Month: March, 2014

The Terror of Group Work

One thing that I do not understand is why school has to be so full of group work. Working collaborately in a group is apparently supposed to improve some skills of compassion and collaboration.Bah, humbug!
 What makes me really upset is when group work is something final which is assessed. 
In a group one has to listen to other people’s ideas which in itself might not be a problem. However, group work turns into something very complicated if the people you are to work with are not on the same level as oneself or think in a very different way. When working alone it is so much easier to concentrate on the vision or idea one has and build on it. In a group you first have to convince your group that it is a good idea, then explain it to them and finally get them working on the same track. Or you need to take on someone else’s idea which is hard since you are not the person that came up with it. 
The worst with group works is if you happen to be paired up with someone you know quite well. It is impossible to be friends and group workers together if one is ambitious and the other is not. If you know the person to preserve the friendship there will be no telling off. People will be grumpy and there will be no end of trouble. 
When I was to have a group presentation with two of my closer friends it ended up in catastrophy. No one did any work apart from me and dragging that group along was terrible. I found most of the sources, everything was left to the last minute and we forgot to introduce our topic all together. Never again, is all I say. Terrible. 
In a group work that is graded you yourself want to make a good impression to the listeners, you want the presentation to be clear and structured. Trying to structure with unstructured people does not work! The responability lies on no one and no one can be in charge since everyone is supposed to collaborate. 
I am so glad that the group works are over. So, so glad (althought, that forgotten introduction bothers me immensly). 


IB Visual Arts & Schizofrenia

I love how completely schizofrenic the IB makes me feel. One day I feel like the complete and uttermost literary critic writing essays on literature in a way that appears to be almost innate and the next I am definitely the long gone science genious who knows everything about genetics. Occasionally I am The Philosopher deep in thought. This past week I have been The Most Aesthetic Esthete of them all. 
Every free and awake moment I have spent in the art room among dead brushes and blunt pencils. Me and the by acrylic paint blocked up sink have definitely bonded and I now know at what times to avoid the art room because of non-IB students. Me and my wishy-washy cafeteria coffee have triggered each other in beautiful collaboration. 
Every night when I come home the artistery have continued. With my easel infront of the window and the primary colours of life I have created a self-portrait. I have read books about Renaissance, Rembrandt, Rousseau and really tried to take in all the beautiful pictures from my book about watercolour. 
I have gone to bed way too late every night and by mistake tried to clean my brush in the coffee cup (did not work)(would not advice to do so). 
I have even dressed more artistically this last week to really ‘get into the mode’. More colours and more black. Red lips and messy hair. Black, long, flowy coats and black proper shoes. I love it. 
I don’t have that much left now until I am finished (FINISHED?!) with the art course all together. Some IWB writing and some painting here and there but after that: finished. This means that only 5 IB subjects will have to be on my mind until finals. All I have to do now is meet this deadline. Dead line. I am working under a very tightly pressed schedule but it feel a bit as if I am in the TV show Work of Art which makes it fun. 

However, I won’t let the esthete in me wither and die. It is here and it is here to stay. 

Plato and the Socratic Method

I really like reading Plato. 

First time I read him I was fifteen years old and had just started studying philosophy. I thought him interesting and nice to read but a little tricky perhaps. Now, yesterday, I tried reading The Republic once again and I found it so easy. It is nice to know that my studies have payed off. Compared to Kant or Mill reading Plato is a piece of cake. 

I think that the way in which Plato chose to write his philosophy is really interesting. Plato – the failed playwright – wrote it all as a play. It is all based on dialog. Socrates is the main character and what he does in the play is simply to outline some theories and ask others about it. This is where we reach the Socratic Method. Oh, I like the Socratic Method. 

The Socratic Method is basically a way of discussion where questions are being asked and answered. It is a form of questioning meant to evoke critical thinking and such. I’ll give you and example. Here is Socrates when he is outlining the Allegory of the cave:

“Imagine people living in a cavernous cell down under the ground; at the far end of the cave, a long way off, there’s an entrance open to the outside world. They have been there since childhood, with their legs and necks tied up in a way which keeps them in one place and allows them to look only straight ahead, but not turn their heads. There’s a firelight burning a long way further up the cave behind them, and up the slope between the fire and the prisoners there’s a road, beside which you should imagine a low wall has been built (…) Imagine also that there are people on the outer side of this wall who are carrying all sorts of artefacts. These artefacts (…) stick out over the wall; and as you’d expect, some of the people talk as they carry these objects along, while others are silent”. 

Socrates (Plato) then goes on to ask Glaucon a number of things about what he just said:

“‘They’re no different from us,’ I said. ‘I mean, in the first place, do you not think they’d see anything of themselves and one another except the shadows cast by the fire on to the cave wall directly opposite them?’
‘Of course not,’ he said. ‘They’re forced to spend their lives without moving their heads.’
‘And what about the objects which were being carried along? Won’t they only see their shadows as well?’
‘Now, suppose they were able to talk to one another: don’t you think they’d assume that their words applied to what they saw passing by in front of them?’
‘They couldn’t think otherwise.’
‘And what of sound echoed off the prison wall opposite them? When any of the passers-by spoke, don’t you think they’d be bound to assume that the sound came from a passing shadow?’
‘I’m absolutely certain of it,’ he said.”

And so it continues. Do you see what I mean? Is this not an intriguing way of discussing. Clearly Socrates has already thought out all he wants to say and is attempting to guide Glaucon the right direction but I think this is a nice way of doing so. Socrates is not outlining his theory in a bombastic manner saying he is absolutely right but is rather subtly questioning Glaucon through asking him questions and making him think for him self. I think this a good way to avoid the defence mechanism which usually sets in when one tries to tell someone that they are wrong. 

However, I am not entirely sure of how good this method actually is considering that Socrates himseld was executed from walking around asking fellow Athenians about their opinion and suggesting things one simply should not suggest (like that there are no Gods – what on Earth was dear Soccy thinking about saying thath?!?!?). 

My advice: Use the Socratic method in a careful and humble way. 


(the picture I borrowed from here: )

Feels like they’re mocking me

Hold on, we’re halfway there!
I have “sat through” seven out of twelwe mock exams this past week. That makes a total of 12 hours. I have spent half a day in one room writing essays. My finger tip is slowly changing its form and going through some kind of weird metamorphism. I think one if the things I’ll might have to practice before doing my real exams is the pencil holding teqnique. It is a little … uncomfortable at the moment.

I have so far written two essays in Swedish, one being a literary analysis of an excerpt from some book and the other answering a question about whether good novels should contain “surprising elements” or not. They were alright I beleive. Furthermore I have written six essays in philosophy: 1 about John Stuart Mill and paternalistic interference, 1 about whether gender equality is important for democracies to work, 1 about whether art is purely built on aesthetic experience or if morality and political issues might have something to do with it, 1 on Marx and Sartre which compares and evaluates their view on to what extent human being are “limited” by their material circumstances, and one as a response to a text saying that “narrow arguments” (built on premises and conclusions) are not the best way to convince others about your ideas. The philosophy exams made me so confused. 

I have also written one test in biology dealing with the two options in our course, evolution and neurobiology/behaviour and an essay in English comparing two texts reviewing the Imperial War Museum in London. 

As you might understand this has kept me rather busy during the week. Most of my spare time goes to studying or I have been in the art room fiddling around with my exhibition pieces. 

Mock exams, hey. What do I think about them? What do I think about this past week?
My emotions are a little mixed. Parts of me have thought this week to be terrible at the same time as other parts have thought it to actually be quite fun. I do like the exam situation a bit. It is a massive  discharge to walk into the exam room and simply cram all the knowledge you have into one essay and having to do this within a quite tight time limit. And it is a nice feeling to know that it is “only” the mock exams and not the real deal which means that if one would mess up it is not as big a problem as it could have been. 

Next week will offer six and a half hours of tests. I will have two in biology, one in English and two in maths. Maths is my worst subject and the time limit for those tests are so harsh that I have never been able to finish all the questions. 

So maths is what I have to practice the mosts. Now you know what I will do for the rest of the weekend. 

Wish me luck and I might be back around thursday to complain about something else.