Life Drawing: Is Nudity a Problem?

Does your school offer life-drawing? By this I mean do you, as a visual arts student, have the opportunity to spend time drawing and/or painting a naked human being who is posing so that you can make these artworks while he/she stands (or sits etc) in front of you? This opportunity seems not to be offered in many schools. Would you like to have this opportunity? In a recent IB workshop that I facilitated, a teacher asked the question “is nudity a problem?” He was ...

Existentialist Novels

The summer months are ideal for making forays into neglected intellectual territories. Existentialist novels are traditionally reduced to two major works: Sartre’s Nausea (1938), a rich study of a character in search of historical as well as ‘existential’ truth and Camus’ The Outsider (1942), whose non-hero finds himself tragically involved in a murder case. But what characterises an ‘existentialist novel’ if not the quest for fundamental answers to perennial questions? In this respect, all of Dostoevsky’s works fit this description and the ...

Advice for Successful Individual Oral Commentaries

At some point, sooner or later, whether you are a HL or SL student, you'll see that IOC coming toward you.  You'll be thinking such things as 'how am I going to get through this?' or 'what can I do to prepare?'  Your teachers will have offered you a good many tips, some of which you took on board and others that have slipped away over time–or weren't actually heard.  Teachers have diverse opinions about how best to do this, ...

A Potpourri of Starting Points

The last few months I have been running a lot of online training courses for teachers and also running some face to face training for teachers new to the IB. There is one amazing resource that I am going to share with you this month and it is all the starting points that teachers have identified could be used in their courses for devising practice or suggested to the students to be used for their final Collaborative Project. In the guide ...

The Return of the Beaver

The Eurasian beaver was hunted to extinction in the UK around 400 years ago, but two have now been reintroduced in the Forest of Dean as part of a trial to help mitigate flooding and improve biodiversity in the area. The Eurasian Beaver Source: Per Harald Olsen, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0), via Wikimedia Commons The villages of Lydbrook and Upper Lydbrook within Gloucestershire were badly flooded in 2012 and are particularly at risk due to their proximity to Greathough ...

What Do You Get Asked in University Interviews?

Some universities interview applicants. In the UK, the Oxford and Cambridge interviews are an important part of the application process, Imperial College and UCL tend to interview the majority of applicants. In the US, many Ivy League colleges also carry out interviews. But what should you expect, and how can you prepare? Interviewers stress that they are not testing knowledge, which would be unfair, given that applicants come from many different backgrounds and educational systems. The purpose, says Oxford, is to ...

Is It Finished Now?

This post is really for students who have just finished the IB, although those that are half way through would do well to ‘take note’. I have just finished remarks for Physics HL – I will be honest in saying that it feels a bit strange to be doing remarks so long after the actual exams – what is going on? Why would it take so long (four weeks) to decide that you are not happy and think there has been ...

Is It Finished Now?

I have three weeks left before school starts and I have not had a clear break yet – a few days here and there, but nothing where I can just relax and worry about, well … nothing at all. A few days ago I finished remarking another two Physics HL Paper 2 scripts and I was struck by the following questions: How many remarks are there going to be?  In physics, the papers rarely change that much. Most scripts have a ...

Vitamin Chemistry

Vitamins are taught in the biochemistry option. However, the aim of this blog post is not to cover the exact requirements of the IB course. Instead, my intention is to give the reader an overview of the topic. So, what do we mean by vitamins? Well, vitamins are organic molecules that are needed in small quantitates in order for an organism to remain healthy. If an organism is lacking in a particular vitamin it will develop a deficiency disease. Vitamins will vary ...

Devising Companies to Explore

When you start looking for a devising company that you want to explore, it helps to know a little bit about them and also have some videos of their work to watch. Over the last few weeks I have been gathering ideas from many teachers about companies they would like to explore with their students, so here are a few that you may want to look at yourself or as a class. I hope that some of these companies and ...