Tuesday, November 21, 2017


“The line between truth and lies is becoming ever murkier, finds Melissa Hogenboom. There’s even a new word for a very different form of lying”
By: Melissa Hogenboom
Level of Difficulty: **
·         People Lie Constantly, Especially Online - Robert Feldman
·         Paltering: The Art of Lying Truthfully | Rogers et al 2016 | Social Psychology
1.       Consider the following examples. What exactly is Theresa May trying to do? Read the following and decide:
2.       We understand from the text that paltering is….
3.       It is illogical that we lie at all because…
4.       Which of the following would most people not consider to be lies? Why?
·         Husband to wife at the end of an average meal “That was delicious”
·         Center forward who missed an easy goal “I had a terrible cramp”
·         Student who did badly on a test to students who did well “I really messed up”
5.       In what way do Theresa May’s comments differ from the examples in question four?
6.       Watch the following: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/obama-birth-certificate-trumps-card-13326679  Why did so many people believe the conspiracy concerning Obama?
7.       Why is Trump’s response concerning housing discrimination considered paltering? Use your own words.
8.       Watch the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_z3FUjCVVA Paxman says “Did you threaten to overrule him?” In what way does Paxman’s attitude differ from the average person’s?(Your own words)Why would the average attitude be different?
9.       Read the following example from Lifehacker (https://lifehacker.com/watch-out-for-paltering-techniques-to-spot-a-lie-hidd-1787480207 ): For example, say you’re out buying a TV and a salesman tells you that one really expensive TV comes with 4Kand HDR, which makes it a good long-term purchase. None of those statements are technically inaccurate. The TV does have those features and they do make the TV relatively future-proof. However, the salesman leaves out that they have another TV on the next aisle with those exact same features for half the price. Nothing the salesman said was a lie, and you can even verify those claims, but they used that trust to sell you on a broader picture—namely that you have to spend a lot of money to get a good TV—that wasn’t really true. Examples like these prove that paltering…………………….. and the main reason is that ……………………….
10.   Watch the following video: https://hbr.org/2010/11/people-often-trust-eloquence-m.html There are a lot of people who really dislike Hilary Clinton. What might one reason be? Use your own words.
11.   We can blame parents for encouraging us to believe that….
Use all you have learnt about lying to write about how and why people lie.
This wonderful little text provides incredible scope for delving into a very complex issue. Videos have been worked into the questions to encourage students to develop the habit of doing further research as they read. The videos serve an additional purpose too: they help in the formulation of good inferential questions. The writing task should not be timed to allow students to draw on all the material.
1.       She is lying by telling the truth / She is misleading by telling the truth
2.       The grey area between truth and lies
3.       It costs us considerably more mental effort to lie than to tell the truth
4.       The first two. They are so ordinary and so expected that we just don’t notice them.
5.       Theresa May aims to manipulate or mislead
6.       Because it is difficult to spot a misleading fact when we hear something that on the face of it sounds true.
7.       Because “no admission of guilt” does not mean he was not guilty; it simply means he didn’t admit it.
8.       Possible answer: most people would not keep repeating the question. / Because social norms would prevent them
9.       Is common in everyday life (OR is commonplace) / it is seen as a useful tool
10.   Possible answer: She is a dodger / she is good at paltering
11.   It is at times fine and preferable to lie about things.

Monday, November 20, 2017


“Playing video games can strengthen abilities such as communication and resourcefulness”
By: Kathryn Hulick
Published: Sep 27, 2017, Science News for Students, https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/video-games-level-life-skills
Level of Difficulty: *
·         Ten ways video games affect your brain https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hqkinlW_Hw
1.       Mathew Barr reached an interesting and rather surprising conclusion as a result of a study he conducted: playing video games ….
2.       The above is due to the fact that ………………
3.        What feature of video games develops skills that are demanded in the job market? The fact that…..
4.       What was the purpose of the study Barr carried out? To find out…
5.       The eight games to be played during the study were purposely / randomly selected to test………
6.       At the end of the experiment, was Barr’s initial hypothesis proved or disproved? How do you know?
7.       Why does Barr recommend that schools have video games as extracurricular activities?
8.       Oliver seems to feel that the enshrining of video games is unfair / indispensible / unnecessary / unavoidable because…
Fill in the blanks to complete this summary of the text you have just read. Use words and phrases from the text
Mathew Barr has had firsthand experience of the benefits of gaming and is now studying video games and gamer culture at the University of Glasgow.  He recently 1……. an experiment where he asked 2…………..to play 3…………games. Before the experiment, Barr required the subjects to fill out 4….. to check and see how good their 5………..skills were, how 6………..they were and whether or not they were 7………They had 8…………to complete the task and had to play a total of 9………..There were various different games but all of them provided opportunities for 10……………..The results of the experiment supported Barr’s initial……….because there was a marked………….in all the subjects’ scores. This prompted Barr to recommend that schools make games………. There those who disagree with Barr like Oliver feel that there other alternatives; i.e. other ways of ……………….the necessary life skills
Study the following power point presentation and write about the advantages and disadvantages of video games.
This straight forward text comes from a wonderful website which posts relatively simple science texts. The beauty is that vocabulary is also explained. These texts also give the opportunity to introduce students to inferential questions.
1.       can help someone get a job and advance in a career
2.       playing video games in a group can improve young adults’ communication skills and resourcefulness)
3.       video games require quick thinking
4.       whether gaming skills carried on into real life
5.       purposely / communication skills, adaptability and resourcefulness
6.       Proved/ After two months of playing video games regularly, students scores on communication skills, adaptability and resourcefulness improved
7.       Because they help break down anxieties and build confidence
8.       unnecessary / it is not only video games that develop skills
1.       Conducted, 2. 16 university students, 3. Eight video 4. A questionnaire, 5. Communication 6. Adaptable, 7. Resourceful, 8. Eight weeks, 9.  14 hours, 10. Conversation and cooperation, 11. Hypothesis, view, opinion, 12. Improvement, 13. Extracurricular activities, 14. Sharpening


Have you ever wondered whether we will still look the way we do in the future? Since our ancestors looked very different it might make sense to assume we will look different. What will these differences be and what will the underlying reasons be? Do your research and find out. Then write your essay.
Familiarize yourself with the issue

·         Timeline of World History: Pre-History-Meso-America. Silliman University. History 24-B. Prof.

         Pamate  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHbJ1Wv9zsw

Reading material and videos to make notes on
·         What humans will look like in a hundred years http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4061132/What-humans-look-like-100-years-Expert-reveals-genetically-modified-bodies-ll-need-survive.html Text plus videos and infographics
·         What will humans look like in a thousand years? http://www.businessinsider.com/what-humans-look-like-1000-years-2017-4 Text plus video
·         How the human face might look a hundred thousand years in the future https://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2013/06/07/how-the-human-face-might-look-in-100000-years/#348dbdd85a96
·         What will we look like in the future https://australianmuseum.net.au/what-will-we-look-like-in-the-future
Podcast to take notes from
·         Will future humans look different? https://www.fwthinking.com/podcasts/will-humans-look-different.htm

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


Go to the following link: http://grammar-monster.com/ and check out the easily confused words and common errors. This is a brilliant site for problems you are having with the written language. 

Friday, November 3, 2017


Machines still have a long way to go before they learn like humans do – and that is a potential danger to privacy safety and more.
By: Aviva Hope Rutkin
Level of Difficulty: **
·         The Truth Behind Artificial Intelligence | Andrew Zeitler | TEDxStMaryCSSchool
·         Understanding Artificial Intelligence and Its Future | Neil Nie | TEDxDeerfield
1.       Read the example of the self driving car. What conclusion can be drawn from this example? Where else could this conclusion be placed in the text?
2.       Look back at the first four paragraphs and match the vocabulary items with their meanings. There are more choices than you need:
The  vocabulary items: unbeknownst, far-fetched, adversarial, bamboozle
Meanings: unseen, with no knowledge of, opposing, ignorant, hard to believe, distant, hostile, attack, confuse
3.       AI is not as fool-proof as some may mistakenly assume due to the fact that…
4.       Read the description of human and AI learning to the end. Why might a machine confuse a panda with a gibbon or a school bus with an ostrich?(Two possible answers, find both) The source of the problem is the fact that…
5.       Now look back at the section you have just read starting “It’s something that is a growing concern..” and ending “Someone likely already has”. What subtitle would you give this section:
AI Can’t Think, The Downfall Of AI, The Loop Hole, Algorithms And The Brain.
6.       Access the following, scroll down and watch the video: Deep neural networks are easily fooled http://www.evolvingai.org/fooling. The basic reason why AI can make what seems to us, as bizarre mistakes is that AI sees ………………………………..
7.       The example of spam filters and how spammers get round them is provided to support the contention that…
8.       Look at the paragraphs beginning “What might this allow…” and the following paragraph. Where would you place the following:
·         There are various ways in which hackers could cause problems for AI
·         There are various possibilities that come to mind
9.       Now look back at the three paragraphs concerning adversarial attacks and the quote from Voyobeychnik. What subtitle would you give this section; mark the odd one out:
·         The possibilities are endless
·         Think it is safe? Think again
·         They can and they will
·         Tweak and enter
10.   Read the example of the glasses. This example is provided to show that adversarial attacks could be ……………
11.   Read on until the end of the text starting with “In the meantime…”. Two ways to improve algorithms would be to adopt a ……………………… policy and make programs …………… so that they can withstand an attack.
12.   What reminder is provided in the last section of the text concerning the role of AI in our lives?
Write an essay in which you discuss to what extent we will be able to depend on AI in the future.
AI is agreed to be a major development to be reckoned with in the future but will they be “the perfect oracles of truth” or will humans always need to be in the loop? The text discusses this issue and more by providing irrefutable technical reasons. It is a very topical issue and should lead to plenty of discussion.
1.       Artificial intelligence can be fooled
2.       Unbeknownst: with no knowledge of
Far-fetched: hard to believe
Adversarial: hostile
Bamboozle: confuse
3.       Algorithms are being used more and more
4.       Because the computer doesn’t pay attention to high level details / Because a computer doesn’t consider the whole picture ; The computer looks at the individual pixels of the picture
5.       The Loop Hole
6.       Psychedelic images of abstract patterns and colors (that look like nothing much to humans)
7.       Vulnerabilities exist and someone will figure out how to exploit them.
8.       At the beginning of the second paragraph, After the first sentence in the second paragraph
9.       The last one
10.   Positive
11.   A  “the tougher, the better” policy / more resilient
12.   Machine learning systems are a tool to do reasoning

Thursday, November 2, 2017


“Psychopathic personality traits are often seen as desirable in the corporate environment, but research suggests they can do more harm than good”
By: Jessica Brown
Level of Difficulty: ** This is an easy task. The difficulty is in the number of links provided and the writing task and this is why it is in this category.
·         Apparently psychopaths make good CEO’s https://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/21/apparently-psychopaths-make-good-ceos.html
·         How to know if you are a psychopath http://www.businessinsider.com/psychopath-jon-ronson-ceo-traits-2015-5
1.       Read down to the first subtitle. What surprising revelation is made in this section of the text?
2.       Look back at the same section. What qualities of successful businessmen are in fact psychopathic tendencies?
3.       Read the example of the hedge fund managers. Why did those with psychopathic tendencies produce lower results?
4.       Businessmen with psychopathic tendencies differ from regular businessmen in that they are unable to gain…………………………and this is because…………………
5.       Read the example of the CEO of a charity. What was the reason for the increased staff turnover and lower employee well-being?
6.       For which of the professional(s) below would psychopathy be an advantage:
Surgeons / teachers / commanders in the army / researchers / public speakers   Now check your answers: https://listverse.com/2016/04/22/10-unexpected-benefits-to-being-a-psychopath/
7.       Read the section titled “Superficial Charm”. What makes chief executives with high psychopathy scores good conversationalists?
8.       Read the section titled “Impulsivity” and then go to the following link and read the article: https://www.livescience.com/37483-heroism-psychopaths.html . What conclusion can be drawn from the study of undergraduate students?
9.       Read the section titled “Lack of remorse or guilt” and then go to the following link and read the article: https://news.yale.edu/2016/11/28/psychopaths-can-regret-bad-decisions-don-t-learn-them .
·         Why do psychopaths feel regret and not remorse?
·         There is a major distinction between psychopaths and regular people in their reaction to errors or misjudgments in addition to the point made in the previous question. It is…
·         Now go to the following link and read the text https://www.livescience.com/13083-criminals-brain-neuroscience-ethics.html . Your original text states at the end of the section that “Psychopaths know intellectually what’s right and wrong but they don’t feel it”. Why is this so and can it be cured?
10.   Read the section titled “Parasitic Lifestyle”. It is stated in the text that psychopaths “are not necessarily good in management” Why is this so?
11.   Which sentence in the last section is the concluding statement?
Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of psychopathic personality traits. Use all the material you have studied.
This text has a definite wow factor as it focuses on a popular topic. It also seeks to destroy certain myths and present a balanced argument. The text is full of links to other articles some of which have been drawn into the task so as to provide a basis for the writing task and hopefully encourage students to check links when they come across them.
1.       Psychopaths are surprisingly common in the business environment
2.       Ruthless ambition, using people for their own advantage
3.       Because individuals with psychopathic traits seem to be able to talk the talk but not walk the walk.
4.       Respect / they gain power through dominance, bullying and intimidation
5.       Personality / the personality of the CEO
6.       All except the teacher
7.       Lack of self consciousness
8.       There is a link between psychopathic personality traits and heroism
9.       * Because regret is self focused and remorse involves another (answer in the link)
·         The fact that they are unable to learn from their mistakes (Answer in the link)
·         In psychopaths there are deformations in the part of the brain called the amygdale and the amygdale is the seat of emotion.
10.   Because self interest needs to be balanced with altruism
11.   Whether psychopathic traits are useful depends on context

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


If superior strength was suddenly available to women, how would society change? Rachel Nuwer asks researchers and gender experts for their views about an intriguing thought experiment.”
By: Rachel Nuwer
Level of Difficulty:  ***

·         It’s Reigning Men: Gender Roles and How They Hurt You | Lilia Fromm | TEDxLincoln

·         The Mask of Masculinity - the traditional role of men is evolving | Connor Beaton | TEDxStanleyPark https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmkFdAMFGXo

·         Redefining masculinity | Shane Horsburgh | TEDxCanberra


1.       Mrs. Gardner’s actions described in the first paragraph exemplify her efforts to ….
2.       The underlying assumption of the thought experiment is that….
3.       It is implied in the text that the difference between the females of terrestrial vertebrates and those of insects and amphibians is that ….
4.       It is also implied that the superior physical strength of male terrestrial vertebrates is necessary for…
5.       The future of the human race could be put in jeopardy if women were stronger than men because …..
6.       The social status of men would undergo a change because…
7.       In a wolf pack, the dominant members of the group get the lion’s share of the food. The same is true in lion communities. What do these animals have in common with powerfully built males of human societies?
8.       What psychological changes would be witnessed in women who were physically stronger if nature took its course?
9.       In what way is Fairbairn’s daughter buck the trend in her approach to men? She …
10.   Strength is losing its traditional role in modern society thanks to the fact(s) that:
·         A lot of what we do doesn’t depend on strength any longer
·         There is more overall equality in the business world and life in general
·         A lot of the work we is in front of a computer screen in the work place
·         Physical strength is no longer that important in the modern world
11.   The rising popularity of violent sports among American men is due to the desire of men to try and prove that…
12.   The increased physical strength of women would have an impact on crime in that….
13.   Fairbanks feels women have traditionally desired to seem more masculine in the workplace to avoid…
14.   Why does Gardiner feel the arguments supporting gender discrimination in the workplace will shift rather than be transformed?
15.   The example of Angela Merkel indicates that in the modern world the tendency to view ….
16.   Women don’t really need to be physically stronger acc to Fairbairn because …

Use all you have learnt to write about how the social roles social status of men and women are changing

The issue of the changing social roles and social status of men and women is a very topical issue; especially with the inauguration of the new US president and re-election of Merkel. This partly hypothetical text analyzes the issue from every possible perspective. The essay task should not me timed so that students can write freely.
1.       Exert authority and competence in a situation that was not necessarily normal
2.       Gender dynamics are transformed in other ways in the real world and there are many things we take for granted.
3.       The latter / female insects and amphibians have to carry hundreds of thousands of eggs
4.       Competition for females
5.       There would be an uptick of testosterone
6.       The society would become matriarchal
7.       They favor hierarchies and are prone to competitiveness
8.       Traditionally male personality traits such as dominance and aggression would be enhanced in women
9.       She does not feel she has to dumb herself down
10.   All four
11.    They are still more entitled to power
12.   Instances of male harassment, violence and rape would go down but instances of female on male abuse would likely increase
13.   Gender based discrimination
14.   Because those in power will always struggle hard to stay in power , through whatever means they can
15.   Violence and aggression as tools for maintaining control have decreased
16.   Some of the shifts that such a scenario would trigger are already underway

Friday, October 27, 2017


By: Abebe Birhane
Level of difficulty: ***
Descartes’ philosophy is contrasted with the Ubuntu philosophy of Africa in the text you are about to read so it would be sensible to discover what these philosophies entail.
·         Rene Descartes - “I think, therefore I am” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0A6UKoMcE10
·         Cogito ergo sum  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMoPUwNK0fQ
·         Ubuntu philosophy  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERp_mOqJq2k
·         I Am Because We Are: The Spirit of UBUNTU | Max Quinn | TEDxBSU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxvxpCrDrIQ
As you listen and read along, underline main ideas, topic sentences and concluding statements. Also notice the natural divisions in the text and mark them out.  Doing so will help you with the questions.
1.       Which paragraphs constitute the first section of the text? Now answer the questions:
·         Ubuntu completely overturns long held beliefs concerning selfhood because in this philosophy it is claimed that….
·         Which sentence constitutes the main idea of the second paragraph?
·         What is it about ubuntu that can be disturbing?
2.       Which paragraphs constitute the second section of the text? Now answer the questions:
·         What ultimate conclusion did Descartes reach concerning the “puzzle he set himself”?
·         Read the experiment concerning memory testing to the end. What is the take home point of this experiment?
·         The emergence and identification of the bystander effect goes some way towards proving that…………….
·         For what reason is the approach used by Darley and LatenĂ© criticized? There are two reasons; find both
3.       Which paragraphs constitute the third section of the text? Now answer the questions:
·         Read the following poem written by the war poet Wilfred Owen : https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47393/anthem-for-doomed-youth Think about the ideas expressed in this still very topical poem. I what way does all this chime with Bakhtin’s views?
·         In what sense can Bakhtin’s views be said to be a compromise between Cartesian and Ubuntu philosophy?
·         Go to the following website and read the account of the doll house study: https://developlearningpsych.wordpress.com/relevant-studies/  The study seems to prove that viewing child development as………………………..may be wrong.
·         What erroneous premise was the concept of solitary confinement based?
·         Solitary confinement meets / fails to meet expectations and we know this because…
4.       Read the last paragraph, the conclusion.
·         We understand from this paragraph that despite all the proof to the contrary, ………..still persit(s)
Use all the information you have gathered to compare and contrast the approaches to selfhood you have learnt about in order to prove which appeals to you more.
This is a seriously sophisticated topic but nevertheless well within the grasp of the students if covered carefully. Make sure to leave enough time for discussion. The essay task must be covered once the reading is complete to consolidate learning.
1.       The first three paragraphs.
·         People are born without “ena” or selfhood, and instead must acquire it through interactions and experiences overtime.
·         Relationships inform self-understanding
·         The notion of a fluctuating and ambiguous self
2.       Par 4 through 7
·         The only thing you can be certain of is your own cogito
·         The Cartesian cogito is still everywhere you look
·         Selves co-evolve with others over time
·         It makes structural factors much harder to see / it wipes away vital contextual information
3.       Par 8 through 11
·         It is only through an encounter with another person that you could come to appreciate your own unique perspective and see yourself as a whole entity.
·         Bakhtin believed that being is an act that must happen in the space between the self and the world.
·         The reorganization of mental processes
·         The prisoner’s thoughts would turn inward, and he would be prompted to reflect on his crimes
·         Fails to meet / prisoners tend to suffer profound physical and psychological difficulties
4.       Cartesian assumptions