Literature into Film, and a Poem

Assuming you might have a bit a breathing and reflection time as the New Year begins,  you might find this article, which you can access online through the 6 free articles offered by JSTOR, relevant to what you are doing in your classroom.  We all, I think, use film versions of literary works for one purpose or another in our explorations of texts.  Some of you may currently have students offering their IOPs on cinematic adaptations of works they have ...

Blast from the Past

Thirty Years Ago In December I thought I’d dig a little into some IBDP visual arts memories and look at the course as it was 30 years ago, when I was a young and eager art teacher (not so young now but still eager!). I confess I have a slight tendency to hoard, and up in the loft there are many boxes of ‘old stuff’. Some of it dates from the 1980s – a period when computers were primitive by today’s standards ...

Isaiah Berlin and the Vexing Issue of Liberty

When Isaiah Berlin died in 1997, his conceptions of liberty and value pluralism were to be read within the dying tradition of totalitarian politics, as implemented by Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany. For the Russian-born thinker whose family escaped to England in 1921, Rousseau, Hegel and Marx were directly responsible for a warped interpretation of freedom enabling the state to force its citizens to conform to its own needs and ethereal collective aspirations.  His answer was a more realistic solution that ...

The Halogens

Topic 3.2 of the periodic table deals with periodic trends. In particular, under the applications and skills section, we are told to 'discuss the similarities and differences in the properties of elements in the same group, with reference to the halogens (group 17).' In this month’s blog, I thought I would share with you my way of teaching this particular aspect of the course. It goes without saying that the halogens are toxic, poisonous and in general pretty nasty. You the teacher ...

Ancient Babylonians Do It Again!

Babylon – in ancient Mesopotamia, now Iraq – hosted one of the earliest recorded civilisations. Partly because they became a trading nation, they developed some of the earliest mathematical techniques. We already know that they were aware of what we now call Pythagoras' Theorem (in a numeric sense, since algebra didn't exist), but the some of the secrets of a tablet known as Plimpton 322 have been unravelled to show that they had developed a highly sophisticated form of trigonometry, ...

Living Planet Report 2018

The WWF’s 2018 Living Planet Report has been released (links to the full report and the summary can be found here: https://wwf.panda.org/knowledge_hub/all_publications/living_planet_report_2018/). It makes sobering reading. The Report shows that there has been a decline in the wildlife population of 60% over the past 40 years. It estimates that the value of environmental goods and services to humanity is around US $125 trillion annually. The Report highlights the great acceleration i.e. the increasing impact of human activity on all aspects ...

Dunning Kruger Analysis

Dunning who? Dunning Kruger Analysis is doing the rounds in my school – it's the current buzz phrase. I've been in this game for too long and am always sceptical of new initiatives, but this one did catch my eye and I think it has some mileage. The theory has been around for nearly 20 years and was first applied, like a lot of the new ideas coming into teaching via business models. The idea works by applying the idea the people who do ...

The Best Primary Source – Talk to the Artist!

Research into art The Comparative Study and the Process Portfolio both involve some level of research into and review of artworks. Inevitably, for many students a lot of this research is ‘second-hand’, e.g. looking for information on the Internet. There is nothing wrong with this (providing everything is correctly referenced and all sources are acknowledged!). Better still is to actually see the real thing, for example, by visiting an art gallery. The horse's mouse However, for information gathering and the answers to specific questions ...

The New Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HKZM)

The new 55-km Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HKZM) – the world’s longest sea-bridge, links three main cities in the greater bay Area of China (formerly called the Pearl River Delta). The Bay Area is China’s economic powerhouse, accounting for 14% of China’s GDP in 2017, but only 5% of its population. China’s economy has been slowing down, and there are problems related to inequalities in wealth, an ageing workforce and increasing pollution of air and water. It is hoped that the ...

What Is Entropy?

Entropy is covered in the AHL part of the course: Topic 15.1 in the energetics / thermochemistry unit. The entropy change (symbol = S) in a chemical reaction is determined by as follows: total entropy change = total entropy of products – total entropy of the reactants You will have probably been taught that entropy is a measure of disorder. Order goes to disorder. The universe is expanding (and therefore getting more disordered). Liquid water has a greater entropy than solid water (ice) ...