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

This morning, at assembly, I got permission from Mr Dax Young to post his list of issues for 10 topics in GP. If you have more burning issues for these topics, please post them in your comments. I will edit them in if necessary.

(These are meant to give you an idea of what you need to know before you can attempt a decent discussion of the question. They do not include examples which you SHOULD know and which you SHOULD add to your discussion. THINK ABOUT THE ISSUE IN RELATION TO SINGAPORE!)

1. Environment

  • Recycling; reducing; reusing – what do these entail? Specific examples at the individual, societal, corporate, national and international level?
  • What ARE environmental problems that we are facing, and how have these come about? (natural, man-made, irresponsible individuals and corporations etc)
  • What has been done thus far (monetary/ international aid/ raising awareness etc), and what effects have we seen?
  • Why are these still existing? Why has aid not helped to alleviate the problems?
  • How is economic status (of individuals, countries, etc) relevant to the discussion?
  • What does environmental conservation entail? Should it be made compulsory? What are the consequences of regulation and enforcement?
  • Why should we conserve the environment?

2. Education

  • What is the philosophy behind the education system in your country? In other countries?
      • What are the latest developments / movements / trends / programmes etc?
  • What should schools teach? Purpose of education?
  • What does ‘education’ mean? What does it entail? Difference between formal and informal education?
  • Sharing of responsibilities between the school, parents, government, private organisations and other stakeholders
  • Student–centred / teacher-centred education
  • Education and socio-economic status – goes both ways!
  • Passion or skills – which is more important?

3. Gender

  • Are men and women intrinsically different? In what ways?
  • Different from ‘sex’!
  • Socialisation
  • Feminism
  • Feminist movements (evolution of; present status)
  • Men’s movement (evolution of; present status)
  • Is equality desirable? Always?
  • Equal in what ways/areas?
  • Effects of emancipation / liberal attitudes towards women
  • Invisible work
  • Do physical and biological differences account for differential treatment and rights, etc?
  • Social effects of women in the workforce
  • Blurring of gender roles

4. Crime and Punishment

  • What makes a criminal? Nature / nuture
  • Merits / demerits of second chances
  • Capital punishment
  • Corporal punishment
  • What is a/an enlightened / civilised society?
  • White / blue collar crime
  • The Internet and the opportunities it affords for committing and preventing / solving crimes
  • Socio-economic role in crime
  • Aims of punishment – retributive, rehabilitative, deterrent

5. Politics

  • The various political systems – democracy, communism, dictatorship, monarchy, etc. – and their comparative advantages
  • Reasons for, and the rise of, terrorism
  • Justify war / use of military / economic force against other nations
  • Socio – economic element in diplomatic relations
  • Aid from ‘rich’ countries
  • Poverty as a cause for terrorism
  • Political situation in Singapore?

6. Globalisation

  • Definition of G
  • Americanisation / Westernisation / ‘McDomination’
  • MNCs as global entities – G as affecting the sovereignty of countries
  • Notions of ‘Eas’t / ‘West’ / Cultural imperialism
  • Protectionism – taxes, censorship and other barriers – why?
  • Notion of global village – how, in what ways, for the best?
  • How has Singapore been affected by globalisation: politically, militarily, socially, economically
  • What are the (main) instruments by which G is spread?
  • Possession / control of these instruments – who has them?
  • Pattern in the level / speed of G in various countries?
  • Digital divide; income gap; rich – poor divide
  • Tradition and G – mutually exclusive?
  • Who does G benefit?

7. Science and Technology

  • Dehumanising effects of technology – sms, handphones, internet chat, etc
  • How has S&T changed sport / social relations /
  • Genetic engineering / stem cell research / cloning –
    • Definition + benefits / disadvantages
  • Importance of scientific and technological knowledge for an educated person
  • Space exploration
  • Science and religion – incompatible? Parallels?
  • Negative repercussions of S&T

8. Art

  • What constitute ‘the arts / the Arts’?
  • Function of the arts?
  • What makes a work of art? ‘High’ / ‘Low’ art
  • Censorship – reasons for, forms of, measure of a society’s maturity
  • How to foster a climate conducive to the promotion of the Arts?
  • Role of the arts in nation building?
  • Attitudes towards the arts? Why feared by the government?
  • Commercialisation of the arts

9. Family and Marriage

  • Definition + evolving definitions + alternative family structures
  • Extended / nuclear / single-parent / dual income /
  • Role in nation – building?
  • Role in socialisation
  • How F&M affected by
    • Evolving gender roles
    • Globalisation
    • Mass media
    • Govt / national needs and regulations
  • Evolving roles of a parent
  • Evolving make-up of children – changing attitudes and needs
  • Necessity of marriage?
  • Forces threatening the family

10. Mass Media

  • Forms of MM?
  • Link between MM and G?
  • Ownership of the MM – gatekeepers of info
  • Advertising
    • basis of advertising
    • forms of advertisements
    • how does advertising influence its audience – celebrity, authority, frequency, subliminal messages etc
    • issue of sponsorship and accompanying effect on content covered in the MM
    • issues in advertising related to gender, discrimination, corporatisation, cultural bias
  • Freedom of the press – needed? For what purpose?
  • Does MM challenge and stimulate? Or offer ‘comforting illusions’? Does it distract rather than inform?
  • MM as NECESSARILY mouthpiece of the government? Or other entities?
  • Purpose served by keeping an audience dulled / force fed / subservient / compliant? How does it achieve this?
  • News as constructed and necessarily biased; different POVs
  • How do the MM influence? PROOF? Evidence to show films books artworks music video games etc can move people to do things?

Comments on: "Mr Young has issues (long, but useful(?) post)" (2)

  1. How can we cover so much issues in such a short time ?

  2. Who’s ‘we’?
    Whoever ‘we’ refers to, lessons in school can only do that much. I think Cambridge recognises that students should be well prepared for at least a few (3 or 4) of the topics indicated. So it won’t be so bad if a student focussed on one topic in his or her time every term.
    My comment on globalisation as a topic: It’s a broad phenomenon and has bearings on issues in most if not all of the other topics. So maybe it doesn’t count as one topic, but an obligatory consideration for all of them.
    Any other suggestions or comments?

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