I was really grateful for one of my students requesting a special mention to the Jewish festival Hannukah in our lesson this week.

We began in our first lesson with a 5 minute clip by actress and comedian Mayim Bialik which describes in a really light-way why and how the festival is celebrated. Then the next day we watched the slightly cringe music video called Bohemian Chanukah which surprised the students by reminding them of facts from the previous day in a humorous fashion. You can also read the lowdown on this festival from the BBC Schools website.


Now you might be ready to take the CBBC challenge of a Hannukah quiz!

Living Off Grid

The definition of offgrid is to be not connected to or served by publicly or privately managed utilities (such as electricity, gas, or water). Photographer Ed Gold lived alongside a small community who live on a Scottish peninsula which is either a 5 mile walk or a boat ride to reach. The photo story is reported on the BBC and is a really interesting view of how people choose to live off-grid.  BBCiWonder also explore this topic and wonder what you need and what costs are involved.


British MP asked Justice Minister to reintroduce the Death Penalty

The MP John Hayes asked the justice secretary in a written request in Parliament to “make an assessment of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to reintroduce the death penalty to tackle violent crime”. The response from the justice minister Edward Argar was that the government “opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances and has no plans to reintroduce it”. Mr Argar also explained  that the UK is campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty globally, he said: “There is no evidence that capital punishment acts as a deterrent to violent crime. Furthermore, the reintroduction of the death penalty would bring with it the very real risk that some innocent people would die.”

Capital punishment ended in the UK in 1965. The last people to be hanged were Peter Allen and Gwynne Evans, who were executed for the murder of John West in Seaton, Cumberland.

This 10 minute video from BBC Teach is just for GCSE students as the content is for older teenagers, and shows you the arguments for and against the death penalty. Or you can read about it on BBC Bitesize. Below are some slides which give the basic arguments for and against having the death penalty (capital punishment) as a method of punishment:

non religious

christian against

muslim against

christian images

muslims for

Eat less meat to cut carbon emissions

Scientists have said eat less meat to cut carbon emissions but the UK’s climate minister Claire Perry has told BBC News that it is not the government’s job to advise people on a climate-friendly diet. Friends of the Earth are not impressed at all. They think it is a dereliction of duty and that government ministers should show leadership on this difficult issue. Would you stop eating meat in an effort to help slow down climate change?

It is a shocking facts that raising animals for food produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, planes, and other forms of transportation combined. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, carbon dioxide emissions from raising farmed animals make up about 15 percent of global human-induced emissions, with beef and milk production as the leading culprits.


Experts say that our battle over climate change is going to have to get more personal.  This might involve:

  • driving smaller cars
  • walking and cycling more
  • flying less
  • buying less fast fashion
  • wearing a sweater in winter
  • eating less meat

There will need to be a cultural shift and they want governments support those messages to it will be an impossible task keeping the global temperature rise at 1.5C. Religious groups are already preaching to their supporters about how to act now on climate change. Operation Noah was set up in 2004 to provide a Christian response to the climate crisis. They work with all Christian denominations and support interfaith work on climate change. Their catch phrase is faith motivated, science informed and hope inspired.

op noah


Follow chicken from the farm to the fryer

A short 10 minute documentary on the BBC showed chicken lover Hezron Springer how the fried chicken he eats travels from the farm to his local fried chicken restaurant. He’s shocked that chickens only live until 39 days old when they are killed for their meat.


It is always good to know where your food is coming from, either from a health or ethical  view point

The Paradox of Tolerance

Tolerance is a self-contradictory principle. You’ve probably realised this from your everyday life and musings on world events. Basically as a principle tolerance means we  must be tolerant of everything. People can’t just pick and choose what they are going to tolerate and what they aren’t. So this all means that tolerance requires us to tolerate even intolerance. Ouch! Not so easy!

In other words, the principle of tolerance requires us to grant intolerant people the right to be intolerant. But this all a bit twisted as tolerance is supposed to be the opposite of  intolerance, and it just means that it is supporting the very thing it is supposed to be against. This might even lead you to think it makes more sense to be intolerant. The intolerant person’s simple motto is: “I like the things I like and I hate the things I hate, and I will hate the people who like the things I hate, and I will make that hate known to them in no uncertain terms.” Hold on though, this certainly isn’t going to create a friendly, open, free, democratic society as there will be no tolerance.

Let’s look to Karl Popper to make some sense out of all this:

Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. From Karl Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies


Karl Popper preferred a tolerant society where people are allowed freedom of speech. He said that only when intolerant ideas could not be rationally argued and society risked falling into an intolerant system should those intolerant ideas be suppressed.  To repeat things a bit, he said, “I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise.” Popper’s ideas are debated today when people try to make sense of world events where ideas of tolerance and intolerance are clashing on a seemingly daily basis. A bit further back in 2011, Demos and the Open Society Institute debated diversity and solidarity. Their discussions touched upon the paradox of tolerance.

paradoxoftolerance Karl Popper

Love Island: immoral or educational?

Love Island causes controversy and I’m not just talking about how the relationships unfold in the house. It can create a response a bit like Marmite: you love or hate it.


So what do different people think about it?

Ophelia Stimpson, a 25-year-old Oxford grad, argues that the programme “operates on a number of levels and is actually quite a clever show because it does create a theatre, which panders to ‘intelligent’ viewers.” She explains: “It actually refers to the people in it as the ‘cast’ and ‘characters’, which is interesting. It’s hilarious because the way it’s edited makes it look like they can only comprehend the situation in front of them, with zero emotional depth.”

Other people really enjoy the pure comedy. There’s clever editing and there’s the simple relaying of conversations. “What’s the Lake District?”, Adam asked Sophie in 2016’s show. “It’s… a district with lots of lakes,” she started hesitantly. “You’ve got Belfast there… What’s the stretch of sea between England and Ireland?” she then asked the other contestants across the swimming pool. “The English Channel?” one of them suggested, which sent all lovers of Geography into a tailspin. This year we had Hayley’s confusion about Brexit.

Georgia: So what do you think about Brexit?

Hayley: What’s that?

Georgia: Where we’re leaving the European Union

Hayley: I seriously don’t have a clue…

Samira: So it was to leave the EU so we wouldn’t be part of Europe

Hayley: Oh the EU, yeah, yeah

Georgia: Which would mean like welfare, and like things we trade with would be cut down

Hayley: So does that mean we won’t have any trees?

Samira: Cheese?

Hayley: Trees

Gerogia: No that’s got nothing to do with it Babe, that’s weather

Dani: Why wouldn’t we have trees?

Hayley: What are yous talking about?

Away from the humour, some people like it for anthropological reasons. “It’s so brutal it’s anthropologically interesting,” says Rosie Litterick, who studied at the University of York. “From a feminist point of view, all the men are awful and treat the women terribly.” It is definitely interesting to view how young people interact in this false competitive situation. The only risk could be that some viewers forget that it is a false competitive situation and think they are watching real life they should emulate.

Finally we’ll turn to Caitlin Moran who said: “I can defend Love Island for as long as I need to. Firstly, because it is the one programme my entire family will watch together. Even the dog seems to enjoy it, and I suspect that’s because it has equal intelligence to most of the people on TV. I don’t have any problems with watching dim people in their pants struggling with small life events; I find that very relaxing given the current political climate in the world.”

“But the thing I find most useful about it is that my children are teenagers, and this is incredibly educational. They’re horrified by the things they see, but at the same time they know that they’re going to be experiencing them in the next couple of years. It’s so hard to talk about sex or relationships with your teenage kids, but when you’re sitting and watching something like Love Island, and you’ve got all these situations happening it just allows you to go into a little rant or ask them questions about how it’s coming across to them or how they would deal with that situation. It’s saved me about a year and a half of embarrassing parenting, all whilst being wrapped up in a light entertainment format.” In class we talk about how the contestants deal with heartbreak, communication problems, taking relationships to the next step and what sort of behaviour is respectful.