COHERENCE? (‘Here is your theme. Stick to it for the next two years’)

Reconsider the theme: is it always a bad idea? There are many things wrong with these two sentences, as uttered by a visual arts teacher to one of his students. First of all, you don’t need to have a ‘theme’. Second, if you – the student – want a theme, it should NOT be selected and ‘enforced’ by your teacher. I've been told that some teachers give their students a 'theme' that has to be followed for two years. If ...

Cyclone Idai

Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe in March 2019 affecting up to 2.6 million people. In Mozambique, some 1.85 million people have been affected and in Malawi around 900,000. Around 130,000 people have been displaced in Mozambique, and around 90,0000 in Malawi. The final toll of the cyclone will not be known for many months, perhaps ever. This was the worst cyclone to affect the area since February 2000 when the region was affected by three cyclone in just ...

Work until You’re Muscle-bound!

This is probably the most nervous time of the 2 years for the IBDP students. There is the fear that they will get crushed by the upcoming exams. And the exams come very quickly and really on top of each other. My experience of talking to students through this period, is that they keep working, possibly harder than they have ever worked, and they are all worried about how it will go. And then there is the ‘thing’ we do not ...

Some wise advice about commentary?

At least from my point of view, what Robert Scholes had to say about close reading contains some good reminders. I think we all recognize the New Critical roots of the these IB assessments, both oral and written. And though I suspect not too many of us deliver ‘the’ reading of texts, the temptation does exist and we can actualize that in various ways. I especially like his reminder about ‘codification.’** Scholes speaks of the kind of textual study ...

Hegel on Freedom

Hegel’s conception of freedom is central to his Introduction to the Philosophy of History and his Phenomenology of Spirit (1807) in which it is described as one of its most immediately perceived properties. Yet, it is only through philosophy as speculative knowledge that freedom can fulfil itself. For Hegel, universal history is the slow progress of its understanding and advent through three stages: the earliest one is to be found in Antiquity and is epitomised by the autocratic power of ...

Simple Organic Lab Work

I love organic chemistry but am well aware that this view of things is not held by all teachers and students! However, I feel I teach the subject well, but when it comes to lab work I do not do so well and this is something I need to work on. Today’s blog post aims to help me (and you) overcome this fear by giving you an idea for a simple lab to carry out (once you have the necessary reagents ...

The Search for Authenticity

The term ‘authentic’ derives from the Greek ‘autos’ or self and ‘hentes’, originally meaning ‘worker’ and by extension ‘agent’. The notion of authenticity is alien to ancient philosophers for whom only the free man as opposed to slaves, women and children, is capable of a full rational judgement, dictated by a code of honour or informed by moral principles such as the ones developed by Aristotle in his ‘Ethics’. Augustine introduced a spiritual dimension to the self which emphasised the ...

End Game

If you are an IB2 student who sits their exams in the May exam session, as the month of March, it comes to an end your thoughts are probably on revision. If your teachers have yet to finish the course, they will probably be almost there. If they haven’t yet finished, don’t let this from stopping you from carrying out some revision! If you didn’t know it, the IB Chemistry exam this year is on Wednesday 22nd May (Papers 1 ...

Peter Pan’s Shadow

Source: Wikimedia Commons The last few weeks I have been researching a range of starting points to use at a theatre festival to inspire original pieces of theatre. The key theme I have been looking at is SHADOWS. For this blog I thought you would find it enriching to see what types of stories, music and poems I found. Hopefully some will inspire you, and they will be used as starting points in your own devising work. To start with I ...

Process Portfolio (PP) Questions

8 PP questions from new teachers Here are some Process Portfolio questions I have been asked in recent visual arts workshops. I’m posting them here on the visual arts blog because I suspect that some teachers may also be wondering about some of the issues raised. I have a doubt and want to know if the single art teacher for Visual Arts must be perfect in all the skills mentioned in the art-making forms table. I am not technology savvy ...