Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Where is Aston Hall? What happened there and what can be learnt from all that took place. Do your reading, listen to the radio program and write an essay on the topic.
Familiarize yourself with the issue
Listen to the program on Radio 4
·         What happened Aston Hall hospital?
Reading material to make notes on
·         What happened at the hospital that experimented on child patients?
·         Aston Hall investigation (Check out the related links as well)

·         Doctor carried out experiments on patients at mental hospital

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Boredom is not just one of those unpleasant feelings we occasionally experience; there is more to it than that. It can have disastrous consequences and according to research, may have some interesting advantages. Do your research and write an essay in which you discuss both the negative and the positive effects of boredom.
Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays:  
Familiarize yourself with the topic
Reading material to make notes on
·         Is boredom bad for your health?
·         Psychology: why boredom is bad   
Videos to watch and take notes from
·         Boredom
·         Why you are trying to beat boredom the wrong way
·         In praise of boredom

·         Boredom: a source of inspiration

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


People who leave their home countries to try and make their homes elsewhere are called migrants, asylum seekers or refugees. These terms are not synonyms and there are important distinctions between them. Do your research and determine what they are; then, write an essay comparing and contrasting them in order to better understand the issue.
Cartoon: contributed by Kerem Demirkesen
·         EU learning project: Refugee and migrant crisis 
Familiarize yourself with the issue
·         Refugee versus migrant
Reading material to make notes on
·         What is the difference between a migrant, a refugee and an asylum seeker?
Video to watch and take notes from
·         The difference between a refugee, a migrant or asylum seeker
     Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays:  

Monday, July 11, 2016


Elections and referendums are the cornerstones of democracy; therefore, it is important to know what factors influence voter behavior. Why do people vote the way they do? Do your research and find out. Then write an essay in which you discuss the factors that determine voter behavior.
Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays:  

Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays:  
Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays:  
Familiarize yourself with the issue
·         What factors influence voting behavior
Reading material to make notes on
·         Analyzing voting behavior
Podcast to take notes from
·         Voter behavior
Screencast to listen to and take notes from
·         Voting behavior Part 2 (This video was prepared for A level sociology students in the UK)
·         Class and voting behavior   
Videos to take notes from

·         Voting Behavior


The ability to listen and to truly engage is a skill that is rapidly being lost yet it is the single most important skill that will help bring people together. Take the test and discover where you stand then do your reading and viewing to discover how you can better yourself. Then write an essay in which you explain how people can become better listeners.
Starting out
Reading material to make notes on
·         9 Things good listeners do differently
·         How to be a good listener
·         Effective listening  
Videos to watch and take notes from
·         How to be a good listener
·         5 Ways to listen better

·         10 Ways to have a better conversation

      Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays:  


“Our voting system worked well for decades but now it is broken. There is a better way to give voice to the people”
By: David Van Reybrouck
Level of Difficulty: ****
Note to the student or teacher: this activity is unsuited to class work and can only work as a self study exercise as it is rather long. It is difficult to find a text of this level of difficulty that isn’t.
1.       BREXIT is described in the text as a blow to democracy because of two reasons referendums are…………………………and the electorate was………………………………………………
2.       The people who took part in the World Values Survey seemed…(Mark as many as appropriate)
·         To value democracy above all else
·         To value totalitarian leaders above all else
·         To want to have their cake and eat it
·         To be fed up with democracy
·         To be contradicting themselves
3.       The negative attitude of Europeans to political parties and democratic institutions is a serious threat to democracy because…(use your own words to interpret the message in the text)
4.       According to the writer the growing distrust should also mean that people start to…
5.       Read the quote from Jean Jacque Rousseau. This example has been included in the text to support the view that:…
6.       Which sentence constitutes the thesis statement of the text?
7.       The list of examples including Spain Austria and Belgium all prove that….
8.       The procedure is to blame for democratic fatigue syndrome because the electorate are…(Select as many as appropriate)
·         Misled
·         Mistreated
·         Mishandled
·         Kept in the dark
·         Not given a voice
·         Denied opportunities to think
·         Denied opportunities to discuss
9.       The mistake we make when interpreting the message of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is…
10.   The writer is critical of the belief that the way to introduce democracy to developing countries is that
11.   What truly democratic institutions do donor countries seem to disregard?
12.   By comparing the export of democracy to commerce the writer is implying that we are… (Select as many as appropriate)
·         Oversimplifying the system
·         Disregarding the philosophy
·         Misdirecting peoples
·         Defeating our purpose
13.   Are the following true or false according to the text?
·         In the case of democracy, the widely held belief is that one prescription fits all
·         The belief in elections can be compared to religious fervor
·         The fact that elections worked in the past means they can work today
14.   The writer believes that we need to rethink the role and function of elections because there has been a radical change in …………………………………………….since they were first proposed.
15.   We understand from the text that the current system worked well in the post second world war years because the major parties……………………………………………..
16.   There is a negative correlation between the birth of……………………………and ……………………
17.   Read the quote from Colin Crouch and the example that follows. Now decide whether the following statement is true or false:
Elections are the only true way to ascertain the will of the people and for them to participate in government”
18.   The birth and spread of social media involvement should have helped the development of democracy by giving people a voice. What is the catch?
19.   The reasons for the above have nothing to do with painting a true picture and everything to do with ….
20.   The behavior of commercial and social media has, in effect, put …….front and center whereas it should be ………………………….that take precedence.
21.   The solution the writer proposes involves
·         Limiting the number of people involved in policy decisions.
·         Returning to the Athenian model of direct democracy
·         Not having people queuing up at polling booths every 4 or 5 years
·         Letting people who care about their communities be heard
22.   What is the underlying logic of sortition?
23.   The Irish experience with sortition proved that this system of drafting works because…
24.   It is implied in the text that sortition would have prevented BREXIT because
·         Everyone would have contributed directly to the decision making
·         There would have been better understanding of the issue
·         More time would have been spent weighing the pros and cons
·         Everyone would have been able to talk to each other
25.   What are the basic advantages of sortition?
26.   The purpose of the jury example is to show that………………………….
27.   The purpose for the mention of the Netherlands example is to show that…………..
28.   How does the writer refute the main argument against sortition?  By indicating that……………………………………………..
29.   Read the last paragraph and decide which of the phrases below could be correctly used to complete the sentence: If David Cameron had resorted to sortition,
·         He would have upheld democracy more successfully
·         He would have gained a better understanding of public wishes
·         He would have been in a better position to govern
·         He would have gained worldwide acclaim
·         He would have become a democratic leader
Use the videos and the text to write an argumentative essay on whether or not sortition can help make our society more truly democratic and whether it will help promote effective public engagement.  
This is a sophisticated essay on a very thought provoking issue: the role of elections and referenda in democracy. As such, it is long, complex and very well argued. This being the case, it is completely unsuitable for class work. The student does not even need to complete the text at one go; there are natural stopping places. The essay task needs to  be completed at one go however.
1.       Are primitive procedures; disenchanted and poorly informed
2.       3 and 5; the others are too strong
3.       The system may collapse (The phrase “How much derision can a system endure…” implies that it cannot endure this much derision)
4.       To ask whether elections in their current form are a badly outmoded technology…/ OR reflect on the tools that our democracies use
5.       The system of delegation to an elected representative may have been necessary in the past but…
6.       Referendums and elections are both arcane instruments of public deliberation. The rest of the paragraph is support.
7.       By refusing to change procedures, we have made political instability and turmoil defining features of modern democracy
8.       1, 4 and 7
9.       Seeing the specific method as a basic right, as if the procedure in itself was sacred
10.   They hold elections, preferably in the Western model
11.   Village meetings, conflict mediation and ancient jurisprudence
12.   All four are correct
13.   T, T, F
14.   Context
15.   Succeeded in being close to the lives of individual citizens
16.   Commercial mass media and organized civil society
17.   False
18.   Commercial and social media reinforce one another – picking up each other’s news and bouncing it back to create an atmosphere of perpetual mudslinging.
19.   Tough competition, loss of advertising revenue and falling sales
20.   Short term and party interests / long term and the common interest
21.   The first
22.   A cross section of society that is informed can act more coherently than an entire society that is uninformed
23.   By talking to a diverse cross-section of Irish society, politicians could get further than they could have by just talking to each other; by exchanging views with elected officials, citizens could give much more relevant input…
24.   The second
25.   The risk of corruption is reduced, election fever abates and attention to the common good increases
26.   Many countries rely on the principle of sortition.
27.   Sortition is becoming a permanent feature of modern democracy
28.   The elected need staff and researchers to fill the gaps in their expertise
29.   1,2,5