The things you can do and learn online for General Paper (and Project Work).

An interactive beginner’s guide to writing an argumentative essay is available at

Found via


I’ve had to take the IELTS test for my skilled migration to Australia. Thankfully, I did pretty well in the test on the first try (9 overall) and I’ve since been trying to help some people I know with their test preparation.

Today, I thought about creating another WordPress site, this time with an IELTS focus. But it looks like all the free WordPress domain names with “IELTS” in them are taken. So I’m thinking I’ll just use the General Paper site for it, since there’s quite a bit of overlap between the two assessments systems. Both the Singapore-Cambridge General Paper and IELTS have a group from the University of Cambridge as one of the examining authorities.

So, watch this space for some ideas preparing for your English Language assessments, while I have a think about it.

The animation that accompanies this talk given by Sir Ken Robinson is fun to watch.

But what about the validity of the claims? Crispin Weston presents an extensive critique.

Here’s a tool that could help you figure out your topic, create a thesis statement and generate an outline.


Have a go at using it and post about your experience in the comments.

Facts galore

You need facts to back up your ideas in writing. Plus, some facts are just plain interesting. I’ve just discovered Factbrowser. Go have a look and search for the statistics you need.

Cycling safety statistics

Cycling Oxford

Since I moved to Sydney, I’ve basically stopped cycling, barring a few rides, and only one of those on a road bike.

I found the following statistics and posted them on Facebook, but I thought maybe some of you might want to have a look and do some analysis of the figures as well. What do the figures mean? Which city/state/country is the safest?

London: Population 8M, 407 cyclist deaths and serious injuries 1st 9 months of 2011

Singapore: Population 5M, 500 cyclist casualties (including 15 fatalities) in 2011

NSW: Population 7M, 52 fatal pedestrian crashes, no separate category for cyclists among vehicles (?) at

Australia: 22M, 26 to 46 cyclist deaths per year, 2000 to 2005. “More meaningful Australian data on cycling crashes is difficult to access due the lack of exposure data for cycling, differences in police and hospital data records, lack of data retained by road traffic authorities and the fact that many cycling accidents occur off-road”

Some really well articulated pointers on how to generate solutions. For all of you doing Project Work. Also helps to give context for GP.

Innovation in Africa tips From Ethan Zuckerman's post 'Innovating from constraint': Innovation (often) comes from constraint (If you've got very few resources, you're forced to be very creative in using and reusing them.) Don't fight culture (If people cook by stirring their stews, they're not going to use a solar oven, no matter what you do to market it. Make them a better stove instead.) Embrace market mechanisms (Giving stuff away rarely works as well as selling it.) I … Read More

via Design in Africa


23 June is International Widow’s Day. It gives ‘special recognition to the plight of widows and their children in order to restore their human rights and alleviate poverty through empowerment’.

Read more about it here.

Part 1

Part 2

What would it be like to live in such a society? What problems do patriarchal societies have that they don’t? What unique problems do the Mosuo face because of their matriarchal society?

Would you like to have been born in such a society?


Read more about the video at

Food Waste

Stop wasting food!:

As I see it, waste is one of the largest threats to our food supply. I’m not alone there, as the recent State of the World 2011 report warned about waste. As hunger persists, reducing waste and improving (re)distribution are vital. And as the global population inches toward 7 billion, we need to be more efficient with what we grow to ensure that all are fed.

Food waste also has a significant environmental impact. Agriculture is a real resource hog. A massive amount of oil goes into growing, harvesting, processing, shipping and cooling our food.  At least 2% of all U.S. energy consumption goes to produce food that is thrown away. And agriculture represents about 80 percent of all water consumption.

To invest all of those resources in producing food that we then freely waste is a real shame. Yet, waste we do. We squander about 40 percent of our food. Our wasting is on the rise, as it has increased 50 percent since 1974.

And that waste has a double impact. In addition the aforementioned squandered resources, food that rots in a landfill emits methane, a greenhouse gas more than 20 times as potent at trapping heat. We’re aiding climate change through our trash cans.


Image from

Grey Areas

‘Gray can exist as gray only because there are the distinct alternatives of black and white. That you might find yourself at times in a situation in which you see no clear alternatives does not mean, objectively considered, that there are no clear alternatives. It simply means that you do not see them. Don’t project your subjective state of uncertainty upon the world at large and claim objective status for it.’

– D. Q. McInerny, Being Logical

Fun with Vocabulary
More educational activitites at

Social Media

Take these statistics with a pinch of salt – It’d be good to track down the sources at and evaluate their reliability, if you can find them…

Get your free podcasts from or search for ‘the critical thinker’ on iTunes if you use an iPod, Phone or Pad.

The podcasts are short enough for a 20-minute commute. I’ve heard the first couple of episodes, and it’s pretty good stuff.

The video version of these podcasts is available at

Quote of the day

‘Between 15% and 3o% of any population or group will have what’s known as high-range hypnotic susceptibility, which makes them inclined to look for outside answers, search for improvement assistance and be vulnerable to those giving them simple answers to what they’re striving for.’

– Roland Carlstdet, a clinical researcher and the chairman of the American Board of Sport Psychology, in a October 4 TIME article on the sports bracelet fad.

Quote of the day

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
— Theodore Roosevelt

Two Education Models

Which one is more like the one you’re accustomed to? Which one would you really prefer and why?

Fact of the day

Boil your kettle 17½ times to generate as much greenhouse gases as you would by sending one e-mail attachment of 4.7MB

– Matthew Yeager, person in charge of data storage for Computacenter, Europe’s largest IT infrastructure company, via the BBC