Saturday, May 26, 2018


By: Maria Kasmirli
Level of Difficulty: **
·         PHILOSOPHY - Language: Conventional Implicature [HD]
1.       You are reviewing reference letters; which would you be more likely to view favorably:
·         For a position as a caregiver: She is a very kind and thoughtful person/ She is a very efficient and sensible person
·         For a position as a teacher:  He is kind and thoughtful / He is efficient and sensible
2.       Explain in your own words the reasons for the answers you gave for the first question.
3.       Listen to the following short talk on the Gricean maxims: You are travelling in remote region of a conservative country. You are talking to a local tribesman. You ask: How many children do you have? He answers two but in fact he has two sons and three daughters. Is the tribesman flouting the Gricean maxims? Why or why not?
4.       Somebody asks you what kind of a person your colleague is and you answer “He is a very nice person”. Which maxim are you flouting? Explain.
5.       You are interviewing a politician. You ask: how do you plan to improve the economy? The politician answers by giving a long explanation about the importance of a strong economy. Which Gricean maxim is being flouted?
6.       You are a hiker and you are in the mountainous region of Eastern Anatolia. You come across a shepherd and ask him if there is a village nearby. He answers that it is a little further on. You later discover it is 10 km away. Why did the shepherd answer the way he did?
7.       Refer to the example given in question 4. How could the implicature in this statement be cancelled?
8.       Listen to the following poem: What was Wordsworth’s purpose in writing the way he did?
9.       One of the first things rape victims are asked by their lawyers is whether they explicitly said “No”. Actually saying “No” rather than “leave me alone” or “I want to go home” prevents any issues with…..and thus leaves no room for misunderstanding
Write an essay in which you discuss the following question from the text: “Are we responsible for what we implicate as well as what we actually say?”. Defend your standpoint and remember to give concrete examples
This text introduces Paul Grice’s conversational maxims, discusses them at length and provides examples. It also raises an interesting dilemma which is addressed in the writing task. Due to the way the text has been written, the questions include examples which are not in the text.
1.       The first for the caregiver, The second for the teacher
2.       In the case of the caregiver, the second implies that the person does the job well and but is not necessarily a people person whereas the first stresses that the person is a people person but not necessarily efficient. It is more important for a caregiver to be kind and thoughtful because the rest can be taught. In the case of the teacher, the ideal would be for the candidate to have all four qualities but the implication in the first that statement is that he is not necessarily efficient and this quality needs to take precedence.
3.       No he isn’t because what he says is in fact true; what he fails to explain is that he has two sons and three daughters. Knowing the social context would help the listener correctly grasp the implication.
4.       Quality. This is an example of what is called damning with faint praise and it means that the colleague is lacking professionally.
5.       Relation
6.       To show cooperation ; he spends his life roaming the mountains with his flock and his dogs and we must assume he feels 10 km is walking distance
7.       By adding a statement like “He is also very efficient, or experienced” for example.
8.       To generate rich indeterminate implicatures
9.       Conversational implicature

Friday, May 18, 2018


“Many personality traits can be observed but there are other hidden forces that shape who we are”
By: Christian Jarrett
Level of Difficulty: ** This is a simple level **
·         Bacteria can change your personality
·         How our microbes make us who we are
·         Mind altering microbes: how the microbiome affects brain and behavior
1.       It is a mistake to assess personality based on what we witness because…
2.       Research into how personality is linked to biology has significant implications because…
3.       What vision did Allport and Eysenc share?  Trying to prove that…
4.       What subtitle would you give the paragraph beginning “Take” and the following two paragraphs: cortisol and stress / conscientiousness analyzed / conscientiousness and cortisol / conscientiousness and stress
5.       The 2017 study was able to reach more conclusive results as a consequence of more effective analysis / more accurate predictions/ more thorough research / more effective sampling.
6.       The studies into conscientiousness and neuroticism prove that there is a positive correlation between…
7.       Which sentence best expresses the conclusion that can be drawn from the research into conscientiousness neruroticism?
8.       Where, in the paragraph beginning “The picture” would you place the following: It must be admitted more research needs to be done to better understand this causal relationship?
9.       Watch the following short video and take a few notes: . We understand from this video and the text that a low resting heart rate isn’t all it is cracked up to be because such people may experience………..and …………..and as a result may engage in…………..
10.    According to the relationship between chemical or physical aspects of our body and covert personality traits described in the text, it is possible / impossible to detect potential criminals even though some symptoms may be misleading/predictive/prescriptive. (Question contributed by my assistant Sinan Çakmak)
11.   From the realization that our character is closely linked to our physical make-up it follows that physical tests in order to…..
Write an essay describing the link between our physiology and our personality and mental health. Use the text and all the videos you have watched
This fascinating but relatively simply written text highlights the latest research into the links between our microbiome and our personality. Some of the information is truly interesting and could lead to interesting discussions into the extent we can blame violent criminals for their crimes or the prevention of crime.
1.       It doesn’t tell us much about the roots of personality
2.       Personality is strongly associated with our future mental and physical health and longevity. (This is enough but it is fine if you add the next sentence too)
3.       Psychology is grounded in physiology
4.       The third
5.       The second
6.       Our physical and mental health
7.       The personality and the microbiome are linked and this could help explain why people with a more neurotic, less conscientious personality are more vulnerable to illness than others
8.       After “… in the gut and vice versa.”
9.       Fearlessness and low arousal / criminal behavior (The video must be watched to be able to answer the question.
10. Possible, 
11.   Measure personality

Monday, May 14, 2018


The modern workplace can inflict dangerous levels of stress on employees. Jeffrey Pfeffer, author of “Dying for a Paychack” argues that these practices don’t help companies – and warns governments are ignoring an emerging public health crisis
By: Jeff Pfiffer
Level of Difficulty: **
·         Is your workplace killing you?
·         Trouble at work: Jefferey Pfiffer on fixing leadership failure
1.       The examples listed in the first paragraph are all those of people who suffered as a result of…
2.       What makes harmful workplace practices a special concern is …
3.       The findings of the world economic forum seem to support the view that…
4.       Where in the paragraph beginning “The aptly named…” would you place the following: which proves that it is in the interest of the government and big business to seek to rectify the situation?
5.       The fact that harmful management practices have been allowed to go on for so long is surprising because…
6.       What companies need to do to address the problem is to ………so as to………..
7.       Read the information concerning job insecurity. The current job insecurity described in the text is due to a shift from….to….in the management of companies.
8.       The above shift means a complete disregard for ….
Write a short essay or paragraph describing harmful workplace practices and the effects they have on employees.
This is a simply written and straightforward text on current workplace practices and as such, should appeal to adult learners who may also be working. Some of what is described in the text should be familiar to these people and hopefully, they will have plenty to contribute during the class discussion. The writing task should follow seamlessly from this discussion.
1.       Harmful workplace practices
2.       Rising healthcare costs all over the world
3.       Your supervisor is more important to your health than your family doctor.
4.       At the end of the sentence beginning “A paper I co-authored…” after a comma
5.       The work practices that are bad for people don’t help the company either
6.       Give people more control over how and when they do their jobs / increase motivation and engagement
7.       Stakeholder capitalism to shareholder interests
8.       The physical and psychological well-being of people who come to work

Friday, May 11, 2018


“A surprisingly potent technique can boost your short and long-term recall – and it appears to help everyone from students to Alzheimer’s patients.”
By: David Robson
Level of Difficulty: **
·         Spaced learning and interleaving to improve student learning
·         How to master spaced repetition and improve your memory
1.       What conclusion can be drawn from the first paragraph? Where else could the answer be placed?
2.       What natural inclinations should be resisted during time-out? Why? The inclination to….because…
3.       What is the significance of the new discovery concerning time-out?
4.       What significant conclusion was reached as a result of Muller’s experiment?
5.       Where would you place the following clause: "proving that undisturbed rest benefitted recall across the board"?
6.       Where would you place the following clause: "which goes to show what little sense long class hours with no breaks makes"?
7.       What bonus to the already proven advantage of time-out did Della Sala discover?
8.       Where would you place the following: The reason may be that this is too similar to a structured activity and not a rest?
9.       Why is the view that consolidation occurs during sleep misleading? Because consolidation…
10.   What general conclusion can be drawn from all that has been said so far?
11.   What is the potential problem with trying to work down time into daily life?
12.   A. What warning does the writer offer us all?
B. Students would do well to take the above advice seriously because…
Write an essay in which you discuss the tactics students can use to improve their performance. One of these tactics, uninterrupted down-time, you have just read about. Here are some more: overlearning, interleaving and chocking. Complete your research and write an essay in which you bring everything together.
·         Overloading
·         Interleaved learning
This wonderful text gave me the opportunity to focus on learning strategies and some of the mistakes that are made while studying. I thought it would be a good idea to bring overloading , chocking and the like into the picture as well so although the writing task draws on the text, the students will need to do more research before they can write. Hopefully, they will find all that they learn useful.
1.       We should pace our studies; right at the beginning of paragraph one
2.       The inclination to run errands, check your emails or surf the web on your smartphones; because you really need to give your brain the chance for a complete recharge with no distractions
3.       It may also offer some relief for people with amnesia and some forms of dementia.
4.       Our memory for new information is especially fragile just after it has first been encoded.
5.       After “… with no neurological damage” right at the end of the paragraph beginning “The impact of the small intervention…”
6.       After 10 and 30%, at the end of the paragraph beginning “The next results…”
7.       Short periods of rest can improve spatial memories
8.       Before the last sentence in the paragraph beginning “Even then,…”
9.       Is not limited to sleep, similar neural activity occurs during periods of wakeful rest too
10.   The brain takes any potential down time to cement what it has recently learnt – and reducing extra stimulation at this time may ease that process.
11.   It may be difficult to schedule enough periods of rest to increase overall daily recall
12.   A. Our smartphones aren’t the only thing that needs a regular recharge. Our minds clearly do too.
B. The 10-30% improvements recorded in these studies could mark the difference between a grade or two.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018


“From fireside folk tales to Netflix dramas, narratives are essential to every society – and evolutionary theorists are now trying to figure out why, writes David Robson
By: David Robson
Level of difficulty: **
·         The Epic of Gilgamesh
·         The Odyssey
1.       What is noteworthy about the Epic of Gilgamesh?
2.       We can infer from the introduction to the article that the Epic of Gilgamesh encompasses some
·         Some universal themes which are still valid today
·         Some important characteristics that researchers are interested in
·         Themes and characters that appear in fiction worldwide
·         The same themes as Homer’s Odyssey and Harry Potter
·         All of the above
3.       What obvious conclusion can be drawn from the cave paintings in France?
4.       We can safely assume that people would not spend so much time buried in fiction if it were just a form of …
5.       The results of the brain scans of subjects reading or hearing a story prove that …
6.       Why are the results of the above study significant in terms of society as a whole?
7.       What conclusion can be drawn concerning the dominant themes in stories throughout history?
8.       Why did moral decision making and cooperation become such an important theme in stories?
9.       The positive correlation between storytelling and increased cooperation in society proves that…
10.   The similarity between Odysseus and the Epic of Gilgamesh is that they both emphasize…
11.   What surprising discovery was made after studying the answers of the panel of readers?
12.   Why did Thackeray call Vanity Fair a novel without a hero?
13.   What does “this reason” in the phrase “It is for this reason that…” refer to?
14.   The ultimate purpose of portraying evil characters they way we do is to …
15.   The universality and timelessness of fiction stems, according to McEwan, from the fact that…
Write an essay discussing why stories are important to societies.
This is a relatively straightforward text on the important place story telling holds in society and the writer makes some interesting points concerning universal themes and the reasons why they have persisted through the ages. It is a well written text and should provide opportunities for plenty of discussion and a good writing task.
1.       It is read and enjoyed today / it is read today
2.       The first
3.       Narratives have been central to human life for thousands of years
4.       Pure escapism
5.       Storytelling is a form of cognitive play that hones our minds (allowing us to simulate…)
6.       The more people read fiction, the easier they find it to empathize with other people
7.       Our prehistoric preoccupations still shape the form of the stories we enjoy
8.       Because humans evolved to live in bigger societies
9.       Moral decision making in tales translated to daily activities.
10.   Cooperation and friendship
11.   Our interest in cooperation has not dwindled with the increasing individualism of the Industrial Revolution.
12.   Because the ruthlessly ambitious (and possibly murderous) Becky Sharp was at the very center of the novel
13.   A greater chance that your genes will be passed onto a greater number of grandchildren
14.   Reinforce our own sense of altruism and loyalty to the group
15.   We share some common emotional ground, some deep reservoir of assumptions with the writer even though he is from a time remote from our own or from a culture that was profoundly different from our own

Monday, May 7, 2018


The idea that intelligence declines with age was proved to be a misconception some time ago by Cattell and Horn. In their pioneering research into intelligence, they stated that there were two types of intelligence and that one declines with age and the other doesn’t. Do your research into these two types of intelligence to discover what they are, how they compare and how to develop them. Then write an essay.
Note to the student: the reading material suggested needs to be covered after the power point, the slides and the videos because it builds on the basic facts and goes beyond them.
Familiarize yourself with the issue:
·         Cattell and Horn’s fluid and crystallized theory of intelligence  
·         Fluid and crystallized intelligence
Videos to take notes from
·         Fluid and Crystallized Intelligence
·         Fluid versus Crystallized Intelligence
·         Crystallized intelligence
·         Fluid intelligence
Reading material to make notes on

·         Superfluidity: Fluid Intelligence Goes Beyond Brain Size

·         How do motor regions of the brain drive fluid intelligence?

·         Can physical activities improve fluid intelligence?

·         Too much crystallized thinking lowers fluid intelligence

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