The Christmas break is a unique opportunity for teachers to recharge their intellectual batteries and perhaps dedicate some free time to exploring areas of personal interest in more depth. There is no doubt that a teacher showing enthusiasm for his subject is a marvellous asset for his students. Better still, a teacher who happens to be a specialist in one particular area of the syllabus can inspire and motivate them in their choice and handling of stimulus material for the Internal Assessment. It is, after all, of paramount importance that candidates should not waver from the strict requirements of this exercise but strike the right balance between using an appropriate stimulus and focusing on one specific philosophical issue.

First of all, the description of the chosen stimulus must be limited to under 200 words and not be overused or overdeveloped in the core of the essay, to the detriment of the expected philosophical analysis under review. More importantly, the candidate’s personal response must be substantiated by clear references to a maximum of two to three philosophers or philosophical theories, one of them, described, analysed and evaluated in more detail.

In conclusion, right from the very beginning of the IB course, teachers are well advised to expose their students to a range of contemporary issues and encourage them to compare the different and differing opinions of major thinkers such as John Singer on life issues and Michael Sandel on principles of Justice. The Christmas holidays are a good time to immerse oneself in contemporary philosophical debates to be discussed and evaluated with students in the new term.