Monday, March 27, 2017


East Timor gained its independence from Indonesia in 2002 but the bloody conflict leading up to it took its toll. One aspect of the conflict you may not have been aware of is the taking of thousands of East Timorese children away from their families. Do your research and find out what took place and why. Find out what the current situation is and write an essay detailing what you have learnt.
Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays:  
Familiarize yourself with the issue:
·         Long Journey Home - the stolen children of Timor-Leste
Reading material to make notes on:
·         The girl who was stolen by a soldier
·         The lost children of East Timor
·         East Timor’s lost boys,9171,400050,00.html
Videos to take notes from:
·         Return to East Timor: I have been brought back from the dead

·         Stolen Children - East Timor  


You may be forgiven for being completely oblivious to the fact that your body plays host to billions of bacteria that play a vital role in keeping you healthy. Do your research to discover more and what you can do to increase the population of so called good bacteria. When you are ready write an essay in which you discuss the issue.
Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays:  
Familiarize yourself with the issue:
Reading material to make notes on:
·         The microbes in your body that you couldn’t live without
·         Gut study divides people into three types
·         What is your gut telling you?
·         Burning question: how does your diet affect gut bacteria?
·         Body bacteria: can your gut bugs make you smarter? 
Videos to take notes from:
·         Gut bacteria and health
·          Gut Bacteria Balance and Your Health!
·         Which foods feed healthy gut bacteria?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


I had vaguely heard about the Mandela Effect but hadn’t researched it in any depth until a student of mine Muhammed Taşdelen mentioned it. One video on, we were both hooked and as a result we got rather carried away with the material. We prepared the writing task together pouring over material in great excitement.  Hopefully, you will find the topic as engrossing as we did and enjoy researching it. When you have completed your work, write an essay in which you first state what the Mandela effect is and then explain to what extent you believe in the theory of parallel universes.
Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays:  
Thanks are due to Muhammed Taşdelen for suggesting the task and contributing to it.
Familiarize yourself with the issue:
·         The Mandela Effect | Examples & Possible Explanation | Documentary
Reading material to make notes on:

·         Are you living in an alternate reality? Welcome to the wacky world of the 'Mandela Effect'

·         Knowing The Neurons

·         The Mandela Effect: Conspiracy theorists believe we’re living in colliding alternate realities

·         The Mandela Effect & Alternate Universes 

·          Ben Carson and the Mandela Effect

Documentary  to watch and take notes from

·         Proof: Mandela Effect Is Actually Cern Quantum Effect





Tuesday, March 21, 2017


The positive characteristics of compassion, empathy and sympathy form the glue that holds society together and promotes well being on an individual level.  The Buddhists, like many other thinkers, believe that compassion can be learnt. Do your research and find out how. When you are ready, write an essay in which you discuss the methods you have learnt about.
Familiarize yourself with the issue:
·         Can compassion be trained or taught? His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Templeton Prize 2012
Reading material to make notes on
·         Can you teach compassion?
·         8 Ways to teach compassion to kids
Videos to take notes from
·         The Dalai Lama - Compassion is not a Sign of Weakness
Open lecture: Stanford University

·         The centrality of compassion in human life and society

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

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


We are constantly told to live in the present and seize the moment but it might not be a bad idea to consider the world of the future; 2050 to be specific. Below you will find a host of material including numerous observations and predictions. Read, watch and take notes. When you are ready write an essay on the topic.
Familiarize yourself with the issue:
   * 17 ways technology will change our lives by 2050
·         Wall Street Journal Demographic  
Reading material to make notes on
·         What will life be like in 2050?
·         Predictions about the world in 2050
Videos to take notes from
·         The World In 2050 [The Real Future Of Earth] - Full BBC Documentary HD
·         The World in 2050

·         A documentary

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


How the indigenous Tibetan population evolved to live with so little oxygen has been a mystery. Now we are beginning to understand that another species may lie behind their survival.
By: Alex Riley
Level of difficulty: **
·        Adaptation to high altitude | Cynthia Beall | CEM
·        High-altitude adaptation to understand complex phenotypes | Abigail Bigham | CEM
Note to the students: This task involves extensive practice with paraphrasing and has been prepared in response to popular demand
1.       Read the story of the Chusang people. This family of six had a lifestyle that was radically different from other Tibetan’s in that they lived…………………
2.       The reason it is harder to breath at high altitudes is the fact that …
3.       Evolution helped the people of the Andes by providing them with…
4.       What solution to the problem of living at high altitudes does the rest of humanity share with the Andean peoples?
5.       Beall was amazed by her findings concerning the Tibetan people because… Mark True or False
·        They seemed to lack the evolutionary safeguards the Andean people had
·        The Tibetan response to high altitudes seems to run counter to basic scientific fact
·        She had measured regular Tibetans living at sea level not the nomads
6.       We understand from the text that the evolutionary safeguard the Tibetans have been gifted is greatly advantageous because ………and makes…….less likely
7.       The second biological advantage of the Tibetans over Andean population is the fact that…………………………
8.       The conclusion Nielsen reached as a result of her research was that...............What was the implication of her conclusion?
9.       Watch the following video before you continue:  Now answer the question. It was fortunate that the ancient Tibetans mated with Denisovans rather the Neanderthals because otherwise….Use your own words
Write an essay telling the story of human adaptation to high altitudes
This task is based on an anthropological detective story; a quest to run down the source of a unique characteristic Tibetans seem to share. This fascinating text allowed for certain specific types of questions: those involving the drawing of conclusions and making evaluations. Further, I have focused extensively on paraphrasing which students seem to have the most trouble with.
1.       In isolation (On the Tibetan Plateau won’t do; what makes this group special is the fact that they stayed there the year round)
2.       Oxygen molecules spread out in all directions (and a lung…)
3.       Barrel Shaped chests that increase the volume of each of their breaths
4.       The hematopoietic response (OR the explanation)
5.       T,T,F
6.       It reduces wear and tear on the blood vessels and the heart/ CMS
7.       They exhale more nitric oxide and this gas leads to a widening of blood vessels
8.       The EPAS1 gene from the Tibetan genomes was unique / The Tibetans had inherited the gene from other species
9.       Possible answer: They wouldn’t have been able to live at high altitudes


“The Himba people of Namibia can see fine details and ignore distraction much better than most other human beings – a finding that may reflect the many ways that modern life is changing our minds and abilities”
By: David Robson
Level of difficulty: **
Learn about the Himba tribe:
1.       Check out these photos of Opuwo: If the Himba opt for a change of lifestyle, they will be obliged to…
2.       What makes the Himba ideal subjects when studying how modern life changed our minds is the fact that….
3.       WHR Rivers discovered that people from more primitive societies seem to differ from Western societies in their in their perception of…(Use your own words but draw from the paragraph)
4.       The above finding was significant in that it suggested that…
5.       It is implied in the text that the Himba or The Toda would have been fooled by the illusion if……………This is due to the fact that…
6.       We understand from the text Before Davidoff, the subjects chosen for experiments were representative samples / were not representative samples.
7.       In an experiment seeking to discover the effects of the modern world on our perceptions the subjects need to be…
8.       Davidoff was irresponsible /non-judgmental / culturally sensitive / experimental /  inconsistent in his approach to the Himba. Select as many as fit.
9.       What does “The Phenomenon” at the beginning of the paragraph refer to?
10.   We understand from the text that the Himba can focus and ignore interference because they are not a modern society /they need to do it in their everyday lives / they are nomadic people / they depend on it in order to survive/ they raise cattle /. Mark as many as fit
11.    The comparison of Himba living in Opuwa and those living a traditional life style clearly demonstrates a link between……………………..and…………………..
12.   We understand from the text that the reason for the change that takes place in how we perceive our environments in urban area is due to all the cars in the cities /the character of the environment / the number of buildings in cities/ all the city lights/ the enormous number of people in cities.
13.   One reason for the loss of focus and susceptibility to distraction in cities could be………………………………
14.   Based on what you have read in the text, what is the vision of people living in Turkish society like?
15.   Why do you think Turkish Shepherds are less holistic? Refer back to the whole text and use your own words.
Discuss the factors that affect how we perceive the world.
Anthropology and sociology texts are always fascinating and this is one such text. Being a scientific text, it allows for good inferential questions which should challenge the students.
1.       To cope with all the novelties and new sensations (of modern life)
2.       The Himba had mostly avoided contact with modern culture, quietly continuing their traditional life
3.       The lines in the Muller-Lyer illusion
4.       Even the most basic aspects of our perception are shaped by our culture and surroundings (The relative clause is a non-defining clause and can therefore be skipped)
5.       They spent more time indoors; their brains would have learnt to process the carpentered corners rapidly
6.       Were not representative samples
7.       The absolute counterpoint to our modern, urban lifestyles
8.       Non-judgmental, culturally sensitive
9.       The fact that the traditional Himba were far less susceptible than those of us living in modern societies to the Ebbinghouse illusion.
10.   They need to do it in their everyday lives, they depend on it in order to survive
11.   Susceptibility to the Ebbinghouse illusion and living in a town
12.   The character of the environment
13.   The stress of urban life
14.   They tend to focus more on the context of a social situation and (they also tend to pay more attention to the backgrounds of pictures;) they are more holistic and less analytical
15.   Possible answer:Because they resemble the Himba in that they have to look after their cattle and sheep on their own

Monday, March 13, 2017


“Our minds have many cunning strategies for shunning feedback – but there are ways to avoid these traps, say psychologists Robert Nash and Naomi Winstone”
Level of Difficulty: **
·         Get better at receiving feedback
1.       What is the irony in our attitude to success? Although ….(Tweak the text)
2.       There is no doubt that we could benefit from feedback but nevertheless we consider it………………………..
3.       The above attitude and our resulting reaction is basically foolish because ….
4.       Which of the examples below is an example of a “fingers in ears” reaction?
·         A terminally ill cancer patient not visiting or consulting the doctor
·         A patient who is scared of surgery not going to the doctor for a hip replacement
5.       What was the result of the “TAA Deficiency” experiment?
6.       What is the take home point from this experiment?
7.       A professional actor is attending a theater course. During an exercise, he is outperformed by an amateur. How does he preserve his positive self image? By saying
·         I should have done better
·         I could have done better
·         I must do better next time
·         I have more professional contacts
·         I need to have more professional contacts
8.       Discrediting the feedback provider enables the subject to
·         Restrain himself
·         Comfort himself
·         Improve himself
·         Tempt himself
9.       What conclusion can we draw from the example of the female teacher?
10.   We understand from all we have read so far that people who are more accepting of criticism are those with…
11.   We understand from the study involving historical events that there is a positive correlation between being receptive to feedback and …(Two answers, find both)
12.   Which of the following phrases could be added to the beginning of the introduction:
·         As a result
·         In conclusion
·         To sum up
Watch the following lecture on giving and receiving feedback:  When you are done, write an essay in which you discuss the ways to provide and receive feedback.
Giving and receiving feedback is very important in achieving success. This text analyzes the reasons why most people are so touchy and have problems receiving feedback. The questions provide a gentle  introduction to serious inferential questions.
1.       Although we want to achieve success , we would rather not hear worm words of wisdom, constructive criticism or 360 degree feedback
2.       A threat to our self esteem and positive sense of identity
3.       It shines an unflattering spotlight on our insecurities, character flaws and unpleasant attitudes
4.       The second
5.        52% of those who were told they would have to take a pill for two weeks agreed to provide a diagnostic cheek swab but only 21% of those who were told they would have to take the pills for the rest of their lives did.
6.       People are resistant to hearing feedback when they believe it could oblige them to do something difficult or unpleasant
7.       I have more professional contacts
8.       Comfort himself
9.       The way we blame feedback givers can sometimes uncover our most unpalatable prejudices
10.   High self esteem
11.   Investment of resources in receiving it  OR the feedback being wanted
12.   To sum up; the conclusion is a summary

Thursday, March 9, 2017


“What is trust, when does it pertain, and can it ever be absolute?”
By: Neel Burton M.D.
Level of Difficulty: ***
·         Are people born Good?
·         Is Evil Rational?
1.       Where else could we place the paragraph beginning “We behave justly…”? Could this be done without the need for alterations in the following paragraph?
2.       Look back at the exchange between Glaucon and Socrates. They disagree… Mark as many as fit.
·         As to the implications of injustice
·         As to the implications of health and disease
·         As to the requirements of the soul
·         As to one major source of happiness
·         As to the lack of rational control
3.       Which of the following subtitles would best fit the paragraph beginning “Even”
·         Back to nature
·         The domino effect
·         States in turmoil
·         Attack  and counter-attack
4.       Aristotle disagrees with Socrates in that he thinks that ………..isn’t the only facture that makes one good.
5.       Look back on the text up to “In Leviathan…”What kind of text is this turning out to be? What method has the writer used to make his point?
6.       Hobbes agrees / disagrees with Socrates concerning the basic liberties/proclivities / facilities / learning of human nature. It is for this reason that he believes that for peace to exist there needs to be …
7.       Read the paragraph beginning “Game Theory”. Which of the subtitles below would best fit this paragraph?
·         Game Theory
·         Vested interests
·         Virtue and interest
·         Covenants and swords
8.       Look back at the views of Socrates, Aristotle and Hobbes. Who has the most faith in human nature? Who has the least? How do you know?
9.       What conclusion can be drawn from the paragraph beginning “Happily…”?
10.   The writer supports his defense of altruism as the glue that holds society together by stating that altruism helps people both …………………..and……………………… (Base your answer on the text but use your own word)
11.   During a meeting with prison inmates Pope Francis was jostled by people who wanted to get to him and almost tripped. He raised his voice and said “Don’t be selfish!” This was uncharacteristic. He probably felt angry / confused / immoral/ ashamed afterwards because he felt that he had………………..
12.   Imagine a nobleman who is living in the middle ages. He is a notorious rake who is dying and decides to gift all his wealth to the Catholic Church on his deathbed.
Now consider the example of The Bill Gates foundation: . Bill Gates has poured his wealth into this organization.
Which is altruistic and why?
13.   The writer feels there is a link between trust and the acceptance of…..This means that people we trust can relinquish……………but in doing so they will …………………………………………………….
Write an essay on the following topic: Which of the thinkers mentioned in the text do you agree with most? Justify your answer.
This reading task mainly focuses on drawing conclusions and summarizing and is based on a truly academic text including the views of Socrates, Aristotle, Hobbes and Hume. It is a sophisticated text written at a relatively simple level and as such should appeal to those interested philosophy.
1.       Right at the beginning; yes it could
2.       One and four
3.       The domino effect; because the paragraph describes a chain reaction
4.       Nature
5.       Argumentative, comparison (by whole units)
6.       Disagrees, proclivities, social contract
7.       Covenants and Swords because it best summarizes the paragraph and gives the reader a clue as to what he is getting into
8.       Socrates, Hobbes, Socrates says that justice and injustice are to the soul as health and disease are to the body; and if health in the body is intrinsically desirable, then so is justice in the soul. Hobbes thinks so little of human nature that he cannot even conceive of genuine trust and by his social contract…
9.       Happily, human nature is a bit brighter than Hobbes surmised
10.   Personally and socially OR on a personal level and a social level
11.   Ashamed, Fallen short of cultural or societal moral standards
12.   The Bill Gates foundation. In the first example there is far more vested interest. The nobleman wants to save his soul. He has come to the end of his life and he is afraid. There is vested interest in the first example as well but it is much less important.
13.   Responsibility, responsibility, not mislead us and let us down gently