Friday, December 8, 2017

Big questions in Philosophy

Modern take on 'The Thinker"
...found on pinterest!
I've found this to be an interesting week taking a closer look at Philosophy -- the ideas and people that have influenced Western and global trends in philosophy, the nature of philosophic thought, and your own questions about living one's life, about common sense and logic, about perspective, happiness, and self-knowledge. We're not done with the in-class lessons, ye, but now would be a good time to identify some research projects for your unit project. Almost anything within the loose boundaries of "Philosophy" is fair game, but it should centre around a driving question -- something open-ended and meaningful to you. Not too vague and not too specific -- a question that will lead you into inquiry. We'll brainstorm a few, but you have already generated many examples. Your response should involve taking your own question seriously and considering how other people (past or present) have tried to answer it. Strategic use of quotes will be important. Your own conclusion might agree or disagree with the so-called experts, but will at least acknowledge how you arrived at your response. The second aspect to this project is to think about a creative way to express your findings. Some writing is expected, but also a response project, something that physically shows your thinking, whether as a metaphor or direct representation. We may refine this project as we work on it, but that's a start. When you are ready, please share your driving questions in the blog comment section.
Sample questions (from you):
Why do good things happen to bad people?
Are there such things as selfless deeds? Do people do nice things only to benefit themselves?
Nature vs nurture - how does upbringing affect how people live?
Is human nature good or bad? Why are some people so evil (stinky)?
Why are we here/what is our purpose/what is the meaning of life?
Is happiness the most important thing
Why do we dream? What are dream for?
What makes a person strong?
Is the meaning of life the same for animals as humans?
Is love at first sight possible? What is love?
Is there life after death (or before birth)? What happens when we die?
What is a job for? Do we need careers to be fulfilled?
What came first, chicken or egg? (could be about the role of science in our understanding of life)
How did religions come about? What purpose or function to they fulfill? Is God real?
Why are there different languages? Is a universal language possible?
Why are there different currencies? Is a world economy or government possible?
Why do we have to pay for university? Should access to education be universal?
Should we be more connected to nature?
Is there life on other planets, if so when do we meet and what should we say?
Why are we attracted to things that we know are bad for us?
Looking for ideas? Have a surf through some of the videos tagged "Philosophy" at TED

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Protected Places, and Places in Need of Protection

After watching this amazing TED talk on the scientific, aesthetic, and ecological value of the Redwoods, I hope you are curious about other places near and far that have achieved some kind of protected status or are in need of protection. Spend some time with the WHEN and WHERE -- find some places that you can use to further your thinking and read (or view) a bit about them. Think about WHY certain places need protection, and protection from WHAT? Think about HOW places these sensitive or important places should be conserved and managed, and about what kind of human uses should be permitted or even encouraged in these areas. What are the threats to these places? How are these threats handled? What kinds of laws or practices have been used to protect these places, or should be used for places that are not yet protected?

Start by finding THREE possible places that would work as case studies. At least one should be protected already in some significant or legal manner, and at least one should be an area that needs better protection.  One of the sites should be local (in British Columbia, better yet in the Central Interior). List them in a blog comment below -- with the briefest of descriptions. As you might guess, you will be choosing one of your three to study further as a case study.

Here is an example of an area that already has special protection, but has ongoing challenges that threaten its unique characteristics:

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

People who stayed in Chernobyl

Documentary on Cherbobyl:

The Babushkas of Chernobyl - trailer:

Why stay in Chernobyl? Because it's home.:

Your reaction? We'll discuss some follow-on questions in class. What do you think about what you saw and learned?

Friday, November 10, 2017

Special Places

Special Places -- what makes them "work?" After we spent some time looking at how people interact with the spaces at D.P. Todd, it might be nice to consider places that are special to you.

We start with an unusual word: topophilia.
"The word 'topophilia' is a neologism, useful in that it can be defined broadly to include all of the human being's affective ties with the material environment. These differ greatly in intensity, subtlety, and mode of expression. The response to environment may be primarily aesthetic: it may vary from the fleeting pleasure one gets from a view to the equally fleeting but far more intense sense of beauty that is suddenly revealed. The response may be tactile, a delight in the feel of air, water, earth. More permanent and less easy to express are the feelings that one has toward a place because it is home, the locus of memories, and the means of gaining a livelihood" - Yi-Fu Tuan, Topophila, p. 93
Affective ties with the material environment... in other words, topophilia means the love of place. This is an important idea that impacts the way humans interact with the world. Special places make us more connected to ourselves, other people, and the environment. This will be the subject of a short writing assignment.

What is a place that you love? A special area in nature that brings back strong memories, a place you love to visit because of the things that have happened there. Maybe it's a built-up space, like the home of a grandparent or an amazing restaurant? Maybe it's a natural location like a beach, mountain vista, bike trail, or fishing spot. Or in between, like a cabin. Maybe you'd like to write about your earliest experience with a natural world, a powerful memory in nature. What is the inventory of this location -- the topography, components, objects, characteristics? What do your senses remember? Consider the visually elements, but also smells, textures, and sounds. What is the story of this place... what is your history with it?  Think about this and write leave a comment below with your response. Start with a word document -- do your writing there (no more than one page) and then copy/paste into a blog comment here. You can also submit a hard copy if there is some reason you do not want your writing piece online.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Biosphere Reserves

This week we learned about the Biospehere Reserve at Clayoquot Sound. The video we watched is up on the Knowledge Network website until Dec 5 -- Episode 2. What are biosphere reserves? What are they not? Why would an area seek the this designation. Choice another existing biosphere reserve (in Canada or elsewhere) and start out by answering those questions. Then, do some writing (or use a graphic organizer) to explore what led to the creation of that biosphere reserve and what resulted.  This is about Cause and Consequence.  You may find that you weave other concepts into your writing such as significance, close examination of evidence, continuity & change (e.g. the patterns that are in place vs new ideas), perspective-taking, and ethical dimensions connected to the issues or challenges faced by the biosphere reserve.  This is an open-ended task -- learn about a biosphere reserve and develop questions and ideas about "WHY."  You are encouraged to use an 11"x17" paper to record your inquiry. Pics/maps welcome.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Prince George Study

Prince George, 1953, from the Wally West Collection
We have a great little collection of local history resources in our D.P. Todd library. Take a look through and find a topic that you find interesting. Maybe it relates to where your street name came from (and how most streets in town are named), or where the old ski jump used to be (and what that says about early recreational opportunities), or how the city developed as separate communities before becoming Prince George (and why this was controversial). Perhaps you can look at the transfer of lands that resulted in the Grand Trunk Pacific taking over the Aboriginal Reserve in what is now downtown Prince George, or how most of the early education in the area took place in one-rooms schoolhouses, or the process that led to the establishment of UNBC.

After you'd had a look and found a topic, develop an inquiry question that the resources can help answer. Try to find additional sources, print or online, to support your inquiry. Refer back to your "What is Social Studies" document that outline historical and geographic thinking. Use the 6 concepts to help develop your inquiry.  Is there anything significant about your topic? What use can you make of evidence and how reliable is it? Has the situation you're looking at changed over the years or remained the same? What led to this situation, and what resulted?  What are some varying perspectives on this topic from the time period? What are some ways we judge the situation now -- has the perspective changed with time.

Finish up with a two-part response:
  1. Record your inquiry question here as a comment on the blog post.
  2. Prepare your response to you inquiry question (including leading questions based on the 6 thinking concepts) as a "one pager" to hand in.  Include references and a small photo or image if you like. The format can be any way you like -- written, web, boxes of info that relate to the 6 concepts, a visual representation, even a sculpture or constructed art piece.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Human Experience at D.P. Todd

Task: go out and take some photos that relate to the human experience at D.P. Todd Secondary. Make a note of where they are taken on a map of the school. You can develop your own criteria for "human experience," but here are some ones we developed together in class:
  • safety features & processes
  • natural light vs artificial light
  • meetings places
  • high traffic areas
  • places to eat
  • food service
  • programs in operation
  • sound and music
  • state of technology
  • use of tables and seating
  • state of repair & equipment
  • accessibility (e.g. inclusive of disabilities)
  • private vs public places
  • connection to nature
  • doorway & entrance experience
  • noise levels & places to make noise
  • evidence of celebration
  • temperature or climate control
  • communication systems
  • fun/happy vs sad/depressing
  • evidence of history/tradition
  • student-centered creations

Friday, January 6, 2017

TED Talks on Sustainability

Geography 12 in-class assignment

As we explore topics related to resource ethics, sustainable development, and human interaction with the environment it is useful to turn to what others have to say. To do that, TED is a great start.

Check out the TED Talks on the topic of Sustainability:

As of this posting, there are four playlists with 10-14 videos in each one.  Take a look at all of the titles within each playlist before you commit to watching any of them.

Select two video talks to watch and think about. If you start watching one and you don't get it or it repulses you, choose another right away.

After each of the two talks, answer the following questions/prompts. Use a word file to record your response.  You can submit this word file to your teacher, or you can paste your responses into a comment to this post -- either option is fine.  Please complete this assignment within the allotted time.

  1. TED talk title, speaker, and date.
  2. Very brief summary of what was presented (e.g. 2-3 sentences).
  3. What is significant or important about the topic/content of the talk?
  4. What evidence does the speaker use to make their argument or bring their points across? Do you think the talk would be seen as accurate by other people in this field of study?
  5. What do you understand about the "problem" after watching the talk (e.g. cause and effect, historical or geographic patterns, solutions, consequences, etc.)
  6. What do you think about the speaker's perspective? Do they represent a broad base of opinions, a particular set of biases, or a narrow perspective based on their experience or education or privilege? On what evidence are you basing your evaluation? Do you think the 
  7. What actions are suggested by the talk -- are their ethical obligations to pay attention to, or judgements that should be made about how people have treated this problem in the past?
  8. Do you have any other opinions or reactions to the video talk?