Silent Night

In this week, when few are in school, and many are on break for a number of reasons, it seemed worthwhile to consider traditions.  Now, Eric Hobsbawm talked about the invention of traditions in his book of the same name, but he was thinking about something slightly different: he was considering how, in the act of nation building (and not in the Kennedy-esque US way), that people create stories and customs about the past that are more nostalgia, and that have limited relationship to the past.  On the ...

Acid Deposition

The topic of acid deposition can be found in the SL section of the acids and bases unit, section 8.5. As a teacher, when I first read this title I had no idea what it meant, but, as with most things in the IB, the title is actually quite descriptive, once you know what the title means. The key word is ‘deposition’. It means (according to the definition in the online dictionary by Merriam-Webster), simply, ‘the act of being deposited’.1 So acid deposition ...

MOOCs, Artificial Intelligence, and Models of Thinking

A little background reading for this post: First, a quick Wikipedia definition of MOOC: 'A massive open online course is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as filmed lectures, readings, and problem sets, many MOOCs provide interactive user forums to support community interactions among students, professors, and teaching assistants (TAs). MOOCs are a recent and widely researched development in distance education which were first introduced in 2006 and emerged as a popular mode of learning in 2012.' ...

Process Portfolio Checklist

HAPPY 2018! It’s the New Year! If you are in your second year as a DP visual arts student, and are in a ‘May session’ school in the Northern Hemisphere, now would be a great time to review your progress to date: it’s time to check on what you have, and have not, done in relation to all three components (Comparative Study, Process Portfolio and Exhibition). As I hope you know, in around three months’ time you will be submitting all of this ...

Some Ideas for Thinking about World Literature

I've been poring over some materials I've used in workshops on 'Literature in Translation,' and thought it might be useful to share some of these resources and add in a frequent question about the Written Assignments. These articles are variable in their weightiness, but there are likely to at least be bits and pieces that you may find useful for deepening your own thinking or some ideas to explore in your classes. I like the following for its range of views ...

Some Mathematical Tips for the New Year

Happy New Year everybody! At this time last year I suggested some new year resolutions to help you in your studies. They are of course valid at all times, and if you didn't see them, then have a look now. This time I've got some tips which you might want to note down; they cover specific areas of the syllabus, although they aren't applicable to all of HL, SL, and Studies. Degrees or Radians? Well, it depends on what the question is asking you ...

…And One Last Go at Syntax

Here's an interesting set of recommendations about improving your writing through 'conscious syntax' that gets to the issue through a pair of basic sentences.  I like it and maybe you will, too: 10 Varieties of Syntax to Improve Your Writing It is this rich variety of word and phrase order and variation in punctuation that makes prose — fiction or nonfiction — readable. As you review your writing, make sure that you vary sentence structure among these and other constructions to create ...

Re-foresting the West

Across much of the Republic of Ireland, conifer plantations appear to be on the increase. This is partly to do with the easy returns from converting farmland to woodland. During the 1920s, when Ireland first became independent, woodland covered about 1% of the land—just 90,000 ha of forest. Although forests have been widespread in the country, centuries of deforestation had occurred to create farmland and for fuel. From the seventeenth century onwards, trees were cut to build ships or for ...

Oligarchy and Democracy (Part 2)

Plato regards the descent of political regimes into tyranny as a gradual process in which each type of government is transformed into an even more unjust or imperfect state. The oligarchic man is the son of the timarchic man who has lost his reputation and fortune ‘in some political disaster’. Reduced to poverty, his son neglects the dialectic power of reason which he uses instead to further his selfish materialistic ends. In his craving for money, the oligarchic man ‘is ...

Superacids

The concept of superacids was a new on to me until the other day when I read about a chemistry competition that had been held in Moscow earlier this summer. You may have been in this very competition so, if you had, and I get something wrong, please do put me right! The competition asked students to 'design' (on paper) an alien blood that resembled the blood in the 'Alien' movies. If you recall, this blood needed to be capable of ...