Wednesday, May 24, 2017


The MacMillan dictionary defines overparenting as being so worried about the safety or success of your children that you do too many things for them and prevent them from being independent” The Independent was referring to overparenting in their 2008 article when they wrote 'Over-parenting is the curse of our time … Can you hear that low whirr above our school playgrounds? … the after-effects of Britain's helicopter parents, who hover over their kids, ready to swoop when any risk or stress or spontaneity strikes.' Do your research and find out more about the issue then write an essay where you discuss the different parenting styles and their effects.
Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays:  
Familiarize yourself with the issue:
·         Real Time with Bill Maher: Helicopter Parenting
Reading material to make notes on
·         Helicopter, Snowplough & Bubble-Wrap Parenting
·         5 Signs of overparenting (Remember to click “next” and read the whole article)
Videos to take notes from
·         Eye on Parenting: "Helicopter" Parents
·         How to Land Your Kid in Therapy: Over-Parenting and Its Perils
·         Eye on Parenting: "Helicopter" Parents

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Recently belittling comments have become the norm as politicians trade insults on social media or on air. Why do people insult others and how can people best deal with insults? Do your research and find out. When you are ready, write an essay where you discuss both the reasons and the solutions.
Familiarize yourself with the issues:
·         How To Respond To Insults - Q&A Episode #1
Reading material to make notes on:
·         The psychology of insults
·         Why insults and why they shouldn’t
Videos to take notes from:
·         How to deal with people that insult you who can't get away from; like family members!
·         How to get over someone insulting/humiliating you and move on
·         How to handle someone who insults you but disguises it as a joke

·         How to respond to someone who is insulting you

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

Saturday, May 20, 2017


“There was once an animal that was an ancestor to both humans and apes. But what was it like?”
By: Colin Barras
Level of difficulty: ** This is a more challenging task due to its length and subject matter so don't make it the first task you do at this level.
·         Proof of evolution that you can find on your body
·         What will humans look like in the year 5000
1.       Start reading the text and decide which paragraphs form the introduction. Now answer the questions on this section:
·         Charles Darwin’s missing person’s inquiry was very difficult because…
·         Charles Darwin set off a chain reaction when he published his theory of evolution. Step one accepting that……….Step two was that there had to exist both ……….and………..
·         Which of the following subtitles would fit this section: the search for the missing link / Darwin sets the ball rolling / Opening a can of worms / In search of LCA
2.       Where does the first section of the development start and where does it end? Now answer the questions:
·         Rephrase the following to eliminate the pronoun: “This categorization”.
·         Huxley based the deductions he made concerning the origins of man on….(tweak the text)
·         How would you best replace “This” in the phrase “ This led to some very particular ideas…”?
·         What qualities was it assumed that LCA had that modern humans don’t have?
·         The above qualities were believed to have led to…
·         What subtitle would you give this section: Monkey business / Huxley explains / Our brothers and sisters / Evolution acts in mysterious ways.
3.       Where does the next section of the development start and where does it end? Now answer the questions:
·         Early beliefs as to who exactly LCA was seem to have had a scientific basis / a rational basis / a superficial basis / an emotional basis.
·         What seemingly illogical conclusion did Strauss reach concerning humans?
·         Straus based his above opinion on the fact that…
·         What was the significance of Sraus’ views? The realization that …
·         What likely description of LCA did Straus make?
·         What subtitle would best fit this section: Straus stirs the pot / Answering back / Many more theories / Humans and evolution.
4.       Where does the next section of the development start and where does it end? Now answer the questions:
·         How would you replace the phrase “this uncertainty”?
·         The return to the chimpanzee and bonobos as the human “sister species” was due to the theory ….
·         How did Zukerkandl reach the conclusion that humans and gorillas last shared a common ancestor 11 million years ago? By noting both……….and…..
·         The idea of the molecular clock gained traction thanks to….
5.       Where does the next section of the development start and where does it end? Now answer the questions:
·         The theory that Ramapithecus was a direct human ancestor was deemed inconclusive because…
·         It made sense that Ramapithecus didn’t resemble humans because …
·         Where, in the remainder of this section, would you slot in the following sentence: Huxley’s theories seem finally to have been verified scientifically approximately 150 years after his death?
·         What phase would you replace “This” with  in the phrase “This was not the only conclusion…”?
·         The assumption that the home of the LCA must have been Africa is based on the fact that….and the assumption that….
·         What would you make the phrase “The story” more specific?
6.       Where does the next section start and where does it end? Now answer the questions:
·         What was the conclusion that humans did not evolve from a knuckle-walking LCA based on?
·         The discovery of Ardi was significant because it was an early human / it moved comfortably in trees like apes / it had some un-apelike qualities / it was extremely primitive / it was our LCA
·         The conclusions reached by studying Ardi were an overgeneralization because…
·         The contention that LCA may not have been chimp-like is based on the tremendous amount of evolution witnessed in apes / the surprising primitiveness of human hands / the evolution of an opposable thumb in humans.
·         We understand from this section that the idea of the chimp-like LCA has been mostly been disappointed / discredited / disrespected/ disavowed.
·         Doubts about when exactly the LCA lived arouse as a result of the fear that…
·         The fact that an early relative of the gorilla has been found may indicate that the LCA may have lived a lot later / a lot earlier / around the same time.
·         What conclusion can be reached concerning the LCA from your reading of the text?
·         All the different views concerning the LCA may mean that we may fail to…
Use all you have learnt to state your views about the LCA.  Remember to support your opinions.

This fascinating account of the human story and where we come from is an objective scientific summary of opinions thus far. Although no definite conclusion concerning our last common ancestor is reached, the story of the competing theories is still interesting to read. It will also help students to learn to discuss issues they have strong views about in a civilized manner; an important life skill.
1.       As far as “…what it looked like and how it behaved” / He didn’t know when and where the missing party was last seen; he didn’t have photographs that told him what the missing person looked like and he didn’t have a name to put to the face /  Humans belong to the same family tree as all animals, a sister species and a last common ancestor/ Darwin sets the ball rolling
2.       Starts “Even before Darwin…” and ends “… walking upright on two legs, he wrote”/ The categorization of humans as primates / anatomical similarities between humans gorillas and chimpanzees /Adopting living chimpanzees as stand-ins for LCA /Brachiation and knuckle walking / Walking upright on two legs/  Monkey business
3.       Starts: “But it would be wrong to think…” and ends “…rather than swinging between them / a superficial basis / Humans were just not particularly evolved / Human arms, hands, legs and feet were not as highly specialized as we might assume / that humans may have split apart from other primates before apes evolved brachiation and knuckle-walking /LCA could have been a relatively small bodied primate than ran a long branches rather than swinging beneath them./ Answering back
4.       Starts: This disagreement…and ends: a direct human ancestor / The uncertainty concerning where humans slotted into the primate evolutionary tree / of the molecular  clock / the differences between human and gorilla molecules and estimating the rate that those differences accumulate / new fossil finds
5.       Begins: Ramapithecus was discovered…and ends… chimp and gorilla anatomy helped/ The conclusions came exclusively from a study of the ape’s teeth (is enough because the relative clause is non defining) / It predated the appearance of the human lineage / After the sentence ending “close”/ The LAC’ likelihood of being more chimp like /  Seven million years ago the European and Asian apes had vanished; chimpanzees and humans split at the same time / The story of who the LCA was
6.       Begins: There had been murmurings…and ends …in a bit of a quandary / On the fact that gorillas and chimpanzees evolved knuckle walking independently / it had some un-apelike qualities / it meant that there was a lot of parallel evolution across all apes / discredited/ the molecular clocks used to estimate when LCA lived were being read incorrectly /  a lot earlier/ there is not yet universal agreement on the LCA / recognize the LCA when we find it

Sunday, May 14, 2017


“Revenge serves a very useful purpose – even the idea of seeking it gives us pleasure. Why is this?”
By: Melissa Hogenboom
Level of Difficulty: **
Watch, listen and take notes in preparation for the reading task
·         Clip 1: Is revenge bad? (Templeton Foundation)
·         Clip 2: The evolutionary origins of revenge (Templeton Foundation)
·         Clip 3: The forgiveness instinct (Templeton Foundation)
·         Clip 4: Forgiveness and social development (Templeton Foundation)
1.       Which paragraphs constitute the introduction? Now answer the questions on this section:
·         What conclusion can be drawn from the abundance of works such as Othello, Orestes, Hamlet?
·         What are the developmental paragraphs going to focus on?
2.       Continue reading. Which paragraphs constitute the next section? Now answer the questions on this section:
·         What conclusion can be drawn from the statistics provided in the section?
·         The factor that enables people to go from being insulted or being wronged to the desire to respond in kind can be called…….
·         What does it refer to in the phrase “what causes it”?
3.       Continue reading. Which paragraphs constitute the next section? Now answer the questions:
·         How does the writer justify his contention that “Revenge really can be sweet”?
·         What conclusion can be drawn from Chester and DeWall’s recent experiment?
·         Logically, the placebo given in the second phase of the experiment shouldn’t have worked. But it did because…
·         Explain what exactly is meant by the sentence “And it worked.”
4.       Continue reading. Where does the next section of the text start and where does it end? Now answer the questions:
·         What does “That” refer to in the phrase “That begins a cycle…”?
·         The desire to seek revenge can resemble an addiction in that…
·         That the desire for revenge has persisted in the human race seems to indicate that………….
·         The evolutionary advantage of revenge is that…
·         What widespread interpretation of revenge has McColough proved wrong? Revenge…
5.       Continue reading. Where does the next section start and where does it end? Now answer the questions:
·         Two groups of people have been found to be more likely to seek revenge. They are…
·         The fact that revenge is a knee-jerk reaction for some people even when the imagined rejection does not exist indicates that these individuals are …
·         How is it that self harm satisfies the need for revenge?
·         How does the writer justify his contention that “There is hope whether we are aware of it or not.”? By drawing attention to…
6.       Read the conclusion. It is implied in this paragraph that:
·         The desire for revenge has survival value
·         The desire for revenge has outgrown its usefulness
·         The desire for revenge demands immediate satisfaction
·         The desire for revenge protected our ancient ancestors
7.       Look back at the development of the text and give each section a subtitle. Select from the list. There are more items than you need. Subtitles in no particular order:
·         There is a reason for the madness
·         Revenge is bittersweet
·         Maybe they will, maybe they won’t
·         Retaliation is cathartic
·         Blame the reward circuit
·         Going from A to B
·         Quit complaining; it is all good
Use all you have learnt to write about the advantages and disadvantages of revenge. Listen to this public lecture before you do so:
The desire for revenge is a very common theme in literature, mythology and history; not mention people’s private lives. This interesting text is a scientific analysis of the evolutionary advantages of revenge as well as the down sides. It also provides insight into what goes on in the brain and which people are more prone to retaliatory aggression. Women, naturally, emerge smelling of roses; sorry guys! Again it is text with lots of potential for discussion and a good writing task.
1.       The first three paragraphs.  /Literature has used revenge throughout history /The upsides of revenge
2.       The section begins: “Revenge is a powerful… “ and ends “I started studying revenge”/ Revenge is a powerful emotional trigger that mobilizes people into action. / psychological middlemen / the desire to retaliate
3.       The section begins “He set out to uncover…” and ends “…who had not been rejected”/ Rejection activates the brain’s known reward circuit, the nucleus accumbens / Revenge provides its own special form of pleasure. / The placebo group believed they would feel no pleasure from seeking revenge./ After having the opportunity to get revenge, the rejected individuals scored the same on mood tests as those who had not been rejected.
4.       The section begins: “This finding, however,…” and ends “….curtail their desire for revenge”/ Feeling good / those who seek it fail to anticipate disastrous personal consequences. / Revenge serves a very useful purpose. /It works as a deterrent./ Is not the product of afflicted minds.
5.       It starts “It might be comforting to know…” and ends “… we are aware of it or not”. / Men and those with higher levels of rejection sensitivity / more neurotic, anxious and depressed/ Self harm makes people feel they are in control of something. /Our very sophisticated pre-frontal cortex that can inhibit impulsive behavior and guide the desire for retaliatory aggression to more social outcomes.
6.       The second
7.       Maybe they will, maybe they won’t = Section 5 / There is a reason for the madness= Section 4 / Blame the reward circuit= Section 3 / Going from A to B. The first section is the introduction and the last paragraph is the conclusion.

Thursday, May 11, 2017


The importance of having a good sense of humour is often underestimated but in fact,it is vital for the continued well-being of an individual. Do your research and find out why. When you are ready, write an essay discussing the advantages you have discovered.
Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays:  
Take the test:
·         The Sense of humour test
Famiarise yourself with the issue
·         Psychology of Humour 
·         30 Benefits of humour at work 
Reading material to make notes on
·         A good sense of humour is a sign of psychological health 
Videos to take notes from
·         Develop a sense of humour
·         Humor at work | Andrew Tarvin | TEDxOhioStateUniversity
·         Using Humor to Communicate: Naveed Mahbub at TEDxDhaka
·         How To Be Funny - Easily Visualized

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


“They say comparison is the thief of joy. In a world where even millionaires don’t consider themselves wealthy, is the key to life satisfaction to simply stop lining ourselves up against others?”
By: Maddy Savage
Level of Difficulty:* This is a tough level *
Watch the following videos and think about the messages. They will be important for the reading task to come.
·         Why we're unhappy -- the expectation gap | Nat Ware | TEDxKlagenfurt
·         Happiness is all in your mind: Gen Kelsang Nyema at TEDxGreenville 2014
1.       What illogical mind set does the writer draw attention to at the beginning of the text? People who seem to be rolling in money feel…
2.       What logical conclusion can be drawn from the feelings of the rich as described in the text?
3.       The reason becoming richer doesn’t make people happier is the fact that the satisfaction derived from earning more money ….(Tweak the text)
4.       Why do rich people persist in an activity which obviously doesn’t make them any happier?
5.       Why is it surprising that the trend described so far is true in Sweden too?
6.       What is it that high earners who can’t get off the treadmill are unable to do in general?
7.       What major criterion of happiness do poorer people seem to have more of?
8.       Read the account of Graham’s research. Which sentence best summarizes her findings?
·         Money does bring happiness and the poor should be helped
·         Money does bring happiness but the rich can learn from the poor
·         Money doesn’t bring happiness and the rich have a lot to learn from the poor.
·         Money doesn’t bring happiness and the rich and the poor should learn from each other
9.       Check out how countries rank according to the World Happiness Index :  What attitude helped Nepal clime eight spots in the world happiness index of 2017? The tendency to…
10.   Experts are optimistic about the millenials although they seem to be unable to acquire the widely accepted tokens of wealth because…
11.   Go to the Key Findings of the US Department of commerce, scroll down to page two and study the key findings The findings indicate a shift in world view: for millenials…
12.   Why did Eileen Cho refuse to invest in a home of her own? Because otherwise …(Tweak the text)
13.   What is the take home point from the text?
Benefit from all you have read and listened to write about how to be happy and why some people just cannot be happy.
This relatively simple text is all about a profound topic: the relationship between money and happiness. The writing task draws on the videos and the reading task.
1.       They haven’t made it / they are not wealthy
2.       If we are unlikely to feel rich, no matter how much we earn, it is not really worth aspiring to get there at all.
3.       Stops increasing at some stage/ Doesn’t increase any longer at some stage
4.       Because rich people, just as the less well off, make upwards comparisons (You don’t need to write the rest)
5.       Because Sweden is a social democracy famed for work life balance rather than excess
6.       Live in the moment
7.       Societal capital
8.       The second
9.        Make downward comparisons
10.   This generation may show fewer of the negative effects of wealth(such as selfishness, narcissm and a high sense of entitlement)
11.   Making memories is more important than making money
12.   She wouldn’t have money for one trip a month

13.   People need to work out what’s right for them as individuals and learn to be happy with the really small things in life

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


“Long dormant bacteria and viruses, trapped in ice and permafrost for centuries, are reviving as Earth’s climate warms”
By: Jasmin Fox Skelly
Level of Difficulty:**
·         How global warming is awakening deadly diseases
1.       We understand from the first two paragraphs that the human immune system and pathogens are in a continual struggle to best each other/ overcome each other / respond to each other / defeat each other. Mark the answer that doesn’t fit.
2.       Read the example of the boy who died of anthrax. What conclusion can be drawn from this example? Ancient pathogens are capable of…
3.       Although permafrost melts every year, the issue of diseases is only now becoming a problem because ……………………………
4.       Permafrost is an ideal incubator for pathogens because …
5.       Go to the following link and read the short article   . An important implication of the revival of the 32 000 year old bacteria is the possibility that…
6.       The danger zone for deadly pathogens which we have not faced for years is ……in frozen ground.
7.       Read through the list of disease forming bacteria that may come back to life. What enables them to survive being deep frozen for thousands of years is the fact that they…
8.       The viruses that go through the same process also survive provided they are…
9.       The reactivation of ancient pathogens could be accelerated by …………….
10.   The findings scientists looking into pathogens deep in the permafrost prove that we are wrong to assume that………
11.   What important conclusion can be drawn from the findings in the Mexican mine?
12.   What surprising fact emerged concerning the 4 million year old bacteria discovered in the Lechuguilla cave?
13.   What conclusion can be drawn from the above information?
14.   How did ancient bacteria develop antibiotic resistance considering that modern antibiotics hadn’t been invented?
15.   How does the writer justify the above revelation?
16.   What current concern has been proved to be unfounded by the new research into pathogens? Human activity did not lead to…
17.   What new concern has been raised by the new research into pathogens?
18.   Read about the two reactions to the findings concerning pathogens in permafrost. Which view does the writer take? Why?
Write an essay in which you discuss the reasons we should be concerned about melting permafrost.
This interesting text has a lot in common with sci-fi films and TV series concerning pestilences that wipe out civilization or devastate human populations but the difference is that this is real. Since it is a completely new topic, it should also have a wow factor.
1.       Respond to each other (The phrase means “answer”)
2.       Lying dormant and springing back to life / Infection 
3.       Older layers of permafrost are melting
4.       It is cold, there is no oxygen and it is dark
5.       There may be life elsewhere in the universe
6.       Cemeteries
7.       Form spores
8.       Giant viruses
9.       Industrial exploitation (including mining for gold and minerals, and drilling for oil and gas)
10.   A virus can be eradicated from the planet
11.   Pathogens cut off from humans  will emerge from other places too
12.   The bacteria had become resistant to 18 types of antibiotics including drugs considered to be a last resort for fighting infections.
13.   Antibiotic resistance has been around for millions even billions of years
14.   Many types of fungi even other bacteria naturally produce antibiotics.
15.   The bacteria are only resistant to natural antibiotics (which come from fungi and make up about 99.9% of all antibiotics we use)
16.   Antibiotic resistance
17.   Bacteria emerging from melting permafrost may already have antibiotic resistance
18.   The second; if the pathogen hasn’t been in contact with humans for a long time, then our immune system would not be prepared. So it could be dangerous.