The TOK Presentation Planning Document

Many students will be busy putting the finishing touches to their TOK presentations, here are a few last minute pieces of advice. The planning document is the only evidence the IBO will have of your presentation, make sure it is filled in to ensure the best possible mark. As a matter of good practice, initially try and choose two or three Real Life Situations (RLS) before settling on one of them, not all RLS will necessarily provide good TOK material. Make a ...

Two german films, different histories

Last week I attended a film presentation at the London Reviews of Books bookshop by the novelist Ali Smith (her novel ‘How to be both’ is extraordinary, try to read this). The film was Mädchen in uniform (Germany 1931 dir: Leontine Sagan). I mention this as the film was an interesting descendant of the expressionist film making from the previous decade, in many of the same ways that ‘M’ (Germany 1931 dir: Fritz Lang) was. Both films were popular in their ...

‘Drones’ (Rosenthal US 2013): the rarest of things in popular cinema. An allegory.

This one is just a relatively quick post. More by way of recommendation than anything else. I was pleasantly surprised this week to discover a film called 'Drones' (Rosenthal US 2013). Essentially I was searching for some kind of guilty pleasure to pass a lonesome evening by, and such a contemporary take on the 'war on terror was potentially diverting. This film promised a fairly conventional low budget fare, the action being confined as it was to a simple functional box of ...

Exercise exploring film making techniques – Shot selections

The following is one in a series of simple exercises to encourage film students thinking about the mechanics of film making, and reflecting on creative choices made by film makers as conscious and intentional. My intention is that these exercises slot into the first semester of IB Film. Hopefully they will be a useful resource towards discussions leading to production portfolios, oral presentation and introducing the basic idea of supporting analytical ideas with actual examples of film language, the lingua franca ...

Education for Tomorrow

One reads a lot about robots these days, and also about "21st century education", "learning for tomorrow", etc. (If you doubt me, do a search on these terms).  But how far away is "tomorrow" -  a "time that is to come"? The other day this video, "Humans Need Not Apply" from CGP Grey,  came up in my YouTube subscription: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU The script for this video is at http://www.cgpgrey.com/blog/humans-need-not-apply, and links to all the technology mentioned is on the "About" tab on the YouTube page. Watching ...

An interesting topic for discussion or research

Recently my group have been exploring the relationship between documentary and propaganda films. One of our key points of reference has been Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the will 1934. And our discussions has raised the problematic of the amorality of formalism as a means for constructing or reading movies. It seemed to me that the main evidence against formalism is the distortion of apparent narrative economy and elegance by racist and morally bankrupt ideological perspectives. The films which spring most readily to ...

Stars in the Hollywood studio system

The following blog entry is an attempt to offer a perspective from which students might evaluate films made within the Hollywood studio system rather than just view the study of this as an historical topic. I should make a minor disclaimer here, in that the variables within the system were legion but understanding certain institutional determinants are crucial in any reading of a film from this period in the US, and one of these was the star system, both as ...

Examination Report 2013 part 3 – The Independent Study

In my blogs entries over the last month or so I've ben reviewing the 2013 examiners' report. I've divided these so that I can explore the observations on each of the three assessment components in detail. In this entry I'll try to interpret observations made on the Independent studies submitted for examination in 2013. As a supplement to this I would recommend a document I wrote for my own students, based on my observations from the scripts I examined during the May ...

Visual Arts and the Theory of Knowledge

I have been watching some Theory of Knowledge presentations by grade 11 students., and this afternoon saw a student discuss using the 'found' object as art, alluding to the works of Duchamp, Picasso, Carl Andre, Tony Cragg and Sarah Lucas. She was exploring the nature and purpose of contemporary western art, and she brought in the possibilities (and the possible value and validity) of garbage, trash and rubbish art. These ToK presentations require students to identify and explore the knowledge issues raised by ...