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The Causation Conundrum – Knowing Why.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle stated that one cannot claim to have proper knowledge of anything until one has grasped the cause of it. Whether something exists, happens or changes it is assumed that it is as the result of some cause external or internal to it. The why without which nothing could be or happen. […] Find out more

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Theatre of Place

The last couple of weeks I have been working with students in different parts of the world using a place as a starting point for work. This has been an interesting journey, as we have tried out many things to help us really get inside the place, the ghosts that passed through it one time […] Find out more

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Hartmut Rosa and the Concept of ‘Resonance’

In a technological world driven by intense productivity and relentless competition, individuals are caught between the imperative to be more efficient ‘performers’ and the natural need to slow down, recuperate and revive themselves. Heir to the Frankfurt School for Social research, the German philosopher and sociologist Hartmut Rosa offers a new approach of twenty-first life […] Find out more

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I Know about Assessment…But What’s ‘Best Fit’?

Assessment At the time of writing this, I’m moderating some work uploaded for the IA (visual arts exhibition) component for the November examination session, which means spending a lot of time scrutinizing artworks on multiple large screen monitors and also scrutinizing the words of the visual arts assessment descriptors (which I probably know by heart […] Find out more

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Essays about Character: Analysis, Not Re-description

In your earlier years, writing about characters by re-describing them in your own words was quite acceptable, but as an IB diploma student that won’t work.  First, you need to change your thinking from ‘character’ to ‘characterization.’ This last is the kind of critical thinking you need to engage in: ‘how does the writer create […] Find out more

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Digital Theatre

Following up on last month’s post about the suggested option, ‘Literature and Film,’ which focuses on adaptations from text to film, here’s another suggestion for those teaching plays in far-flung places where live theatre is not a matter of easy access. Again, this allows individual students to view the materials on their own time, and […] Find out more

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Being Knowledgeable

One of the ten attributes of the ideal learner in the IB Learner Profile is to be knowledgeable. Maybe of all of them this is the one which seems most clearly to connect to TOK, although many would argue that all attributes have a special connection with TOK or even that it is in and […] Find out more

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Moral Machines

Have you seen this video? You’ll find it on this page http://moralmachine.mit.edu/ at the MIT website, ‘A platform for gathering a human perspective on moral decisions made by machine intelligence, such as self-driving cars. We show you moral dilemmas, where a driverless car must choose the lesser of two evils, such as killing two passengers or five […] Find out more

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What Price Freedom of Expression?

It would be stretching things to call me a rebel, or subversive, or even a dissident, but I have recently had my words censored! Well, OK, maybe not ‘my’ words exactly, but the words of a student in two pages of a book I co-authored together with S. Poppy and J. Paterson, The Visual Arts […] Find out more

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How Philosophy Can Save Your Love Life

Rare are the books which combine light-touched erudition and insightful confessions. John Kagg’s ‘American Philosophy’ certainly succeeds on both accounts. This title may first appear misleading for an early candid exploration into a failed marriage if the author-narrator didn’t prove to be a professional researcher of the origins of this strange outgrowth of the Western […] Find out more

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Literature and Film

Currently, ‘Literature and Film’ is one of the most popular ‘suggested options’ under Part 4: Options (a bit confusing, to say the least, though it all shakes out as ‘Free Choice’, really). There are a lot of great ideas coming from creative classrooms and here are a few from workshop participants which you might not […] Find out more

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The Avogadro Project

This sounds like some sort of clandestine secret government project I think but in fact, it is something far more interesting! The Avogadro projects earliest rumblings began in the 1990’s and were linked in with defining the kilogram. Its results were published in January 2011 and updated in 2015. The ultimate aim of the project […] Find out more

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Humor and Irony, Elusive Terms

In my own classroom, we often struggle with clarifying what constitutes humor in writing, how it is to be handled critically and how to write successfully about it. One (of many) complementary problems is being sure what we mean by irony.   These terms have long been a problem in the history of criticism and separating […] Find out more

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The Visual Arts Exhibition: Is Contemporary Art Penalized?

Conceptual Qualities? I was recently in conversation with the DP Visual Arts Chief Examiner, Subject Manager and Principal Examiner for Exhibition SL. The Subject Manager was interested in particular in our interpretation of the ‘Conceptual Qualities’ Exhibition criterion. A teacher had suggested that students who focused on styles and formats of contemporary art in their […] Find out more

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Nobel Prize in Chemistry and HL Biochemistry

This years Nobel prize in chemistry has been awarded to three researchers, Frances Arnold, George Smith and Gregory Winter for their work on enzyme research. Their work uses a technique called ‘directed evolution’ to create new enzymes. It does also tie in nicely with some of the subject material covered in the HL biochemistry option. […] Find out more

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Philosophers and Politics

Disillusioned by his failed mission to turn the Sicilian tyrant Dionysius II into a Philosopher-King, Plato immortalised, in the Allegory of the Ship, the isolation of the philosopher in a world plagued by false ideas and unprincipled politicians. His mentor Socrates kept away from political intrigues to concentrate on his ‘daemon’ (or ‘spirit’) and how […] Find out more

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Possible EE / IA project

I’ve just stumbled upon a great article on the BBC website. The article can be found here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-45398434 The article is about a group of plants that have evolved to take up toxic metal ions into their systems. The metals in question are nickel and zinc and usually, these ions would be toxic to plants, […] Find out more

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New Art Teacher? 5 Visual Arts Starting Points!

It’s September and in art rooms all over the world DP visual arts teachers are starting to teach this two year course. I recently received an email from an old friend who is now Associate Head of School at an IB school in North America. He wrote: ‘We have an extremely talented art teacher who […] Find out more

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Can Nothingness Be Defined?

Nothingness is a slippery philosophical concept which despite its apparent immateriality has always intrigued philosophers, theologians and spiritualists of all cultures. Western Philosophy has its roots in Greek thinking and its inherent belief in ‘Being’. In Plato’s case, his entire philosophical system rests on a priori certainty of the ‘existence’ of Pure Ideas. How could […] Find out more

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Energy Levels

I’ve just finished teaching this topic to my students. I always find it an interesting topic to teach as the ideas used are so different to those you are probably taught prior to IB. Just when you were happy with the idea that atoms have electrons in shells you suddenly get told that this is […] Find out more

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