Monday, December 24, 2018

Friday, December 21, 2018


Are private schools elitist? Are they divisive or are they a legitimate choice? Should we follow Finland’s example and abolish them all or should we maintain the status quo? Do your research and decide. When you are ready, write an essay in which you defend your own point of view and refute the counter arguments.
Thanks are due to my friend and colleague Aslı Baysallı for suggesting the topic and helping with material.
Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays:
Familiarize yourself with the issue
·         Will abolishing private schools improve the education system? 
Reading material to make notes on
·         Should private education be banned?
·         What did I learn at private school? They should be abolished
·         The only way to end the class divide: the case for abolishing private schools:
·         5 More reasons why you should consider private schools
·         The benefits of private schools
Videos to take notes from
·         Should private schools be abolished? John Rees debates Dr Sheila Lawlor
·         Panel: abolish private schools

Thursday, December 13, 2018


Curiosity, or the desire to discover and understand, is an innate characteristic we all share. Its cultivation bestows untold benefits on individuals and even humanity as a whole considering all the wonderful innovations and discoveries that have been triggered by it. Do your research to discover the incredible power of curiosity and write an essay discussing what it entails and its advantages.
Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays:
Familiarize yourself with the issue
·         The Power of Curiosity
·         The Power of Curiosity   
Reading material to make notes on
·         The power of curiosity  
·         Six surprising benefits of curiosity
·         The Benefits of Curiosity
·         The secret benefits of a curious mind   
Videos to watch and take notes from
·         The power of curiosity
·         The value curiosity
·         Curiosity fuels creativity

Wednesday, December 12, 2018


Published: October 12, 2018, The British Psychological Society Research Digest  
Level of Difficulty: ***
·         Copy paste the text on to , listen, highlight your own hard copy and make notes in the margins.   
1.       What does “It” in the phrase “It is a question…” refer to?
2.       Click on the following link: and read the brief account of the study. What surprising observation was made during the study?
3.       What conclusion can be drawn from this observation?
4.       Some years ago, research was carried out to try and verify the hypothesis that black people were less intelligent than white people. What could have prompted such research?
5.       What even scarier observation is made in the text concerning dehumanization?
6.       Click on the following link: What disturbing conclusion was reached in the study? 
7.       Refer to the same study. What comforting conclusion was reached in the above study?
8.       Refer back to the original text. The kindness very young children show you is positively correlated with…
9.       What is the disadvantage of our belief in universal justice?
10.   Read the account of the Milgram test. What was the underlying reason for the subject’s attitude to the female learner?
11.   If someone believed that Obama is a secret Muslim born in Kenya and he was shown Obama’s birth certificate, how would he react? Why?
12.   What general conclusion can we draw from the Obama example?
13.   Read the examples of the studies concerning electrocution. We can deduce from all these examples that…
14.   Watch the following video: People with this problem can be described as…
15.   Watch the following video: Why do the people in the study in the video claim they love the band that doesn’t exist?
16.   Read the section titled “We are moral hypocrites”. The various cases described in this section are all examples of ……………….and prove that we are……….
17.   All the studies concerning trolling reached the common conclusion that…
18.   Click and watch: Which of Trump’s personality traits emerge the most strongly? What has his goal always been?
19.   The fact that psychopathic traits are more common than average among leaders proves that ….
20.   What appears to be the reason for being attracted to people with the dark personality traits?
This is a fascinating text analyzing what we humans are really like. I have tried to cover as many of the main points in the article as I could but that has had a downside too: 20 questions. The solution is to cover them in batches; students don’t have to do them all in one sitting. I found the text fascinating; I hope you all do too.
1.       The following two questions. Strictly speaking, you can’t begin a sentence with “Or”; imagine this sentence as a continuation of the previous one.
2.       Pictures of the homeless or of drug addicts failed to trigger activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, and instead prompted activity in the areas of the brain related to disgust. OR Students exhibited less neural activity associated with thinking about people when they looked at pictures of the homeless or of drug addicts, as compared with higher-status individuals
3.       Members of some social groups seem to be dehumanised (at least as indicated by the absence of the typical neural signature for social cognition
4.       Blatant dehumanization of black people
5.       The inclination to dehumanise starts early (children as young as five view out-group faces as less human than in-group faces.)
6.       Even four-year-olds seem to experience modest amounts of Schadenfreude
7.       Overall the children’s levels of schadenfreude were low (is enough)
9.       We perceive the vulnerable and suffering as to some extent deserving their fate
10.   Derogating the woman made them feel less bad about her dismal fate
11.   He would double-down on his initial view / We see opposing facts as undermining our sense of identity and many of us are overconfident about how much we understand things
12.   We humans are worryingly close-minded
13.   The prospect of spending time in our own thoughts is so anathema we’d actually rather electrocute ourselves
14.   Vain and overconfident
15.   No one wants to appear clueless about something they claim to enjoy in front of a camera
16.   Self-serving double-standards / moral hypocrites
17.   Ordinary users will troll when mood and discussion context prompt such behavior”.
18.   Aggression / To be number one
19.   We are not inclined to choose leaders with rare virtuousness and skill
20.   The dark traits successfully communicate “mate quality” in terms of confidence and the willingness to take risks.

Thursday, December 6, 2018


Materialism and consumerism are the mantra of modern civilization but we don’t often stop to consider what effect our habits are having on us, our environment and the other creatures we share the planet with. Do your research and write a long essay discussing the causes and effects of consumerism. Alternatively, write about either the causes or the effects.
Familiarise yourself with the issue:
·         Consumerism
Reading material to make notes on:
·         Consumerism, its causes and consequences
·         The problem with consumerism
·         Effects of consumerism
·         The negative effects of consumerism 
Videos to watch and take notes from:
·         History: Consumerism
·         Less stuff, more happiness

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

Thursday, November 29, 2018


By Talya Rachel Meyers
Level of Difficulty: **
·         Jessica Tracy: "Take Pride”
1.   What misconception is mentioned in the introduction? The belief that…
2.   What does “This” refer to in the sentence “This makes sense”?
3.   What convincing piece of evidence is offered to support the evolutionary basis of pride?
4.   What specific conclusion can we draw from Leda Cosmides’ explanation?
5.   The display of pride is important socially because in its absence …
6.   What interesting parallelism was discovered to exist as a result of the 2017 study?
7.    What does “it” refer to in the phrase “to figure it out”?
8.    Did the result of the second study support or disprove the original hypothesis concerning pride?
9.    The second study also proved that level of……………..was not a contributing factor as initially suspected.
10.  What seemingly illogical reality does the writer draw attention to at this point?
11.  What distinction, often overlooked, is the real reason pride is viewed in a negative light?
12. What does “this” refer to in the phrase Cheng and Tracy have observed this…”?
13.  What is the take-home point from the discussion of pride you have just read?
Write an essay discussing why pride may be a positive as well as a negative emotion.

This simple and straightforward text covers a very sophisticated concept: the nature and role of pride. It is very well organized and will lead to a good writing activity. The video at the beginning is longish but important as it overlaps so well with the text.
1.   Pride makes us obnoxious at best and doomed at worst.
2.   The fact that this emotion has an evolutionary function, and that it plays an important role in the way that we interact with the world.
3.    An erect posture, expanded arms, and uplifted head is produced even by people who have been blind since birth
4.    Pride evolved to provide us – and the people around us – with social benefit
5.  People don’t know what your success is, and they don’t know how much  they should value you.
6. The amount of pride that we feel in an accomplishment is parallel to the amount of value that other people place on it.
7.  Whether this closely-calibrated pride was an evolved, fundamentally human trait, or something that was learned by members of a global culture.
8.    It supported it
9.    Industrialization
10. If pride is such a vital part of how we navigate the world around us, then why is it seen so negatively?
11.  The distinction between hubristic pride and authentic pride
12.  People who have authentic pride in their successes actually navigate the world beautifully
13. The key is to focus on achieving and accomplishing certain goals or qualities, rather than trying to achieve the recognition itself.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


There are various different forms of courage and one of the most vital for our well-being and success is emotional courage, which benefits us on all sorts of levels. Do your research and discover what emotional courage entails, how it affects our lives and how to boost it. When you are ready, write an essay on the topic. This essay is categoized under "cause and effect essays" but it is a hybrid in form containing elements of a definition essay, a cause effect essay and a problem solution essay and this is normal.
Familiarize yourself with the issue:
·         An exemplary story: The Lion’s whisker
·         Emotional courage 
Reading material to make notes on
·        What is emotional courage?
Videos to take notes from
·         The gift and power of emotional courage
·         Peter Bregman - Leading With Emotional Courage - Bregman Leadership Podcast
·         Emotional courage
Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays:   

Thursday, November 22, 2018


Schadenfreude is defined as “the enjoyment obtained from the pain or troubles of others” and is the German word for a seemingly universal concept for which no word exists in English. Do your research to discover what exactly it is and write a definition essay.
Familiarize yourself with the concept
·         Schadenfreude

Reading material to make notes on

·         The secret joys of schadenfreude

·         The Roots of Schadenfreude: Why We Take Pleasure in Other People's Pain
·         Schadenfreude: the joy in others’ woes  
·         Schadenfreude sheds light on the darker side of humanity
Videos to watch and take notes from
·         Check Your Schadenfreude
·         Schadenfreude: Taking Pleasure in the Pain of Others

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

Sunday, November 18, 2018


A denialist is described in the Oxford English Dictionary as A person who refuses to admit the truth of a concept or proposition that is supported by the majority of scientific or historical evidence”. At first glance, it seems completely illogical for it to exist yet exist it does, and there are some important reasons why. Do your research and find out what they are and write an essay on the topic.
Familiarize yourself with the issue:
·         What’s behind denialism?
Reading material to make notes on:
·         Denialism: What Drives People to Reject the Truth?
·         Denial makes the world go round
·         How to convince someone when facts fail
·         Why facts don’t change our minds
Videos to take notes from
·         Science Literacy | 3.1 Denialism - Why Do People Deny Science?
·         Science Literacy | 3.2 Denialism - How Can We Recognize Science Denialism?
·         The danger of science denial | Michael Specter
Refer to my second blog, The Essay Archive, for sample essays: