Morality: Absolute or Relative?

In the modern study of Ethics one debate has dominated almost all the others, it is the question of whether morals are discovered or invented, in other words whether moral values exist independently of us, whether they are entirely a product of the human mind, or whether there can be a set of moral values universally accepted. In TOK, this is an issue which you will encounter in different forms and in different places. TOK requires us to address the ...

More puzzles

It's sometimes hard to define whether a puzzle can be classified as "mathematical" or not. They certainly are if they require mathematical techniques or knowledge to solve them. Today's puzzles don't, but I would still class them as mathematical: firstly, because they use numbers or geometrical space or logic; and secondly because they tickle the mathematical bits of your brain and so, in a very small way, hone your skills. 1. The two jugs Solve this in under 30 seconds - excellent. ...

Saudi women allowed to drive

Clerics in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, have long struggled to justify the kingdom’s decades-old ban on women driving. None could cite a verse in the Koran to justify barring women from driving a vehicle. On September 26th the Kingdom decided to lift the ban. The decision was welcomed by women and many men. It will give Saudi women a freedom that others take for granted. It will have economic benefits, too, sparing families the cost of hiring a (male) ...

The May 2017 Subject Report is now available

Most understandably, there was a small delay in the release of the subject report.  With all new assessments, there was much to report on and the examiners responsibly clearly wanted to provide clarity on the expectations of the assessments, and advice for future candidates.  A lot of work goes into these reports, and in IB history, with nearly 50,000 students writing 10 different exams and completing an internal assessment, there are a lot of variables to consider. (Please note that as of ...

Rights and Protest: 60 years since the Little Rock 9 entered Central High School

When I opened the paper today (yes, some of us still do that), there was a brief interview with some of the members of the Little Rock 9.  60 years ago today, 9 African-American teenagers entered Central High School, in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA, in a bid to begin the end of segregation in education.  If you look at the photo of the students that the Associated Press/Fox News used in its article, you see a group of pleasant, well-dressed young people on ...

Combining the creative with the critical

Often, IB teachers of the Group A Language and Lit courses regret that there is not much opportunity to do more creative work with their classes. But short exercises can be incorporated into our classes and many of us do that.  Here is one exercise which has not only produced some very lively original pieces with my students, but also raised their consciousness and refined their sense of how prose is constructed and how different effects are created. Obviously there ...

The 5 Nots (Comparative Study HL)

In September I posted some thoughts about the Comparative Study – Six of the Best (comparative study issues and advice) This month I’m continuing that theme but focusing on criterion F, so I’m only talking really to those of you who are taking HIGHER LEVEL Visual Arts. Criterion F deals with making connections to your own art-making practice. *In July I posted a blog about what NOT to do in your exhibition - “When NOT to…” (Visual Arts Exhibition No Nos) Now I am posting ...

Core concepts/principles

This post is primarily aimed at the IB1 crowd. Right about now you should be well along your Frustration Curve - it looks something like this over the first year:   Should be fairly self-explanatory but maybe a few words about where you are heading. Your first tests should be reasonably straightforward - let's face it, we are not rocket surgeons - and you should be able to deal with supply, demand, markets and elasticities with reasonable confidence. The initial shell-shock, and ...

Understanding Averages

You will have learnt that there are three types of average: the mean, the median, and the mode. Let's look at them closely - why we need all three, what you can do with them, and when to use each one. The Mean The mean is calculated by adding all the values and dividing by the number of values. Using sigma notation, where the sigma sign means "the sum of", we can write: $m = {{\sum x } \over n}$. The best way ...

Teaching optical isomers

I've just started to teach this topic to my students. It doesn't take too long but I do find it an enjoyable topic to teach. But how do you teach it? I always warn the students that the topic is jargon heavy - the words / phrases used in the topic such as  chiral, racemic, racemate, optically active are all pretty specific to optical isomers and are not used outside of the topic. In my teaching I have found that students understand the ...