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 ‘faith’ and ‘religion’ as, respectively, ways and areas of knowing/knowledge in ToK. I pondered that for a few minutes and then looked up in which geographical areas the IB showed the most growth in students and/or schools. Uh-huh, you guessed it but maybe you should just look it up too. Tell me if you see a pattern that makes sense – as in common sense rather than the fat pink cloud of that last redoubt of wannabe-wisdom where we never actually know anything.

Enough, that is an issue for a separate round of slobbering fulmination. Here the issue is instead the extended essay (EE) update for first grades next year.

Economists have a tendency to see patterns where perhaps none exist. It’s  been driven in to us over the years – we basically have a built-in propensity to scan our immediate (think ‘bounded’!) horizon and see links between societal happenings. And, yes; of course we fall victim to what we so often warn our students about, namely the trap of spurious or nonsense correlation.

With that caveat of self-awareness in mind, I simply must ask if anyone sees a link or pattern – not the same, I know – between the following three goings-on:

X: The recent crops of university students in the US and to a lesser degree in the UK. See – amongst quite a few acerbic articles –  this article on the ‘Me-generation’ and this article on heightened political correctness.

Y: What seems to be the latest in-with-it-fashion trend at UK universities: here.

Z: The latest IB grading criteria for the EE: here and especially here (Criterion E).

Anything? Links/patterns? To be continued.

  • Jon inge
    May 24, 2017

    I’m reflecting on more unnecessary demands on teachers
    For some of the students the ee is a daunting and frightening prospect.
    To think of a viable research question independent demands great insight and sadly some students lack this capacity
    I can foresee a reflection which goes I didn’t know what to do
    Is it really necessary?

    • Matt McGee
      August 29, 2017

      Dear Jon,

      I agree in totem. I suppose what really alarms me is the distinct possibility that there is a trade-off between students putting effort into telling the examiner what they are feeling/doing/thinking…rather than actually *doing* it.

      Like Eli Wallach in ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ says; “If you’re going to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk.”



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