Five Years of the process portfolio

We have now had FIVE full years of the ‘new’ visual arts course. It was started in 2014, with first examinations in 2016, so for those of us who have been riding this particular horse from the start, the annual hurdles (aka annual examination sessions) should be getting less daunting and more familiar. Even if the first time round your students’ results were not what you expected, hopefully by now it’s getting easier. I’ve devoted recent blogs to aspects of the ...

Optical Illusions

There are many types of optical illusion but, in every case, the brain is being fooled by what the eyes see. In a short blog such as this I can only show a small set of examples from a limited number of categories but, if you are as fascinated by these as I am, a short web search will reveal countless more. It's also the case that some optical illusions can only be created using paper, and won't work on-screen. Illusory ...

Cindy Sherman

Wow! I have just seen the Cindy Sherman Retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery, London. Click the link for a quick video of the works from the exhibition. “This major new retrospective explores the development of Sherman’s work from the mid-1970s to the present day, and features around 150 works from international public and private collections as well as new work never before displayed in a public gallery. Focusing on the artist’s manipulation of her own appearance and her deployment of material derived ...

Gaston Bachelard. Poetic Philosopher

Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962) is an unfairly neglected thinker who succeeded in carving himself a niche in the rich tradition of French philosophy of science. Trained as a physics and chemistry high school teacher, Bachelard took an early interest in epistemology at a time when Einstein was publicising both his theories of relativity and propounding a radically new conception of the interaction between space and time. Bachelard’s project was not to get rid of a philosophical approach of science but, on the ...

Oxbridge or not Oxbridge?

Many schools will be expecting students to be thinking about university applications after this summer break, and most of those decisions need to be decided now, at least as a first step. This post considers the idea of a student possibly applying to Oxford or Cambridge (jointly referred to as ‘Oxbridge’). If you are thinking about applying to Oxbridge, you need to consider the following questions: What are your marks like for (I)GCSE / MYP and what are your average marks like ...

Oxbridge or not Oxbridge?

A quick comment about students that might have Oxbridge aspirations. In many schools, there is a crazy idea that students should not be given homework in the holiday breaks. While it is obvious that students need a break, it is also obvious that they like success at anything they do. In fact this feeling is stronger than that… if you ask students what is their favourite subject, they will often choose the subject they get the best marks in. This is ...

Being human: how the drama genre means everything

"Meanwhile I want to go on talking to you as freely and intimately about what we live for and die for as if I knew you better than anyone else whom you know." English teachers want to open your eyes to what it means to be human and so do playwrights. Nowhere is the interaction between text, audience and purpose more immediate than the theatre. During your two years you may well be studying drama and, I recommend seeing any live theatre. The house lights down, ...

Conquering Everest

In recent weeks, there has been a number of concerns raised about the number of climbers on Mount Everest, and the number of deaths, as well as the pollution of the environment by discarded equipment and the number of dead bodies left on the mountain. Everest is an extreme environment, but is proving increasingly popular for tourists. Once the preserve of elite climbers, now it is becoming the focus for many inexperienced climbers who want a thrill, and can afford ...

Combating the globalisation of waste management in south-east Asia

For a long-time, south-east Asia and other parts of West Africa have accepted waste from the world’s rich nations and recycled, reused or dumped it in their own environment. Even today, there are containers full of unwanted waste sitting in. However, these countries are increasing against the dumping of rich nations’ waste in emerging economies (i.e. their own. Even the UN has called for a control on global plastic dumping in poorer countries (https://www.no-burn.org/brscop). "Collectors' Work" by Ikhlasul Amal is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0  In ...

Helping yourself to a prawn off your boss’s plate

Having recently started teaching Theory of Knowledge for the first time this academic year, the links between Language A and TOK are even clearer. Recently while working through the language way of knowing, the class of year 1 diploma students and I watched RSA Animate’s 2011 video essay ‘Language as a window into human nature’ with “renowned experimental psychologist Steven Pinker”. In it, he details a useful way of students could categorise verbal communication. Quoting anthropologist Alan Fiske, there are ...