On the Convergence of Two Creative Revolutions

The “Roaring Twenties” are generally associated with a period of unbridled excess after the traumatic experience of the First World War. While young Americans revelled to the syncopated rhythms of jazz music, two groups of European philosophers and artists were desperately searching for new meanings after the annihilation of all previous moral certainties.  The first group, led by the German architect Walter Gropius, set out to redefine the rules of architecture as well as craft and design. Their vision of a ...

The process of learning

In July and August 2019 I was lucky enough to be preparing for a Kathakali performance that would take place in the Kerala Kathakali Centre, India. Having studied Kathakali for over 10 years it was now time for me to perform in one of the most perfectly structured Kathakali plays ever written. I was going to be playing the role of Panchali in "Kalyanasaugandhikam" ("The Flower of Good Fortune"). Panchali in Kalyanasaugandhikam   As I was going through my own process of ...

A Story of Cheating

In a recent visual arts workshop, we had a lot of discussions about academic honesty and how to detect plagiarism, and one of the teachers described this encounter: One of his students returned to school after the summer break with an absolutely outstanding artwork – big, colourful, complex, clever and thought-provoking. …and completely unlike (and better than) anything the student created in the entire first year. Academic honesty alarm bells started ringing loudly for our teacher. He asked the student to show the ...

Acid Base Theory

I’m just about to start teaching the acids and bases topic to my students. Acids and bases are interesting compounds because the terms ‘acid’ and ‘base’ are just labels we have given to explain different types of reactions. The topic always starts with an introduction to acid base theory and usually covers the ‘Bronsted Lowry’ theory, as well as the ‘Lewis’ theory (of acids and bases). So what are these different theories and are there any differences between what is a ...

More flooding is inevitable, says IPCC

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) extreme events that used to have a return period of once every century could be happening on some coastlines very year by 2050.They reported that serious impacts in the world’s oceans and ice caps are inevitable. However, they also point out that impacts could be even worse without a reduction in fossil fuel emissions, including sea level rises of over 4 metres by 2300. The oceans are under great threat from sea ...

Silver chemistry

Silver offers some interesting opportunities to do something different with your teaching. You may teach about it / include it when you are looking at the halogens or when covering redox reactions. I hope this blog post gives you some ideas. If you are including some silver chemistry in your teaching of redox you will probably cover disproportionation – a redox reaction where a species of the same element (it may be the same element in a compound) gets simultaneously oxidised ...

High yielding seeds in East Africa

In eastern Uganda, population growth has forced farmers to farm smaller plots of land. Whereas in the past many farmers had access to manure from their animals, increasingly they are having to rely on chemical fertilisers. Moreover, farmers used to keep part of one year’s crop to plants for the following year’s produce. This has become less common and farmers are more likely to buy high yielding varieties (HYVs) of seed to produce their crop. HYVs, along with irrigation water ...

Urban farming

Urban farming (also known as vertical farming) is an intensive form of agriculture which produces high quality crops year round. Crops are grown in an artificial environment in which temperature and humidity are carefully controlled. Up to 95% of water is recycled and nutrients are carefully provided. LED lighting provides the wavelengths that plants require so energy is saved. Insects are not present so pesticides are not required. Nevertheless, electricity bills are high and the threat of power cuts is a ...

Deforestation in Brazil

Brazil accounts for around 40% of the world’s rain forests and around 10-15% of the world’s biodiversity. Over the last fifty years, it has lost about 20% of the original 4 million km2 of rainforest due to farming, logging, dam construction, mining and other infrastructural developments. At the same time, average temperatures have increased by 0.6ºC, and the area has experienced a number of severe droughts. Between 2004 and 2012, the rate of deforestation slowed down, but by 2017 it had ...

A cocktail party of literary theories

If you met Aristotle at a party he might inquire if you live the golden mean. This moralist theory is useful to consider characterisation, themes and reader response. Reader-response theorists believe texts need to have a reader before it can mean anything. They will ask you to fill the gaps and make connections. At this party, the post-structuralist host serves drinks, muttering “gaps and silences”. Those who are interested in psychoanalytical theory argue that the emotional conflicts between characters are most important ...