Monday, October 31, 2016


“Science says lasting relationships come down to – you guessed it – kindness and generosity”
By: Emily Esfahani Smith
Level of Difficulty: **
The text concerns the views and findings of John Gottman. Before you tackle it, watch the following videos and make a note of the findings. This will enable you to understand the text better.
·         Making Relationships Work | Part 1 | Dr. John Gottman
·         Making relationships Work / Part 2/ Dr. John Gottman
·         Making Relationships Work | Part 3 | Dr. John Gottman
·         Making Relationships Work | Part 4 | Dr. John Gottman
1.       What misconception does the writer draw attention to at the beginning of the text? Marriage means…..
2.       The first studies involving marriages were triggered by….
3.       What predictor of future relationship problems did Gottman and Levenson observe during their experiments?
4.       What was it that the masters succeeded in establishing that the disasters failed to establish?
5.       Read the example of the 1990 study to the end. What seems to determine the strength of a relationship?
·         Healthy conversation
·         Common hobbies
·         Mutual respect
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
·         Other please specify
6.       Whether a marriage will be long lasting or not can be determined quite early on by observing spouses attitudes towards each other / world views / their outlook on life .
7.       Consider the following example: a man comes home to dinner. The food is not cooked quite the way he likes it but the table is beautifully set and his wife is looking beautiful. How would a master react? Use your own words.
8.       Consider the following example: a couple is sitting at the dinner table eating. The husband is engrossed in his smartphone. The wife makes a few attempts to get through to him but gets no response. How does she feel?
9.       The quotation from Romeo and Juliet is provided to support the view that ….
10.   Look back at question 8. What long term impact could such an attitude have if it persists?
11.   Consider the following two examples; which is more damaging to the relationship? Why?
a.       You have done it again! There is far too much salt in this food. I have told you a hundred times not to empty the salt cellar into the pan! How many times do I have to tell you that I have high blood pressure
b.      There is a little too much salt in this food for my taste. If you like you can cook the food without salt in the future and we can add it at the table
12.   Read the example of the toilet seat and the dinner date. What is the take-home point from these two examples?
13.   How should each spouse have reacted?
·         Absent-mindedly
·         Excitedly
·         Softly
·         Sympathetically
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
14.   A woman comes in and says excitedly “I have passed my driving test!” Her husband responds as follows:
·         Wonderful! I am so proud of you! I knew you would pass
·         I don’t believe it! The Cubs have won! They are going to win the cup
·         Do you think you are ready to face the city traffic? You should probably leave the Maserati to me ; best be safe.
·         What? Oh good, good
15.   There seems to be positive correlation between the success of a marriage and the degree of………………….
Use the text and the videos to write about the key to a successful marriage. Alternatively you can write about the reasons for divorce. First of all, watch the following video:

·         John Gottman's The Seven Principles Presentation

This reading task comes with a pretty special bonus: a series of videos that cover pretty much everything in the text presented by the psychologist who is the focus of the text. What more could one want? So this task is a full listening task and a reading task and a writing task.
1.       Committing to a lifelong relationship that will be full of friendship, joy, and love that will carry them forward to their final days on earth.
2.       The unprecedented divorce rates in the 1970’s
3.       Quick heart rates, active sweat glands and fast blood flow
4.       A climate of trust and intimacy that made both of them more emotionally thus physically comfortable
5.       Other: the extent of interest and support in the relationship; OR, whether couples turn towards or away from each other; OR, how they respond to a bid
6.       All three
7.       Possible answer: you look lovely tonight. Doesn’t the table look beautiful; you shouldn’t have gone to all this trouble
8.       Worthless and invisible
9.       Kindness glues couples together OR Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood and validated – feel loved
10.   It could create distance between partners and breed resentment
11.   The first because there is no kindness
12.   Even in relationships where people are frustrated, it is almost always the case that there are positive things going on and people trying to do the right thing. OR a lot of times a partner is trying to do the right thing although it is executed poorly
13.   Sympathetically
14.   The cubs: passive destructive; what: passive constructive; Maserati: active destructive; The driving test: active constructive
15.   Active constructive responding

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Many think that a cashless society is a pipe dream but this is far from being the case. In fact, the move towards such a society has already started big time (See the map below). Do your research and decide whether such a system would have more benefits or drawbacks. When you are ready, write an essay in which you discuss the advantages and disadvantages.
Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays:  
How do different countries stand?
·         The shift to a cashless society is snowballing 
Familiarize yourself with the issue:
·         A cashless society
·         Pros and cons of a cashless society 
Reading material to make notes on
·         Sweden leads the race to become cashless society
·         What happens when we become a cashless society?
·         Cashless society
Videos to watch and take notes from
·         Cashless Society Will Make BANK RUNS Impossible as Nations Begin to Collapse!
·         CASHLESS SOCIETY - Sweden Is Leading The Way for a Future Without Cash
The Ripple Effects of a Cashless Society | Richard Wright | TEDxPeachtree

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


“Your past is not your own. Through simple nudges, your friends, colleagues and strangers can change your recollections in ways you will never realize”
By: David Robson
Level of Difficulty: **
Watch the following videos and think about them
·         Implanting false memories
·         How reliable is your memory?
1.       What is the major reason why our memories are so important?
2.       What conclusion can be drawn from the paragraph beginning “Except”?
3.       What conclusion can be drawn from the paragraph beginning “It Takes”.
·         Memories are closely linked to nostalgia
·         Memories require revision and rehearsal
·         Memories are closely linked to our intentions
·         Other: other please specify
4.       Look back at the first four paragraphs of the text. What subtitle would you give this section?
·         The memory palace
·         Ghost writers at work
·         The truth about memories
·         Manipulation of the mind
5.       We learn from the example of John and Jane that collaborative inhibition involves memories…………………
6.       Why do the police prefer to interview witnesses separately rather than in groups? Because one witness may……………
7.       We learn from the example of the wedding that people can actually….
·         Lead others to ignore details
·         Lead others to suppress thoughts
·         Lead others to forget thoughts
·         All of the above
·         None of the above
·         Other: please specify
8.       Look back at question 7. Why do people allow this to happen?
9.       We understand from the example of the murder of Anna Lindh that … Mark TRUE or FALSE
·         Many people thought the perpetrator was wearing a baggy, green army jacket
·         Some people may have known the perpetrator was wearing a grey sweater
·         We cannot always trust witness testimony
·         Interviewing witnesses as a group is probably a good idea
10.   We understand from the examples concerning false memories that they are easily modified / resistant to change/ completely unreliable / difficult to remember.
11.   Robert Nash’s memory of Trevor McDonald being at his graduation is an example of a questionable memory / a non-believed memory/ a false memory / a plausible memory. Select as many as necessary.
12.   What reason is given in the text for people’s unwillingness to vet questionable memories?
13.   Mutual memories provide a bonus for people as they form the basis for…….
14.   Common memories shared by large groups of people benefit society by ………………….
Use all you have learned to explain the reasons why we cannot trust our memories completely
This fascinating text about how unreliable are memories are has been written in such a way that I had to focus my attention on questions requiring students to summarize or draw conclusions. I have, however, tried to provide variety.
1.       They define who we are
2.       Our memories are constantly being reshaped by social interactions
3.       Other: memory is rarely a solitary activity
4.       The truth about memories. The first and the second are too narrow in focus and the fourth is misleading
5.       Being impaired by discussion
6.       Inhibit another’s ability to remember with full potential
7.       All of the above
8.       Because it requires too much effort OR Because you have to be really motivated to go beyond what people are talking about.
9.       T, T, T, F
10.   Resistant to change
11.   A questionable memory, a non-believed memory
12.   People don’t question their memories enough to think it’s worth putting in the effort.
13.   The longest, strongest and most trusting friendships
14.   Promoting a common understanding of the past

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Groping, whistling, catcalling and similar forms of harassment are still very common almost everywhere in the world. Why do men do it and how can the problem be dealt with? Do your research and write an essay in which you describe the problem and suggest solutions.

This writing task was prepared as a response to certain unpleasant incidents that have occurred recently

Reading material to make notes on
·         The difficulty of dealing with groping
·         Groping incident reveals reasons for reluctance to report
Videos to watch and make notes on
·         Groping and Harassment; BBC Radio program ;

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


Wednesday, October 19, 2016


“Overwhelmed? It can seem like we’re busier than ever, but that’s not quite true, says Oliver Burkeman, who has been exploring the topic in a new series for BBC Radio 4.”
By: Oliver Burkeman
Level of Difficulty: **
Watch the following videos, make a few notes and have a think about the problems presented
·         The Disease of Being Busy and How It Affects Us, Tessitura’s Innovator Series
·         I am too busy! How can we get out of the busyness trap?
1.       Read the first two paragraphs of the text and decide whether the following statements are true or false:
·         People in the modern world are busier than they think
·         People in the modern world feel very busy
·         People in the modern world have too much to do
·         People in the modern world are inundated with work
·         People work the same way people in the past did
·         People in the modern world think they are neglecting their kids
2.       Read the paragraph beginning “What’s going on?” Which of the following sentences could be placed at the end of this paragraph?
·         In short, both the state of the economy and the limits set to employment in the modern world alter people’s perspectives
·         In short both changing attitudes to time and the nature of work in the modern world alter people’s perspectives
·         In short, both the value of time and labor in the modern world alter people’s perspectives.
·         In short, both rising incomes and the lack of physically punishing labor alter people’s perspectives
3.       We understand from the text that there is / there isn’t no discernable limit to the amount of work that can be done in a day. The reason for this is the transformation of work to …………..
4.       Why does time pressure negatively impact the quality of performance and less empathy?
5.       The example of Maria Popova’s hobby is given as an example to prove that….
6.       What proof does the writer offer to the contention that our attitude to work is completely nonsensical?
7.       Why is the locksmith’s story ironical? Use your own words.
8.       How should we measure our success?
9.       What does “this” refer to in the sentence “To put it mildly, this makes no sense.”?
Use the information in the text and the videos to write about busyness trap; focus on both the causes and the solutions .
This text focuses on a very common problem in the modern world that we should all think about because it prevents us from getting the most out of life: the busyness trap. The beauty is that it is a relatively simple text which can be easily understood and discussed. The writing task requires students to focus both on the problem itself and the solutions, which to me, seems more logical.
1.       F, T, F,F, F, T
2.       The second
3.       There is (There isn’t a limit but we cannot use a double negative), knowledge work
4.       Because feelings of scarcity, whether money or time, prey on the mind, thereby impairing decision making.
5.       The busy feeling has spread to infect our leisure time
6.        Possible answer: the fact that Freedom not to work was the ultimate symbol of wealth, social achievement and superiority in the past and that now busyness has become the indicator of high status
7.       Possible answer: People thought he deserved to be tipped when he was inexperienced and took longer to complete a task but not when he grew better at it and worked faster
8.       According to the results we achieve
9.       Living frenetic lives because it makes us feel good about ourselves

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


If you are worried about your addiction to technology and blame yourself, you need to think again. Do your research on persuasive technologies and describe what they are and how they work.
Familiarize yourself with the issue
·         Tech guilt: 5 'persuasive' technologies to help you be good
·         Faster, stronger, better - A guide for persuasive behavior change  
Reading material to make notes on
·         Technology and persuasion
·         The Invisible, Manipulative Power of Persuasive Technology

Video to watch and take notes from
·         Persuasive technologies


In the modern world, getting into university is believed to be vital if one is to have any hope of finding a good job. Now, however, there is a second alternative: degree apprenticeships. Do your research and find out what this program entails and write an essay.
Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays:  
Familiarize yourself with the issue:
Reading material to make notes on
·         The dept free alternative to university
Videos to watch and take notes from
·         Goldman Sachs supports technology apprentices in London

·         Degree apprenticeships launch for the digital and technology space

Monday, October 17, 2016


By: Bobby Azarian
Level of Difficulty: ***
Watch the following videos and make a few notes:
·         A Virus Called Fear and why it distorts our perceptions.
·         Understanding Cognitive Distortions
1.       Start reading the text and decide where the introduction ends. What is the function of the last sentence of the introduction?
2.       Look back at the introduction of the text and answer the following questions:
a.       What unexpected point is made in the text concerning anxiety? The fact that…
b.      What does “This” refer to in the phrase “This can have profound consequences? The fact that…
3.       The development of the text is divided into various sections. Start reading the first section, decide how many paragraphs it includes and give it a subtitle. Select from the following short list: Notoriety is the Key,  Place it Center Stage, Publicity Matters, Shine a light on it
4.       Now look back at this section and answer the following questions:
a.       We understand from the first paragraph of this section that there are restrictions /limits / borders / deadlines to the amount of data we can focus on at any given time.
b.      What conclusion can be drawn from the paragraph beginning “We can appreciate…”?
c.       What does “This” refer to in the sentence”This makes reality comprehensible”?
d.      Shifts in the spotlight of our attention take place consciously/ voluntarily/ automatically and are very important because…………………………..
5.       Continue reading and decide where the next section starts and where it ends. Then give it a subtitle. Select from the list that follows: Shift your Attention Quick /The Journey on the Subway / The Spotlight on Overdrive.
6.       Look back at the section you have just read and answer the following questions:
a.       We understand from the paragraph beginning “While” that anxiety causes our attention to become negatively inclined / lop-sided / irrational / threatening (Select the answer that doesn’t fit )
b.      Read the example of the ride on the subway once again. Frequent repetition of similar experiences skews perception because it leads to ……………………………………….
c.       We understand from the 2009 study that the negative bias towards Middle Eastern people is probably involuntary / unwitting / conscious / compulsory / knee jerk. (Select as many as fit)
d.      We can surmise from the text that Trump supporters in the 2016 presidential election had probably focused on……………………………….
e.      Donald Trump, The Republican presidential candidate in the 2016 election campaign painted a bleak picture of USA because ………………………..(Use your own words)
7.       Read on until the end of the text and give this last section a title as well. Select from the list: Recent Research /Light at the End of the Tunnel / Attention Bias Modification Training/ Changing Opinions.
8.       Look at the section you have just read and answer the following questions:
a.       What is the purpose of ABMT?
b.      The success rates of ABTM could be increased by using ……………………
9.       ABTM could contribute to world peace by stopping anxiety from…..
Watch the following videos and write an essay in which you discuss the effects of anxiety:
·         Your brain on stress and anxiety
·         Rethinking anxiety: learning to face fear
·         How to identify and challenge cognitive distortions
This is a well organized text which focuses on a particular problem which it discusses and provides solutions for. Anxiety is a widespread problem and it is interesting to see how it skews our understanding of the world and our perceptions. Hopefully, the text will lead the students to rethink some of their own prejudices
1.       The introduction ends with the words “in which it can be influenced” This last sentence is the thesis statement 
2.       The fact that it changes what we focus our attention on throughout the day.
The fact that anxiety alters what we are conscious of and in turn the way we experience reality
3.       Place it Center Stage; Notoriety means famous for a negative reason,  publicity means the media is involved, shining a light on something indicates the you actively select what to focus on, which is not the case as far as our brains are involved
4.       Limits. The word ‘restrictions’ implies outside interference, the word ‘borders’ is a political or geographical term and the word ‘deadlines’ refers to the time when a project must be completed.
We have a localized spotlight of attention
Focusing only on what is important while ignoring the irrelevant
Automatically, they alert us of something in the environment that may be crucial to survival
5.       It begins “Thanks to evolution” and ends with the sentence beginning “Essentially,…” The Spotlight on Overdrive. The title ‘Shift your Attention Quick’ implies that the person is shifting his attention consciously, and ‘The Train Journey’ implies that the whole section is about a train journey
6.       Threatening; an overly threat conscious appraisal of the environment; involuntary, unwitting knee jerk; Aversive images; possible answer: he wanted to maintain the electorate’s levels of anxiety so they would vote for him.
7.       Light at the End of the Tunnel. ABMT is just one solution mentioned in the text; Recent Research is far too vague; Changing Opinions is also vague plus one app didn’t work so this title would be misleading. The section starts with the words ‘At its worst’ and ends before the last paragraph
8.       To train the brain to habitually focus away from threat and negative information towards positive information; more dynamic tasks that use highly realistic stimuli OR A more lifelike environment
9.       Distorting reality, instilling fear and altering belief systems