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Everyday Life, Benzyl Alcohol and the EE

In my experience, the biggest problem students have with EE’s is picking the right thing to investigate. Students will tell me they want to carry out an EE in chemistry and have no idea what they will investigate. Those that do have ideas quite often have ideas that are too simple or too difficult, never […] Find out more

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Too Much of a Good Thing?

We live in a world which seems to be obsessed with the idea of amassing knowledge. So much of our energy seems to be devoted to the production, acquisition and application of knowledge whatever it’s actual or intrinsic worth. Knowledge, in one form or another, appears to be the goal of much of human activity […] Find out more

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Collaboration? Huh! What is it Good For?

Do you have your students work collaboratively on art-making projects? In December 2015 I posted a blog about collaboration (To collaborate, or not to collaborate – that is the question!) But the issue has come up again, this time with some questions from teachers in a visual arts workshop I am running. My usual caveat […] Find out more

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A Cautionary Tale

A week or so ago I read a BBC blog post that I thought I should share on this blog.  Then a few days later I read the same story on Petapixel.com, a photography blog.  I have also found it on CNN.com,  Independent.ie, Metro.co.uk, and aplus.com. I’m sure there are more, but that’s enough to be […] Find out more

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The Writer, or the Speaker, the Voice, the Persona?

Over the years, all of us have struggled with the vexed question of ‘who is speaking’ in a poem or in a first person narrative, or in an autobiographical essay.  And of course it troubles our students as they read literature, often especially with poetry.  You all have your own ways of negotiating this issue. […] Find out more

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Philosophising in the Shadow of Trees

When gathering his students outside the Academy, did Plato urge them to sit in the shade of (already) ancestral olive trees or did he urge them to stand in-between the shadow of its imposing columns? Apart from the Buddha, longing for spiritual experience under a Bodhi tree, philosophers do not seem to lift their heads […] Find out more

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Dyes

I’ve just finished my summer reading book, Ken Follett’s novel World Without End. If you haven’t read it, I would thoroughly recommend it, although it is the second book of a trilogy (book 1 is called The Pillars of the Earth). The book I sent in the thirteenth century in the fictional city of Kingsbridge in […] Find out more

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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 […] Find out more

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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 […] Find out more

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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 […] Find out more

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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 […] Find out more

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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 […] Find out more

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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 […] Find out more

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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 […] Find out more

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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 […] Find out more

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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, […] Find out more

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Herbert Marcuse, Catalyst of the 60’s Protest Movements

Today, who remembers or even reads Herbert Marcuse (1898–1979), post-Marxist theoretician and last proponent of a society founded on total human emancipation and personal self-accomplishment? In The One Dimensional Man (1964), his scathing attack of the ‘ideology of advanced industrial society’, Marcuse deplored the narrowing down of modern consumers’ aspirations as ‘they recognise themselves in their […] Find out more

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If You’re Teaching Writing about Africa. . .

. . .you might find this wry commentary by Binyavanga Wainaina interesting.  This piece was published in 2009 and maybe we–writers and readers–are well beyond this kind of thinking.  And maybe not. I have found the essay useful in class to remind all of us how easy it is to fall into facile stereotypical thinking […] Find out more

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Putting the “Wow” into Magic Squares!

I’m sure that at some time in your life you’ve come across a magic square; usually a 4 x 4 table filled in with numbers where every row and column adds to give the same total. Here’s an example where the total is 34 and, as a bonus, the two leading diagonals add to give […] Find out more

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The Biochemistry Option

Proteins Proteins are a group of biomolecules (or biopolymers) that form enzymes and muscles in the body. They are the chief nitrogenous compounds found in living organisms but are still only approximately 15% nitrogen. The other elements they are comprised of is carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and a relatively small amount of sulphur. Proteins are made […] Find out more

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