Is anyone else alarmed?

The 'tag line' in my sent emails reads "There is nothing more economically damaging that a set of beliefs lacking any underpinning in data, empiricism or common sense - any opinion asserted without evidence can be summarily dismissed without evidence. Matt McGee, Christopher Hitchens " My wife saw this on a recent trip to Ukraine. Gotta love a country that really hasn't arrived at the Political Correctness cliff! I have long since gaped in astonishment and dismay at the recent inclusion of ...

Plato and the art of political weaving

Plato’s political views are usually associated with ‘The Republic’ and its detailed analysis of the perfect political and social community. The possibly apocryphal dialogue on ‘The Laws’ sheds further light on the necessity to establish just laws in order to channel the virtuous inclinations of human nature and curb its dangerous excesses. A third, late dialogue is ‘Politikos’ dedicated to the expert on political matters as distinguished from the sophist who resorts to specious arguments to win his case or ...

Good Practice – Carrying out a lab

Here is an idea I got from a colleague of mine recently for a novel way of getting your students to plan a lab investigation. It is a model that could be rolled back and used in a variety of labs and it is very straightforward to do. Essentially, you give the students a task (for example, testing for halides) and then give the students a framework in which they can plan their own personal investigation. For example, you give them ...

Knowing me…

The next two blogs will focus on the nature of two aspects of personal knowledge, namely, knowledge of oneself and knowledge of others. What the psychologist Howard Gardner described as Intrapersonal and Interpersonal knowledge. Of course, the entreaty to ‘know thyself’ is an ancient one, it can be found first in Egypt and then at the heart of Socratic philosophy as well as, among others, in the writings of the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tze. The latter wrote, “mastering others is ...

Is it fake nature, or is it a story?

First, I'd like to explore the "Is it fake nature" part of my post's title: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMZlr5Gf9yY "The 1958 Disney documentary into lemmings that won the academy award. Footage of lemmings jumping off cliffs was later found out to be faked. Edited version just showing the fake footage." My guess is that most of you reading this post are not old enough to have watched the above television show when it was first broadcast in 1958.  (I will admit that I remember it vividly.  It ...

Expanding the Context – The Often Forgotten Criterion of the Listening Exam Rubric

It's the time of year to carefully plan your listening for the exam!   The often forgotten criterion from the listening paper rubric is Criteria D: Context.  Let's discuss expanding the context of each of your answers.   What is “context”? IB defines context as historical, cultural and stylistic characteristics. Here are types of contextual information: Questions that are cultural in nature are: Function of music – What was this played for? Why was it written? Nationality, location, geography – This is especially important for ...

Kantian Evil or the misuse of human freedom

For Kant, there is no absolute evil, but a ‘radical’ evil which is literally at the root of human freedom as there is a natural, human inclination to act according to our desires and passions and to choose the easier path instead of the path of duty. To posit the omnipresence of Evil in the world would, for Kant, imply a malignant deity, thwarting any human effort to achieve any level of moral rectitude or virtue. Evil, therefore, is not ...

Changing mortality in England and Wales

Better health care and improved living conditions has led to a continuing fall in mortality in England and Wales since the end of the Second World War. Between 2003 and 2013, life expectancy in England rose by 3 years for men and 2.3 years for women. Deaths among the elderly are expected to push up the mortality rate eventually, but probably not until after 2025, when many of the population reach their late 70s and 80s. However, in 2012 and ...

“They’re rioting in Africa….”

I grew up in what might be termed an 'old fashioned household' - another way of saying that much of what I call my personal tastes are in fact hand-me-downs from my parents. One example is my taste in music, which ranges from Ramstein and Metallica to Judy Henske and The Kingston Trio - the latter two from the 1960's. I have just received the pack of this year's exam papers (relax, none of the content will be published anywhere on ...

What is the role of a teacher during exam season?

Just over a week to go and this really is the final run in.  In most school now, the students are on exam leave and should be in ‘exam mode’ i.e., they should be working VERY hard and teachers should be ready and willing to answer any and all questions. Our role now, it to keep the students positive.  It is crucial that they keep working and see that there is a point to this – particularly in physics where the ...