligence, they also value independence. Social living necessitates cooperation and team work so each individual becomes a member of various groups throughout his life. Yet not all the effects of groups are as advantageous as they may seem; group membership can work to the detriment of the person involved as well as to his advantage.

The benefits of being a member of a group are undeniable. The first obvious advantage is socialization and learning to interact with people be it for work or play. Childhood cannot be imagined without friends to play ball with for instance. Skills learnt in the playground carry on in to the business world helping individuals to work together to complete a project and derive pleasure from the process. Friends are made in groups as like minded individuals come together. Peer pressure can help with personal betterment too by encouaging more socially acceptable, morally correct and developmentaly appropriate behavior. For example, members of a basketball team will encourage good eating habits and discourage alcohol and drugs. Yet not all groups are as innocent as they look.

There are many disadvantageous aspects of groups as well. Groups can crush the individual making him obey arbitrary rules of the group. For example, street gangs engage in illegal acts and petty crimes when young people are involved and later turn to violent crime. Young people living in the same neighbourhood may be drawn into the gang and become involved in crime through pressure from the group. A lot of the most infamous drug cartels, terrorist groups, religious fanatics can also be categorized as groups but membership is most certainly not to the benefit of the individual. The individuality of the person can be crushed in a regular, harmless group as well if the said individual is timid by nature. To sum up, nothing in this world is black and white; most things are grey.

In conclusion, group membership can be the best experience ever or cost one one’s life. It is important to judge the purposes of the group correctly and get involved if such a relationship will be benefitial. Children should heed their parents or their elders who should in turn provide guidance. Adults should use their common sense to derive as many benefits as possible from group membership and avoid the pitfalls.

Provided by: The Oracle

RESTRAUNTS: A CLASSIFICATION ESSAY


Eating is one of the pleasures of life and is not just satisfaction of a physical need. Dinner tables bring families, friends and even strangers together and help build bridges. Therefore, there are many rituals involved in eating, and different countries have their own cuisine. People often eat at home or at friends’ and relatives houses but sometimes, on special occasions, they go out to eat. Their destination is a restraunt. Restraunts vary according to quality, specialty and size.

Restraunts can be classified according to quality, which is often expressed with stars. A five star restraunt has the best possible chef – probably with a Michelin star – a well stocked kitchen and lots of staff. The service is faultless, the cutlery, glassware, crockery and linen are beautiful. The waiters are experienced and well dressed. There is one downside to this superb eating experience: the price. This kind of quality comes at a price, which the visitor must be prepared to pay. An example of a five star restraunt would be the Ritz in London.

Restraunts can be classified according to cuisine as well. Some restraunts have an international menu while others will only serve food from a particular area.  Italian restraunts serve pasta, risotto and pizzas while Chinese restraunts only serve Chinese food. Examples of such restraunts would be The Chinese restraunt in Etiler and the Italian restraunt in Taksim. Some restraunts on the other hand, only specialize in a certain kind of food and limit their menus to that. Examples to the latter would be vegetarian restraunts or sea food restraunts.  To sum up, all these restraunts are highly specialized and appeal to a smaller group of people.

Restraunts can also be categorized with respect to size. Some are huge, like Borsa in Beyoğlu, others only have a dozen or so tables like Zencefil. The size is not always an indication of price or quality. Some small restraunts serve wonderful food at reasonable prices but others don’t. Whereas some large restraunts opperate like canteens, others serve delicious food. For example, Konyalı at The Topkapı Museum is big but the quality is wonderful. Borsa, on the other hand, is an average restraunt.

In conclusion, eating out with friends and family is and always has been one of the pleasures of life. This trend will continue in the future. Due to the purpose of restraunts, there will be few changes in the experience.

Provided by: The Oracle

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

HOW DO WE REALLY MAKE DECISIONS?


By: Toby McDonald; Producer, Horizon (How you really make decisions)
Published: BBC NEWS; 24 February 2014, http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-26258662
Level of Difficulty: **
BEFORE YOU READ
·         Access the online edition of the text and click “invisible gorilla test” in the text. On this sight, there are a number of perception tests, which you should try out. Make a note of how you do and try to think of reasons.
QUESTIONS
  1. Read down as far as Professor Daniel Kahneman. It is stated in this section that we are probably wrong if we imagine we have complete control over.....................................
  2. What alerted Prof. Kahneman to the fact that we may need to rethink our current beliefs about how the mind works? The fact that.............................................................................
  3. What makes “the logical part of your mind” inefficient? The fact that................................
  4. An old lady who is walking down the street feels she needs to stop every time she wishes to speak to her companion because............................................................................................
  5. In what way is the intuitive mind different from the attentive mind?
  6. Why is the intuitive mind known as the stranger within?
  7. What conclusion can we draw from the paragraph beginning “Most of the time”? Where else could this conclusion have been placed?
  8. Most insurance companies will allow you to collect your savings after ten years, before the end of your contract. The policy holder who goes along with this gets much less money nevertheless most opt to get their savings rather than wait. Why? Why do insurance companies make this offer?
  9. Why do we like to have litarary or political discussions with people who see things the same way? Due to..............................................................................................................................
  10. Read as far as Dan Ariely. What misconception concerning decision making is mentioned in the text? He explains our predicament by pointing out that we are strongly influenced by...
  11. Dan Ariely claims that some serious economic problems could have been avoided if we had taken into consideration the fact that...................................................................................
  12. Dr. Santos believes that trying to change our cognitive biases would be futile because.............
  13. What does “That” refer to in the sentence “That’s my hope”?
WRITING TASK
Use notes you made while reading the text to write a concise summary of the text. Remember you need to cover all the main points in as few words as possible.
HOW DO WE REALLY MAKE DECISIONS KEY AND TEACHER’S NOTES
This is a relatively simple text about quite a serious subject: the way our minds work and for this reason, it is wonderful. The perception tests at the beginning will provide a wonderful warm up. As for the writing task, the summary, it is spot on; this is a wonderful text to summarize.

  1. The intuitive part of our mind
  2. We all make systematic errors
  3. It is slow, requires a great deal of energy and extremely lazy.
  4. Her attentive mind cannot attend to both tasks.
  5. It is a faster way of thinking, is extremely powerful and totally hidden.
  6. Because you have no idea it is actually responsible for most of the things you say, do, think and believe.
  7. If we think we have reasons for what we believe, that is often a mistake. Our beliefs and our wishes and our hopes are not always anchored in reasons. At the beginning of the paragraph beginning “Most”.
  8. Because the present bias causes us to pay attention to what is happening now but not to worry about the future.  Companies know this and wish to make a profit.
  9. Confirmation bias.
  10. We all make rational decisions; loss aversion
  11. We are influnced by loss aversion; OR the traditional economic view is wrong; OR we don’t all make rational decisions.
  12. They are deep rooted in our evolutionary past.
  13. Building a world that is compatible with this;that gets us to make better decisions rather than worse decisions.

Monday, February 24, 2014

ARE MEN THE WEAKER SEX?


“Contrary to cultural assumptions that boys are stronger and sturdier, basic biological weaknesses are built into the male of our species. These frailties leave them more vulnerable than girls to life’s hazards, including environmental pollutants such as insecticides, lead and plasticizers”
By: Alice Shabecoff
Published: Scientific American, February 18, 2014 http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-men-the-weaker-sex/
Level of difficulty: **
Note to the Student: this is an easy level two so make it one of the first you do.
BEFORE YOU READ
·         Which do you think is the weaker sex? What do you base your opinion on?
NOW WATCH THE VIDEO
Are men mentally the weaker sex? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S07OX3Ip_Ks
QUESTIONS
1.       The writer says “But don’t go cheering yet” at the beginning of the second paragraph.Why might people want to cheer?
2.       What does “These frailties” in the second paragraph refer to?
3.       What is the relationship between the sentence beginning “These frailties” and the following sentence beginning “Several studies...”?
4.       What conclusion can we draw from paragraph three?
5.       What surprising comparison is provided concerning boys?
6.       Which sentence best summarizes the paragraph concerning autism and lead poisoning?
7.       Why do humans start out in the womb with female features?
8.       The chances of something going wrong is much greater for the male fetus because of.............
9.       The disadvantage of being a male in the case of genetic disorders is the fact that.....................
10.   The higher rate of autism among boys is attributed to................................................................
11.   The male brain is more vulnerable than the female brain to all problems related to the brain due to ..........................................................................................................................................
12.   Which sentence best summarizes the information concerning chlorphyrifos, phthalates and bisphjenol A?
13.   The scientific relity of male weaknesses  mean that we need to ................................................
WRITING TASK
Write an essay or paragraph to support the following thesis statement: We need to find ways to protect the male species for the future of mankind. You will need to provide support proving that males need protection. Imagine that the whole world disagrees. Use the notes you made.

ARE MEN THE WEAKER SEX? KEY AND TEACHER’S NOTES
Once again, here is a relatively simple yet scientific text which appeals to adult learners of English. The text is lexically very straightforward but there are twists and turns which allow for good careful reading questions. There is a pretty obvious writing task to follow.
1.       The shortest answer: the male Y chromozome has apparently halted its disappearing act.
2.       The basic biological weaknesses that are built into the male of our species
3.       The second sentence is a restatement.
4.       Human males are disappearing.
5.       Boys in the 1970s faces 30% higher chance of death by their first birthday, back in the 1750s they were 10%...
6.       Once they make it to childhood they face other challenges.
7.       The famale is the default gender (the basic simpler model)
8.       The greater number of cell divisions
9.       The male lacks a healthy copy of the gene to fall back on
10.   The loss of key proteins for brain development or repair mechanisms in boys
11.   The lack of estrogen
12.   Some of these chemicals act like fake estrogens, others like fake testosterone but both types seem to disrupt normal development.
13.   Find ways to protect them from harm


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A NATION BUILT FOR IMMIGRANTS


“Will the recent surge of newcomers tear the US apart? Not if history is any guide: From the beginning, America was made to unite citizens, even those with deep differences.”
By: Michael Barone
Published: The Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2013
Level of Difficulty: ***
BEFORE YOU READ
The Immigration History of the United States https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBJcqxI7kas

Note to the student: This task needs to be done fast so allow yourselves 2 (maximum 3) minutes per question
QUESTIONS
1.       What does “That” refer to in the phrase “That is exponentially larger than in 1970...”?
2.       What does “this transformation” in the phrase “Needless to say, this transformation hasn’t gone unnoticed in our politics” refer to?
3.       The writer says “The issue remains tense”. What is the reason for the concern?
4.       The writer also states that according to history, there is really no need to worry because........
5.       The two most common reasons for migration are the desire to............................................................
6.       The Scottish and the Irish immigrants were different from the blacks in that.............................
7.       The Scottish and Irish desire to expand their territory contributed greatly to the founding of the modern US. State one of these contributions.
8.       The reform movements spear-headed by the Yankees came about as a result of the fact that.............................................................................................................................................
9.       What was at the root of the political differences in the mid 19th century?
10.   What conclusion can be drawn from the account of migration patterns in the interim period between the Civil War and WW II?
11.   Why do you think few Irish wanted to go back to farming?
12.   Which sentence in the paragraph beginning “The Irish also...” best expresses the main idea?
13.   The German immigrants to the US can best be described as...................................................
14.   The tug of war between the Irish Catholics and the Germans ultimately helped shape the future of America as.............................................. Now state the reason.
15.   Why did the US have no religious test for federal office?
16.   The purpose of universal public schools was to see that ............................................................
17.   Why were the Slav and Jewish immigrants a special problem for the US?
18.   Why is the military the most racially equal part of society in the US?
19.   For what reasons did the Northward black migration suddenly end?
20.   How could the current economic situation of America and the Latin American countries effect migration?
21.   The advantage of Asian migrants is that they are ...................................................................
22.   What does “This” refer to in the phrase “This was a revolutionary approach”?
WRITING TASK
Based on what you have just learnt, do you believe the new trends in migration will have a negative impact on the USA or not? Remember to justify your opnion.
A NATION BUILT FOR IMMIGRANTS KEY AND TEACHER’S NOTES
This factual and informative text is ideal for any form of speed reading; with this in mind, I have suggested times – an upper limit of 3 min. per question. The text itself lends itself to an interesting writing task as well.

  1. 12 million Mexican born people and millions of American children who are their offspring.
  2. The fact that Hispanics have replaced blacks as the largest officially recognized minority group.
  3. The US  is well on its way to flying apart. This is the minimum you need to write; practice shortening your answers.
  4. Americans have developed a capacity and a habit of accomodating and uniting citizens with very different and deep differences.
  5. To pursue dreams or to escape nightmares; to build new communities on which they can put their stamp.
  6. They weren’t coerced.
  7. The ousting of the Creek Indians from what is now Alabama and South Georgia, the victory over the British at New Orleans, the acquisition of Florida and Texas, the opening of the way for the Mexican war and the acquisition of California.
  8. The Yankee community developed a vigorous evangelical Christianity.
  9. The issue of slavery
  10. Migrations aren’t just responses to economic incentives
  11. Because they had suffered so much during the Irish patatoe famine
  12. Irish Americans put their stamp not only on popular politics but on popular culture.
  13. Pacifist, isolationist and dovish
  14. Abraham Lincoln was nominate in 1860; he rejected nativist and prohibitionist policies.
  15. Because the Founding Fathers knew they were creating what many now call a multicultural nation.
  16. Children understood and respected a common civic culture
  17. Because they came from polities where representative government, cvic participation and guaranteed liberties were weakly (or not at all) rooted.
  18. Because the war experience raised the argument that people who risked their lives for the nation should be treated equally when they came home.
  19. Because legal segregation ended, there were urban riots and continued residential segregation in the North.
  20. Migrants could self-deport, migration could be reduced, future migrants could have higher skill and educational level
  21. Are more upscale; you can’t use the verb “have” as it doesn’t fit the sentence.
  22. Creating a strong federal government where powers would be limited in order to reduce cultural conflict and preserve zones of authority.

Monday, February 17, 2014

NEW PUBLICATION: THE AUTONOMOUS LANGUAGE LEARNER AT WORK

My article titled "The Autonomous Language Learner at Work" has been published and is now on the Humanizing Language Teaching website. To see the article go to:

http://hltmag.co.uk/feb14/mart05.htm

RESEARCH RELATED ANALYSIS OF A PROBLEM: THE TROUBLED TEEN INDUSTRY AND THE HORRIFIC REHAB CENTERS


The spread of behaviour deemed ‘inappropriate, immoral or otherwise socially unacceptable” has created a radical backlash from hard liners, especially in the US. The research you are about to do will lead you to focus on the extreme measures resorted to in order to tackle drug abuse, inappropriate behaviour and the like. In your essay, describe the problem and suggest how it may be dealt with. One word of warning: these links are not for the faint hearted.
Thanks are due to Essie, http://essiespeaks.blogspot.com for this interesting activity
Reading texts to annotate
1.       “Teens are being trapped in abusive drug rehab centers” http://www.vice.com/read/thousands-of-american-teens-are-trapped-in-abusive-cult-like-treatment-centres While reading the article, you will come across numerous links to videos and texts; access them as well.
2.       “Horror stories from tough-love teen homes” http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/08/new-bethany-ifb-teen-homes-abuse This is a longish text but quite simply written about the horrors of this school-come-prison
3.       “6 shocking realities of the troubled teen industry” http://www.cracked.com/article_20843_6-shocking-realities-secret-troubled-teen-industry.html
4.       “Troubled teen industry: saving children from institutionalized abuse and torture” http://troubledteenindustry.com/ This site provides solutions. It is suggested that you check out the links

Videos to watch and make notes on:
There are a selection of videos here but there is much more. It is suggested that you select some more to watch.
1.       Film: Kidnapped for Christ: http://www.kidnappedforchrist.com/
It is suggested that you read a few reviews of the film as well
2.       “6 shocking realities of the troubled teen industry” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Az3TG3ScOfQ
3.       “Troubled teen industry hearing” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_4z3NIg-fE


VIDEO RELATED REACTION ESSAY: “WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE MEDIA’S PRIORITY IS PROFIT?


In this thought-provoking video, David Puttnam presents us with a very topical moral issue concerning the way the press operates. Listen carefully to the video, make notes and write a reaction or response essay. The link to the talk is as follows:
How to write a reaction or response essay:
Introduce the issue
Summarize the main points in the video
Express your own opinions

Write a restatement

Sunday, February 16, 2014

DOUBLE TEXT READING INTO WRITING ACTIVITY: PROCRASTINATION, IMPOSTER SYNDROME AND SELF-HANDICAPPING

These two texts analyze a very common problem: procrastination, the underlying reasons and possible solutions. Being a very widespread issue, students ought to be able to identify with what is said, extrapolate and perhaps benefit from the take home points. The purpose of the writing task is to bring information from both texts and the students’ personal experience together and is such a challenging but eminently useful activity. The students should be encouraged to annotate the texts and make notes. One word of advice: this is a difficult level** mainly due to the writing task so make this one of the last activities in this level that you do.
Now, take the test

BEFORE YOU READ
·         If something needs doing, do you delay it or get stuck in at once?
·         What are your typical delay tactics? What do you tell yourself?
·         Why do you think you self-handicap yourself?
·         How do you feel the longer you put off doing the job?
·         How can one break the cycle?

NOW WATCH THE VIDEOS
3Powerful techniques to beat procrastination https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VA8D1cGW5Qk
How to stop procrastination https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qvcx7Y4caQE 

TEXT ONE: WHY WRITERS ARE THE WORST PROCRASTINATORS
“The psychological origins of waiting (…and waiting, and waiting) to work”
By: Megan McArdlefeb
Published: The Atlantic, February 12, 2014
Level of Difficulty: ** (This a tough level**)
QUESTIONS
1.       What does the writer have in common with the book editor described in the text?
2.       Look back at the first paragraph. Have you ever had this experience? Explain.
3.       What eventually gets the writer’s well-known colleague to complete his “8000 word features”? The fact that ……………………………………………………………………………………………..
4.       The writer says “This sounds crazy”. What is he talking about?
5.       Look at the paragraph beginning “Most writers”. Identify the topic sentence and the concluding statement. What do you notice about them? Why is this the case?
6.       Why do professional writers in general procrastinate?
7.       Which sentence best summarizes the main idea of the paragraph beginning “If you’ve spent…”?
·         Writers procrastinate because they want to put off the inevitable: they are terrible
·         Writers procrastinate because they lose their natural ability and have to face a referendum.
·         Writers procrastinate because they are basically like Proust, Oscar Wild and George Orwell
·         Writers procrastinate because they are afraid they might not measure up.
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
·         Other: please specify
8.       What does “this theory” in the paragraph beginning “Exactly…” refer to? Be explicit.
9.       What does the phrase “some people thrived under the challenge” mean? Do not use your own words!
10.   What is the reason for the difference in attitude between people who dislike challenges and those who don’t?
11.   What kind of people engage in self- handicapping? Those who have…………………………..
12.   Can you give your own examples of self-handicapping?
13.   For what reason does Dweck criticize some teachers?
·         For praising all the students
·         For telling them that work is easy
·         For telling them that they need to overcome challenges
·         For giving them the wrong message
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
·         Other: please specify
14.   What conclusion can be drawn from the two examples in the text concerning the English class and the science survey class?
15.   What exactly does Pastor Steven mean in the comment he made? Use your own words.
16.   How does “The Trophy Kids” upbringing impact their attitude to and expectations of work?
17.   What is the problem when employees “think they know more than they know”?
18.   One can conclude from what Todd says that young people in their early twenties:
·         Are not innovative or creative
·         Are bad at taking initiative
·         Are hard working
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
·         Other: please specify
19.   In what respect are modern kids compared to little Dalai Lamas? With respect to………………….
20.   What conclusion can be drawn from the last couple of paragraphs you read?
21.   What phenomenon has resulted in Whiffle parenting?
22.   What does “That” refer to in the phrase “That is probably…”?


TEXT TWO: TO STOP PROCRASTINATING, LOOK TO SCIENCE OF MOOD REPAIR
“New Approach Focuses on Helping People Regulate Their Emotions”
By: Sue Shellenbarger
Published: The Wall Street Journal; January 7, 2014
Level of Difficulty:**
QUESTIONS
1.       What two conclusions can we draw from procrastinators’ typical feel-good tactics?
2.       Why exactly does giving into feel-good not work?
3.       What was the underlying reason for Gisela Chodos’ predicament?
4.       Why is Dr. Pychyl’s advice to just get started sensible?
5.       What does “This” refer to in the phrase “This remedies procrastinators’ tendency…”?
6.       Which thoughts Sean Gilbertson entertained turned out to be true?
7.       What is the prognosis as far as career goes for prognosticators?
8.       If not dealt with, procrastination can have serious long term effects such as…………………..
9.       What is the real reason for the negative internal dialogue procrastinators have?
10.   The case of Thomas Flint proves that ……………………………………works very well.

WRITING TASK
Write an essay in which you discuss the reasons for and the solutions to the problem of procrastination. Remember to use the notes you made; do not copy paste. This is your essay not a hotchpotch of other people’s
In your introduction, explain what procrastination is and how it occurs.
In your first developmental paragraph, use the information you gleaned from the first text to discuss the reasons for procrastination.
In your second developmental paragraph, use the information in the second text to discuss solutions.
In your conclusion, write a restatement



KEY AND TEACHER’S NOTES
The two texts that make up this activity slot into place beautifully as the first analyses reasons and the second focuses on solutions. Bringing all the information together along with their own experience in the writing task  will constitute a wonderful cognitive challenge, which should prepare them for future reading and writing. The issue is one many students have to wrestle with so it is hoped the activity will be of personal use too.
TEXT ONE: KEY
1.       They are both procrastinators; they are inveterate procrastinators. “For writers, procrastination is a particularly common occupational hazard” won’t answer fit in with the question. Read them together to see why
2.       Personal answer. The answer you give to this question is important for the writing task.
3.       He is missing his deadline
4.       The fact that writers are too good in English class
5.       The concluding statement is a restatement of the topic sentence – paraphrased version. This is natural as the writer set out to prove a point, he proved it with the support he provided and ended up with the argument he started with.
6.       Because they are forced into a challenge they are not prepared for.
7.       The last one
8.       The theory that writers procrastinate because they seem paralyzed by the prospect of writing something that isn’t good.
9.       They positively relished things they weren’t very good at – for precisely the reason that they should have. When they were failing they were learning.
10.   The people who dislike challenges think that talent is a fixed thing that you are born with or not. The people who relish them…
11.   Imposter syndrome
12.   Personal answer. The answer to this question will be important when you reach the writing task.
13.   The fourth alternative
14.   You never see the mistakes or the struggles
15.   We compare the process we go through to complete the final work to other’s final work
16.   The new graduates expect the workplace to replicate the cozy well-structured atmosphere of school.
17.   It is very hard to give them negative feedback without crushing their egos.
18.   All of the above
19.   The intensive early grooming they get
20.   All this help can be actively harmful.
21.   The fact that spots at the elite schools – the top 10 percent – have barely kept up with population growth.
22.   The ability to learn from mistakes, to be knocked down and to pick themselves up – the ability, in other words, to fail gracefully

TEXT TWO: KEY
1.       If you’ve tried building self discipline and you are still putting things off, maybe you need to try something different; procrastinators’ attempts at mood repair are sabotaging their efforts to regulate their emotions in more productive ways.
2.       Because procrastinators feel worse later and negative emotions can derail attempts at self control.
3.       She was trying to run away from the feelings and the discomfort – the anxiety she often feels that her work won’t be good enough and that someone will disapprove.
4.       Because a real mood boost comes from doing what we intend to do.
5.       Time travel; OR its explanation: projecting themselves…
6.       The good feelings he would have after completing the project well and pleasing his client and his employer.
7.       Lower salaries and a higher likelihood of unemployment
8.       Failing to save for retirement and neglecting preventive healthcare
9.       Concerns and doubts about themselves
10.   Self forgiveness; OR, forgiving himself and starting with a single step


Thursday, February 13, 2014

MACHIAVELLI WAS RIGHT


“The shocking lesson of The Prince isn’t that politics demands dirty hands, but that politicians shouldn’t care”
By: Michael Ignatieffnov, who teaches at the University of Toronto and Harvard’s Kennedy School
Published:  The Atlantic; December 2013
Level of difficulty: ***
BEFORE YOU READ 
 Niccolo Machiavelli - BBC Documentary 720p https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsMs-DuGy1o

Note to the student: this task was labeled level *** because of the conceptual difficulty of the subject matter and the writing task; not for lexical reasons
BEFORE YOU READ
It is suggested that you do some research on the life of Machiavelli, a 15th century Florentine thinker, to be able to get some background. It is also suggested that you seek out some videos to watch. Having familiarized yourself with the man and his work, get stuck in. Make sure to annotate the text as you read for the essay task.
QUESTIONS
1.       For what two reasons is the scene in The Situation Room described at the beginning of the text a Machiavellian moment?
2.       What seems to the main idea of The Prince? There are two possible answers; find both.
3.       What surprising epithet does Bobbitt assign Machiavelli? Why?
4.       What conclusion can we draw about Machiavelli from Bobbitt, Viroli and Vivanti’s views? There are two possible answers; find both.
5.       What set Machiavelli aside from other political thinkers who claimed politicians cannot always do good? There are two possible answers; find both.
6.       What unrealistic perception do we have of politicians?
7.       What does “It” refer to in the sentence “It is a mistake”?
8.       Why was Machiavelli wary of Christian principle and religious moralizing?
9.       Machiavelli believed in the importance of:
·         Elections
·         Avoiding war and turmoil
·         Public opinion
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
·         Other: please specify
10.   What does “This moral clarity” refer to?
11.   What was the real issue Machiavelli was trying to address in The Prince?
12.   According to Machiavelli, was Obama’s decision to invade the compound in Pakistan right or wrong? Why?
13.   Machiavelli would probably have approved of the current international policy not to intervene in Syria because it is difficult………………………………………………………………………………..
14.   According to Machiavelli, a good leader is someone:
·         Who doesn’t suffer from insomnia
·         Who is a risk taker
·         Who is morally upright
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
·         Other: please specify
WRITING TASK
You have just read all about a very controversial book which has been around for over 500 years. What are your views of the views expressed in The Prince? Write a reaction essay on the topic. Follow the plan below:
In your introduction, you can either describe the political and historical context and introduce Machiavelli or introduce the dilemma concerning politicians and wind up by discussing Machiavelli and The Prince.
In your first developmental paragraph, summarize the views expressed in The Prince. Summarize doesn’t mean copy-paste; it means take the ideas but not the language so use the notes you made. Also make sure that you have covered all the main points and left out the details. If you are not sure how to do this, check out the section on summaries on this blog.
In your second developmental paragraph, state your opinions and to what extent you agree with Machiavelli. Remember to support your views.
In your conclusion, write a restatement. If you don’t know how to do this, check out the sample essays written by professionals.
MACHIAVELLI WAS RIGHT KEY AND TEACHER’S NOTES
Machiavelli and his famous book The Prince are things university students should have some idea about and hopefully this brilliant little text will serve this purpose. I also feel that the views expressed will be of great interest to the modern student and as such, the text has a most definite wow factor. The advantages of the text do not end here: it lends itself to some good questions and a brilliant summary task as a part of the reaction essay. I would advise teachers to make sure students annotate the text correctly and make notes to use later. This is a very important skill that they will need throughout university. You will see that there are multiple answers to some questions and I require students to find both; I do this to test students’ paraphrasing skills.
1.       Because a political leader is taking ultimate risks that go with the exercise of power; because it is an instance when public necessity requires actions that private ethics and religious values might condemn as unjust and immoral.
2.       There is a gulf between private conscience and the demands of public action; in politics, evil deeds cease to be evil if urgent public interest makes them necessary.
3.       The great theorist of the early modern state; he understood that if power was no longer personal, no longer exercised by a Medieval lord, it had to be moralized in a new public ethic based on reason of state.
4.       Machiavelli was, in fact, a brilliant writer, a good companion and a passionate patriot; he was a misunderstood forerunner of the Italian Risorgimento calling for…
5.       He believed politicians shouldn’t worry about doing evil in the name of public good. Now stop and think about why the clauses are reversed. The second answer: he was unconcerned with dirty hands.
6.       We want our politicians to be suffering servants, lying awake at night, wrestling with the conflict between private morality and public good
7.       Gratuitous cruelty
8.       Because someone who believes he has God on his side is capable of anything
9.       2 and 3
10.   A clear sighted appreciation of how men really are as distinct from how they ought to be. This much is enough.
11.   When and how much ruthlessness is necessary in the world of politics.
12.   It was right; because it was the use of violence to protect the republic; OR, the violence was not gratuitous.
13.   To discern a  clear target or a defensible strategic objective.

14.   None of the above. The first alternative doesn’t reflect Machiavelli’s view; he says a leader should not lose sleep over unpleasant decisions. The second alternative won’t work either because Machiavelli wants the leader to be able to take risks when necessary; not an adrenalin junky.