Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Elections are the basic tenet of democracy as they ensure the participation of everybody in the government. That everybody should have a say is a given but is what everybody has to say of equal value? The ancient Greeks thought not and excluded women and slaves; modern states include all: young people, ignorant or illiterate people and university graduates. Does either of these systems ensure real democracy or is some other form of restriction necessary? Education is one such criterion and it is safe to say that real democracy is most certainly only possible with educated voters.

The first point to consider is what exactly is being demanded of the voters during an election: they are being asked if they have read, understood and approve of the party’s program. In order to be able to do this, they need to have understood the economic policy, the foreign policy, the educational policy and the like; they need to have formed an opinion about all of this and determined where they stand. It is all very well to say that everybody is influenced by the loss of freedom and that everybody is able to judge this. Yet an election is much more than this; reducing the whole process to a choice between loss of freedom and democracy is a gross oversimplification. Hand on heart; is everybody in the country truly capable of making an informed decision during an election? There is no denying that the better educated the voter, the better he is able to understand the issues facing the country.

True, there are plenty of fliers being distributed, appearances being made on television talk shows and articles in newspapers that detail the background and views of each candidate but who really reads or watches them? It cannot be denied that many people are influenced by the image the candidate presents rather than his views. A candidate’s smile, the sparkle in his eyes, how he relates to the public and his demeanor may take precedence over the actual content of a speech he makes. Vague promises concerning higher wages, pensions, bonuses, food handouts and the like may blind voters to the realities. Facts such as these are less likely to cloud the judgment of a university graduate who takes an active interest in public affairs than an uneducated farmer. It could be claimed that basic common sense has nothing to do with level of education but with no disrespect, being astute is not enough; prior knowledge is also necessary before casting one’s ballot.

There is no denying that “vox populi” or the voice of the people is important but what exactly they say is equally important. For what the public has to say to matter, they need to be informed and knowledgeable; they shouldn’t be easily swayed by rhetoric as less educated voters are more likely to be. Misinformed and illiterate voters have done untold damage to so called democracies; various ‘democracies’ in Africa are a case in point. This being the case, real democracy is only possible if the voters are well educated and well informed; the opposite is too risky to consider. 


As is commonly known, conditions of workers such as miners or laborers are far below acceptable standards. A quick glance at the statistics reveals how enormous and devastating the effect of inadequate working conditions is on the lives of workers. The increasing occupational accidents, in this respect, pose a question as to whether working under bad conditions stems from inspectors’ lack of control or governments’ inability to invest wisely in technology or workers’ inability to unionize.
By and large, not taking the necessary measures for job security is the most common reason among the other possible causes. Our authorities are, unfortunately, incapable of springing to action when it comes to ensuring safe and sanitary conditions for workers. Noticeable examples are not scarce in Turkey of course. In 2014, due to the low safety level, a fire claimed the lives of more than three hundred coalminers. This deplorable condition, on the other hand, points to another significant reason: lack of legal control over corporations. Restraining those careless organizations’ self-control may sound reasonable. In fact, if authorities not only show sufficient will and intelligence but also err on the side of caution, there will be fewer deadly work place accidents.
The burden of responsibility lies in the hands of governments, again, because they are failing to invest in technology sufficiently. Numerous workers have to face up to difficult conditions owing to the technological gap in our country. Providing them with basic amenities may not be a big deal to eliminate this deprivation. In addition, lack of severe punishments for wrongdoers takes a toll on workers. Giving the private sector freedom or displaying indifference to confederates, in this point, costs the government more than money. Last but not the least, ineffective labor unions and an inability to achieve a consensus engender undesirable results. Instead of just accepting the consequences of such negligence, they must assert their sacrosanct rights.
Looking at the broader picture, it would be true to argue that the grave negligence of authorities and workers’ inability to be united are the most convincing reasons for such hideous conditions. Let alone the underprivileged workers, governments should undertake an enterprise and more importantly, regard all work place accidents as a prime concern.

HAVVANUR ZAFER Program 2, May 2015

E-voting/ Advantages and Disadvantages essay

The way people vote has been paper-based for a long time in Turkey; however, online voting has started to gain popularity nowadays. At this point, a question comes to mind: is today’s so called tech-savvy generation ready for such an enormous change or is this new approach likely to cause insurmountable problems as to technical issues? Before having deep biases against this regulation, we must surely touch upon both upsides and the potential pitfalls of this issue thoroughly.
To begin with the advantages of this novelty, it can be easily asserted that, in this respect, the voting process is likely to be easier and more accessible than ever before. Instead of waiting in a line to place one’s ballot in the ballot box, now, people can cash in on the ample opportunities of technology. It goes without saying that engaging young people who are the hardest to reach will undoubtedly be an enviable growth in terms of parents. Equally important, greater secrecy for special populations of electors with disabilities can be provided more effectively. In addition, authorities can more easily make the most of technological opportunities and get the results of the election faster and more accurately. Another fruitful outcome of electronic voting is the potential to be less expensive. If we take the expenses and time spent for voting into account, we rightly start to show more interest in this novel approach.
When it comes to the disadvantages of online voting that convey various perspectives, we must initially mention security. By and large, unreliable software, threats of computer viruses and hackers pull people into vortex of negativity while surfing on the net. With regard to the election process, those menaces are likely to increase considerably. Potential problems with access, for example, pose a serious risk of digital divide. Living in a developing country, our citizens are perpetually considered non progressive and uninterested in technological developments. Let alone the technologically illiterate majority, there will be numerous technical issues such as connection problems and electricity shortages. Strange to say, although almost all Turkish citizens are deemed to be keeping pace with technology, most of them cannot afford the expenses of the net or updating of machines. In a nutshell, computer illiteracy is the underlying reason  why we are not ready for such a change.
To sum up, the above mentioned examples are more than adequate to support the argument that before undertaking such a huge enterprise, Turkey must dwell on its infrastructure development. On the other hand, while assessing the effectiveness of electronic voting in terms of its practicability and convenience, we should not belittle its possible advantages as well.

HAVVANUR ZAFER Program 2, May 2015


Increasing labor productivity is in all managers’ interest. There is a lot they can do this. Do your research and write an essay suggesting solutions to the problem.
Reading material to make notes on
·         “Viewpoint: why do people waste so much time at the office?”
·         “Labor productivity growth”
·         “Ways to improve labor productivity”
·         “How do I improve labor productivity?”
Videos to make notes on:

·         Strategy - How to make your employees more productive 

·         “Animation: tell your boss what motivates you”
·         “The power of small wins”
·         Stamford company proving happy workers make for more productivity
“ Ten ways to motivate employees”

Monday, May 25, 2015


The advertising sector is the main stay of the business world as it promotes sales and increases profits. Anything which is bought and sold on the market, i.e. commodities, can be advertised. Commodities in this sense include people, services and products one example of which is junk food. The growing popularity of junk food in the modern world cannot be denied but is it really necessary to promote something so harmful? The answer is no; banning the advertising of junk food and fast food is beneficial both for the individual and the state.
The main attraction of junk food is the carbohydrates, the fat and sugar content; it is comfort food, it is filling and it is cheap. This is hard to argue with but it doesn’t mean this food is healthy and has no long term drawbacks. Advertisements cannot be justified just because someone likes the taste of something. Lots of people like the taste of alcohol but advertising it is forbidden. Similarly, people enjoy smoking but the advertising of tobacco products is strictly forbidden.  Junk food should be in the same category because it causes obesity, which in turn leads to heart disease, cancer and diabetes all of which are killers. Laws should be fair: if products that are harmful cannot be advertised this should include junk food too. Claiming that this law should not be applied to junk food because people like the taste or it is cheap makes no sense. People like the taste of a lot of harmful things and through more awareness; they can learn to eat a healthy diet without spending too much. Individuals make up society and what is bad for one, is bad for the other; the same is true here.
The promotion of junk food via advertisements and increase in obesity related illnesses, the big killers, affects society as a whole too since the health services have to deal with these people. The amount of money spent on treating people with heart or cardio vascular disease each year for example is phenomenal; plus, it is completely unnecessary. Putting junk food in the same category as cigarettes and alcohol will solve the problem by reducing sales and victims. As a result the money saved could be diverted to those who really need help through no fault of their own. It could be claimed that people should have the freedom to select what they want to eat and if they want to die young, that is their problem. However, in a democracy one person’s freedom is limited by another’s and if the diseases these people inevitably incur impact society as a whole, society has the right to say no.
In conclusion, no harmful substance should be advertised and this includes fast food, sugary drinks, sweets and the like. Public health is the governments concern, which gives them the right to ban the promotion of any product which is deemed harmful. In this respect, junk food is no different from alcohol or tobacco.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Do your research and tell the story of one of the water shed moments of history: The Black Death
How it all started:
Reading material to make notes on:
·         “Black Death” Make sure to watch all three videos
·         “The Black Death”
·         “Social and economic effects of the Plague”
·         “Economic impact of the Black Death”
Videos and documentaries:
·         “Effect of the Black Death”
·         The Black Death: Influence on Culture and Religion

·         “Black Death consequences”


Do your research into this horrific system where racism is enshrined in the laws and tell the story.
Familiarize yourself with the issue:
·         “Introduction to Apartheid” 
·         “South Africa and Apartheid”
·         “Apartheid”  
·         “South Africa profile” 
Reading material to make notes on:
·         “History of Apartheid in South Africa” Remember to click next
·         “Apartheid”
Videos and documentaries:
·         “The Apartheid Era in South Africa”
·         “Apartheid explained”


Thanks to modern technology, people now become aware of everything happening around the world in a matter of seconds: images and comments appear on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, updates are provided in hourly news broadcasts and the ribbons at the bottom of the screen. The mantra of the press is that it is their duty to provide the public with correct information about everything that is taking place in the world whatever the nature of the event. Earthquakes, shootouts, celebrations and commemorations all receive coverage. Yet there are some who would wish to edit this list: they are in favor of lulling the public into a false sense of security and shielding them from bad news yet this can be very harmful in the long run.

It is true that children and other vulnerable people need to be shielded from some of the evil in the world until they are capable of correctly evaluating the nature of an event. Small children should not watch scenes from a bombed marketplace in Iraq or the aftermath of the shootout at Sandyhook elementary school. However, this doesn’t mean their parents shouldn’t watch this stuff. How else can people get a true picture of the world we are living in but by actually knowing what is going on? It was the broadcasting of the images from Abu Graib that brought the horrific torture there to light; the images and news concerning the event did not turn people into psychopaths overnight due to the simple fact that most people are moved by such images and forced into action to put a stop to the event. In short, the only way to eliminate the evil from the world is to bring it out into the open so it can be stamped out. Closing one’s eyes to what is going on just makes the problem more entrenched. If one cannot bear to watch certain images or read certain news, one can always switch channels.

Another point worth remembering is that the manipulation of the content of news is the hallmark of totalitarian regimes. It is all very well to say one is trying to protect the public and encourage good behavior but this is what North Korean leaders say as well. The idea that people can be lulled into a false sense of security and made to believe they are living in paradise surrounded by angels is very misguided. The public does wake up eventually as “truth will out”. The consequences of such increased consciousness are often social upheaval. Besides, in the modern world it is downright impossible to stop the flow of information whether good or bad so one might as well bite the bullet and tell the truth. In short,  “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” ; it is not possible to preserve the innocence of childhood into adulthood.

In conclusion, although some may be motivated by a completely naïve idea that shielding people from evil will help stamp it out and help encourage good behavior, this is far from being the case. Limiting the content of the news is impossible and counterproductive and should never be considered as an option.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Procreation is the basic instinct of the whole of the animal kingdom including humans, who, once they are married and a certain amount of time has passed by, feel the uncontrollable urge to have children. Undeniable though this desire is, some stop at one child whereas others have as many as a dozen. The latter type of parent is hard to understand as the need to have more children when one already has perfection makes no sense. Having only one child is the right decision in the modern world both in terms of the parents and the child not to mention the society as a whole.
Modern parents get married much later in the modern world: they graduate from university, get a job, rise in the ranks so as to be able to earn better and only then put down roots. The idea of bringing a new life into the world remains on the back burner for another couple of years while couples enjoy their new life together. The child, when he arrives, is born to mature parents with active professional lives, hobbies and interests and an active social life, all of which they want their child to enjoy as well. This being the case, it doesn’t make financial or practical sense to divide the pie among numerous mouths; one child can enjoy far more financial advantages. He can get the best possible education and get a much better start in life. From the parents’ point of view, taking maternity and paternity leave once in a life time is more than enough; people in the modern world have lives to get back to. There is the concern that the only child will have to carry the parents’ responsibility alone in old age but this is a very outdated view. Modern families save for retirement, have pension funds or prefer sheltered accommodation in old age; they neither expect nor want their children to wait on them hand and feet. To misquote Marx, “To each according to his means” holds very true for modern families be they well to do or not.
The only child is mistakenly assumed to be a lonely, maladjusted and thoroughly selfish sociopath but this is very far from being true as his social life rivals his parents’: he goes to the play center and then to kindergarten from the word go acquiring a social circle with whom he interacts on a daily basis learning social skills his parents acquired much later in life. He is soon being ferried to music lessons, swimming practice, basketball and the like, which makes coming back to a bed room he shares with no one a great pleasure. His toys and other belongings are just where he left them; nothing has been taken or broken and never will be. Lonely summer holidays are an alien concept in the modern world where kids go to camp or summer school returning home healthy but exhausted. The only child can look forward to the best education money can buy and therefore, the best possible start in life. He is also the only heir and when death finally catches up with his parents: the family home and the bank account go to him without being split three or four ways. In short, people don’t live in their own little bubbles and one’s social circle more than makes up for siblings.
To cut a long story short, an only child makes financial, practical and emotional sense. It also gives parents an opportunity to enjoy their own lives instead of working their fingers to the bone trying to raise a little troupe of children. Masochism of this kind requires a trip to a therapist. People should do themselves and their child a favor by not saddling him with a sibling

Monday, May 18, 2015


Humans are social creatures and thrive on close social and personal contact and relationships. This being the case, friends are vital for everyone.  There are various criteria governing friendship such as proximity in age, shared hobbies and interests, a similar cultural or family background, world view and the like. Some would like to include gender in this list as well yet they are seriously mistaken; gender is irrelevant when forming friendships.

The cliche that men and women can’t be friends dates back to the period when the social status as well as the social standing of women was very different. In the past, women went to school for a much shorter period of time, did not work outside the home and certainly did not go to university. Their field of interest was considered to be the home and children so naturally, friendship in the modern sense was harder – there being little share. Nowadays, the lines between gender roles are becoming blurred with the dissapearance in the difference between levels of education and participation in the job market. The obvious result of all this is the ever widening common ground of interests. In a world like this, gender is irrelevant.  The greater the level of industrialization and development in a country, the greater the possibility of friendship between men and women.

The misconception that all men or women see members of the opposite sex as potential mates is also linked to levels of industrialization and modernization. In western societies where women and men share healthy relationships in society, people don’t see the first person they meet of the opposite sex as a potential mate. Love and attraction in this sense is reserved for a specific individual who ticks a different set of boxes than a fellow worker or classmate of the opposite sex. To assume that men and women are ready to fall for any individual of the oppsite sex and therefore, cannot be friends is a gross oversimplification and completely wrong. This view is only prevelant in highly conservative and ultra religious societies governed by taboos and will disappear along with modernization just like it has in the Western world.

To cut a long story short, modernization and industrialization are changing  the social roles and status of women in society and causing the sharp distinction between them  to melt away. This ongoing process is making friendship between men and women just as normal as any other friendship and thus enriching people’s lives.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Children are, by definition, minors which means they are not considered legally mature enough to make crucial decisions on their own. They are not allowed to vote, drink, smoke, go to clubs, go anywhere  unaccompanied by adults. They are legally required to go to school up to a certain age and parents are liable to be punished if they mistreat or neglect their children in any way. This being the case, parental control is absolutely natural; the issue is the amount and extent of the control. A balance needs to be struck between protection and absolute control.
It is only natural for parents to want to protect their precious children from the dangers in the evil world yet the world isn’t populated with psychopaths, pedophiles and mass murderers; they are in the minority and according to the laws of probability, most of one’s neighbours are perfectly normal people. Your friendly local grocer is just that; a harmless and friendly man; the man next door has a wife and children and shares the same concerns you do. The teachers care about the children and every adult in the park isn’t waiting to abduct your kid. If too much control is exercised and children are wrapped in cotton wool, they will never learn to stand on their own feet and will be turning to their parents for help for the simplest of things late into their teens. Caring is natural but becoming obsessive is not. Loving your children is normal and expected but becoming a petty dictator is not.
The degree of permissiveness is naturally important and should be linked to the level of maturity and personality of the child. A four year old is not expected to run errands for his mother but should be able to negotiate the park with his little friends within sight of his mother who can intervene when necessary. A primary school student should be able to stop off at the grocer’s on the way home but not go to the cinema or theme park unaccompanied by adults. It is this kind of freedom which prevents the child from becoming a dependent child and teaches him about the responsibilities and expectations involved in communal living. There is nothing worse than treating a kid like royalty and waiting on him hand and foot. Overprotection breeds fear and complexes which are detrimental to future social relationships. The same is true for responsibility: a child cannot develop a sense of responsibility if he is never required to take any. If you don’t want your twenty year old daughter to say she cannot return home on her own from a friend’s house because she doesn’t know which bus to take and is afraid to find out, you have a problem.  Too much control cripples and prevents the individual from reaching his full potential so a happy medium needs to be reached between the desire to protect and personality development.

In short, it is never easy to determine the extent of permissiveness parents should exercise but too much of most things is bad. This is also true for the amount of control the child is subjected to. Parents should weigh the pros and cons, consider future implications and strike a balance. Falling into the protection trap is a big mistake. 


Do your research and tell the story of the world famous Spanish architect Antonio Gaudi. Make sure to comment on his works in your essay. Have fun.
Reading material to make notes on:
·         “Antonio Gaudi”
·         “Works of Antonio Gaudi”
Videos to watch and make notes on:
·         “Gaudi and the miraculous building”
·         “Antonio Gaudi the unfinished vision”
Podcast to listen to and make notes on:
·         “Gaudi”

Thursday, May 7, 2015

IELTS essay topic: “In the modern world, shopping has become more of a pastime” To what extent do you agree with the above statement?

Shopping dates back to settled communities where people were finally able to produce more than they needed and had a surplus which they bartered or sold. The more complex and advanced settled communities became, the more the variety on the market. Initially, the purpose of shopping was supplying a basic need. However, this has changed in the modern capitalist society: nowadays shopping is not only a necessary activity but also a pleasure or a pastime.
The basic reason why shopping has metamorphosed into a pastime is modern capitalism and the free market economy. In order for the economy to grow, consumers are required to consume ever more quantities of goods, which means they have to be persuaded to buy what they may feel, at first sight, they don’t need. This philosophy ushered in the advertising sector to do the brainwashing. Needless to say, they were extremely effective and the concept of keeping up with the Jones’ was born. Although some would claim that they are impervious to the effects of advertising, they are seriously deluded. Modern advertising makes use of every trick in the book to achieve success. In short, it is impossible, in the modern world, to state that shopping is not only a daily chore; it is a pleasure, a status symbol and a pastime.
Shopping having established itself as a free time activity on a par with a visit to the cinema, a restaurant or a café, the term ‘window shopping’ was born with people setting off on an afternoon’s entertainment involving wandering around the shopping district or malls and buying what takes their fancy. Shops exploit this new trend by incorporating cafes and restaurants in their shops thereby adding fuel to the fire. The obvious conclusion to be drawn from all this is that although people still shop for basic requirements, they also shop for pleasure. They may claim that they are only going to look and not buy but this only proves that shopping is seen as a leisure activity; whether they end up actually buying something is beside the point.
To sum up, the main purpose of shopping used to be supplying basic needs but nowadays it is no longer the sole purpose; entertainment has also entered the picture. This trend has been made possible by the free market economy and the development of modern capitalism and the fact that people have money to burn. Buying ever more goods and then exchanging them for others is the mantra of the modern world.

IELTS essay topic: Should the individual circumstances of each offender be considered by the judge or should the punishment for a crime be fixed notwithsatanding the different circumstances?

 Living together in well established communities has also meant the incidence of crime, or the breaking of the rules established for communal living, has increased, which has, in turn, meant that punitive measures of various sorts have become the norm. The nature of these punitive measures has changed over the years becoming more humanitarian and less vengeful. One consequence of this trend has been consideration of the individual circumstances of each crime rather than a ‘ one prescription fits all’ approach. Undeniably, greater justice is achieved by considereing each case individually rather than lumping things together.

The personal experiences and background of the perpetrator of any crime are also a factor and determine the type of person an individual becomes and should, therefore, be studied before sentence is passed. For example, a freshman student at Eskişehir university first stabbed and then slowly drowned her pet cat and was sentenced to 3 years of imprisonment for mistreating an animal. Yet killing and torturing animals is the sign of a sociopath. The background of this person was completely disregarded. We do not know if this is her first crime against animals; probably not as she is a university student. Mistreating animals is only the first step; this person will most probably move on to murder. The question is not whether she will or not; it is when she will do so. Similarly, genuine regret is often not distinguished sufficiently from play acting. A third consideration would be past suffering, abuse or mistreatment. A lifetime of physical and psychological abuse can do untold damage to an individual psyche and a violent crime committed by such an individual should not be considered on a par with that of the average cold blooded killer. In short, real justice is only possible when the full picture is considerted; just skimming the surface may satisfy some but it is not fair.

To sum up, a comprehensive picture of the circumstances of the crime as well as the perpetrator including the factors that made him the person he is should be taken into account if justice in the real sense is to be metted out. Sweeping all this under the carpet just for a quick result is no way to go about achieving justice in criminal procedure

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


What do you know about the gun powder plot? Do your research and tell the story.
Familiarize yourself with the issue
·         “Who was Guy Fawks?”
Reading material to make notes on
·         “The Gunpowder plot”
Videos to watch and make notes on:
·         The Gunpowder Plot 1: Stories from Parliament

·         The Gunpowder Plot 2: Stories from Parliament

·         “What caused the gunpowder treason”  
Documentary to watch and make notes on:
·         BBC Documentary:

·         The Gunpowder Plot Exploding the Legend