Ten more things to keep a snowbound pupil occupied
Monday, 21 January 2013
1. Read a newspaper editorial (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/uk-edition for examples), and the newspaper coverage of the same story. To what extent does one relate fact without opinion, and the other give opinions without facts?
2. Demonstrate (to yourself, for the intellectual pleasure of it) why Pascal’s triangle is composed of lines which are powers of 11. (The top line is 110, the next is 111, the third is 112 etc).
3. Find 10 puns with which you could make light-hearted comment on a supermarket including horsemeat in their processed meat products. (“They are having a ‘mare with their burgers” etc). Alternatively, can you make a case FOR including horsemeat in processed meat products? (In general, arguing the case for something you disagree with is substantially more difficult than presenting your own views).
4. Take an article from a respected publication (The Economist, The New Scientist etc), and highlight in different colours phrases or sentences which are historical narrative, those which are impartial analysis, and those which demonstrate (partial) evaluation and judgement. What do you learn about the intention of the writer? Now compare the balance of these contents with a piece of your own writing - what does this teach you?
5. Work out which scientific equation is most worthy of inclusion in the National Curriculum – ie should be taught to all young people. Why that one?
6. From your study of history, find a time when statesmen or other important decision makers have demonstrated that they have learned from history, and find five pieces of evidence to support that.
7. Of all the books you have ever read, choose one that you would most highly recommend to your son/daughter when they are exactly the same age as you. Write the title and reasons on a piece of paper, put it in an envelope and keep it in a safe place.
8. Find a work of art (painting, music, performance art) which makes your spirits soar, and which you would be prepared to contemplate every day for a year. Write down why in a digital diary entry for yourself in 12 months time, so you can see how you have changed next year.
9. Consider the attribute of a plant or animal which you consider to me most astonishing in its capability. Compare, in writing, this ‘achievement’ of the natural world with what you consider to be the most significant achievement of mankind. Which do you consider greater?
10. Work out the most significant and inspiring lesson you have had at school so far this year which has had no relevance to any examined courses you are currently studying. Write to that teacher to thank them for that lesson, saying why it affected you so positively.
There is no guarantee that any of these will make you perform better in your exams, but they will contribute to increasing your intellectual capabilities.