Working from Observation (“direct observation”)

In September, for many schools it’s the start of another school year, and if you are a DP visual arts student, you will be either returning for your 2nd year or starting your first. Where to Start? Of course, your teacher will probably suggest some initial directions that your art might follow to start with, but – depending on how much freedom you have – you might want to explore one of the most traditional routes in art-making: working from observation. I have ...

On the Inconvenience of Being Immortal

The most fundamental premise of philosophy is our human ability to propose some reasoned answers to questions related to the meaning of life, our place in the universe and the plausibility of immortality. Long before Montaigne, ancient thinkers regarded the philosophical activity as the way to become accustomed to the idea of dying and make it part of our daily existence. After all, as Epicurus pointed out, ‘why should we be anxious about death when we will never encounter it; ...

The Philosophy of “Game of Thrones”

The global popularity of “Game of Thrones” can be partly ascribed to the many themes raised throughout the eight seasons of the American television series. Behind the first veil of medieval fantasy lurk the ghosts of Hobbes and Machiavelli and their depiction of political power as the deadliest game of chess imaginable. To conquer the ultimate position of power is one thing, but to exercise authority over a long period of time proves a tremendous challenge for the heroes of ...

Democracy and Mediocrity

Friedrich Nietzsche was particularly contemptuous of the mediocrity which, in his view, prevailed among his contemporaries. His philosophical ideal of individuals knowing themselves so thoroughly that they were able to soar above the rest of the human ‘herd’ has become offensive to our modern conception of democracy and equality. But what if democracy was inherently and inescapably a breeding ground for a type of feckless, navel-gazing individuals, wallowing in their self-confessed limitations while enjoying the benefits of a benevolent state? Nietzsche’s ...

It’s all in the detail

Mathematics, as you will know from Theory of Knowledge, is at the top of the tree of knowledge. It is self-referential - that is, its theorems do not need to be proven by reference to the real world, but instead by starting with other axioms and theorems. Of course, maths has many real-world applications, and if you are starting out on the new Applications and Interpretations course, then you will spend a lot of time solving real-word problems. Many of the ...

Need help with specific topics? Check these blogs

Over the past few years I have written blogs for IB students on a wide range of mathematics-related topics. Some of these blogs have covered specific areas of syllabus content where I know students can have difficulties. With many of you either at the start of your diploma course, of halfway through, this seems like a good moment to help you find them. Quadratic factorisation can cause some head-scratching, although if you are following the new Applications and Interpretation course you ...

Physics is a mathematical science!

This is a quick note for those students who are just starting the IB Physics Diploma Course.  For most students, they take the HL course because they really like the subject or it is a requirement for their ultimate application to university (a physics or engineering course). Students often take the SL course because they simply like the subject. I am not aware of any student that has ever taken the Physics Diploma Course because… they want an easy life! The ...

Newton and his 3rd Law

A quick comment about this law – arguably the most complex of the three laws. My experience is that teachers often present Newton’s Laws in the way the books normally state them. This is something along the lines of … Newton’s 1: An object will move in a straight line at constant speed unless acted on by an external force. Newton’s 2: If an external unbalanced force acts upon an object, the unbalanced force will produce a rate of change of momentum and ...

I think therefore I can analyse?

By Wednesday, August 28, 2019 No tags 0

The top three most asked questions of your English teachers: How many quotations should I use per paragraph? What’s the best structure for a comparative essay? What are the markers looking for in a conclusion? Well, the bad news is there are no definitive answers (we are not talking Mathematics here). No magic number for quotations per paragraph, but interwoven snippets into your own sentences are best for scoring higher marks in organisation and development of ideas. Aim for three to four. Please no chunks ...

Heatwaves

By Monday, August 26, 2019 No tags 0

Many parts of the Northern Hemisphere have experienced heatwaves over the last month. Gallargues-le-Mountueux recorded France’s highest ever temperature of 45.9°C, beating the existing record by 1.8°C. Cambridge recorded the highest temperature ever in the UK. In June, the summit Mount Blanc recorded a temperature of 7°C, whereas normally it would have been below 0°C. Records were broken across Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Spain. The impacts of heatwaves are often underestimated. Images of hurricanes and floods may have a greater impact, ...