Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Bag Man: Curiosity

I really liked this movie. I was intrigued by the content of the bag. It was a surprise to me. My students wanted to kill me, because I never told them what was in the bag, so they had to rent the movie if they wanted to know it. That's my contribution to Hollywood! By the way, this class generated a lot of discussion and debates. It was lovely!

I. Work with a partner:

What makes you curious? Rank the items from 1 (extremely curious) to 5 (not curious at all)

Life of celebrities

Discoveries about the outer space




Your neighbors

Your children's life

What people think

What your lover thinks

The existence of aliens/UFOs

What dreams mean

How/When you are going to die

Your future


 II. What do you understand by the expression: Curiosity Killed the Cat?

 Answer key:
"Curiosity killed the cat" is a metaphor used to warn of the dangers of unnecessary investigation or experimentation.

III. Divide the class into two groups. Group 1 reads passage # 1, whereas group 2 reads passage #2. Then pair-up one student from each group and they tell each other what they read about:


Curiosity is an important trait of a genius. I don’t think you can find an intellectual giant who is not a curious person. Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, they are all curious characters. Richard Feynman was especially known for his adventures which came from his curiosity.

But why is curiosity so important? Here are four reasons:
  1. It makes your mind active instead of passive                                                                                                                                           Curious people always ask questions and search for answers in their minds. Their minds are always active. Since the mind is like a muscle which becomes stronger through continual exercise, the mental exercise caused by curiosity makes your mind stronger and stronger.
  2. It makes your mind observant of new ideas
    When you are curious about something, your mind expects and anticipates new ideas related to it. When the ideas come they will soon be recognized. Without curiosity, the ideas may pass right in front of you and yet you miss them because your mind is not prepared to recognize them. Just think, how many great ideas may have lost due to lack of curiosity?
  3. It opens up new worlds and possibilitiesBy being curious you will be able to see new worlds and possibilities which are normally not visible. They are hidden behind the surface of normal life, and it takes a curious mind to look beneath the surface and discover these new worlds and possibilities.
  4. It brings excitement into your life
    The life of curious people is far from boring. It’s neither dull nor routine. There are always new things that attract their attention, there are always new ‘toys’ to play with. Instead of being bored, curious people have an adventurous life.

Tips to develop a curious mind:

1. Keep an open mind
This is essential if you are to have a curious mind. Be open to learn, unlearn, and relearn. Some things you know and believe might be wrong, and you should be prepared to accept this possibility and change your mind.

2. Don’t take things as granted
If you just accept the world as it is without trying to dig deeper, you will certainly lose the ‘holy curiosity’. Never take things as granted. Try to dig deeper beneath the surface of what is around you.

3. Ask questions relentlessly
A sure way to dig deeper beneath the surface is asking questions: What is that? Why is it made that way? When was it made? Who invented it? Where does it come from? How does it work? What, why, when, who, where, and how are the best friends of curious people.

4. Don’t label something as boring
Whenever you label something as boring, you close one more door of possibilities. Curious people are unlikely to call something as boring. Instead, they always see it as a door to an exciting new world. Even if they don’t yet have time to explore it, they will leave the door open to be visited another time.

5. See learning as something fun
If you see learning as a burden, there’s no way you will want to dig deeper into anything. That will just make the burden heavier. But if you think of learning as something fun, you will naturally want to dig deeper. So look at life through the glasses of fun and excitement and enjoy the learning process.

6. Read diverse kinds of reading
Don’t spend too much time on just one world; take a look at another worlds. It will introduce you to the possibilities and excitement of the other worlds which may spark your interest to explore them further. One easy way to do this is through reading diverse kinds of reading. Try to pick a book or magazine on a new subject and let it feed your mind with the excitement of a new world.

Taken from the awesome site:

IV. Watch the movie segment and discuss the questions.


1. What do you think is in the bag? What makes you believe that?

2. Would you manage to do what was requested - transport a suitcase without knowing what is inside, especially if someone tells you not to look inside the bag? Why (not)?

3. How curious are you? What about your family?

4. How do you feel when somebody says he/she has something to tell you, but he/she  would like to do it in another moment?

5. Are you curious enough to go through your lover's cell phone messages, e-mails or calls? Why (not)?

6. What if someone searched your e-mails, messages or calls? How would you react to that?

7. What is your opinion about curious people? Is being curious a positive or negative trait?


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mama: Theories of Cognitive Development and Language Acquisition - Piaget & Chomsky -

This is a scary movie, but the beginning is perfect for warming up topics such as the ones proposed on this post.
Read a short summary of Piaget's and Chomsky's theories of language acquisition. Then watch the segment and answer the questions. Although the segment is fictional, there are several registered cases of similar cases and outcomes. 

Taken from wikipedia

Piaget is one psychologist reluctant to ascribe specific innate linguistic abilities to children: he considers the brain a homogeneous computational system, with language acquisition being one part of general learning. He agrees this development may be innate, but claims there is no specific language acquisition module in the brain. Instead, he suggests external influences and social interaction trigger language acquisition: information collected from these sources constructs symbolic and functional schemata (thought or behaviour patterns). According to Piaget, cognitive development and language acquisition are lifelong active processes that constantly update and re-organise schemata. He proposes children develop L1 as they build a sense of identity in reference to the environment, and describes phases of general cognitive development, with processes and patterns changing systematically with age. Piaget assumes language acquisition is part of this complex cognitive development, and that these developmental phases are the basis for an optimal period for language acquisition in childhood. 

Chomsky - The capacity to learn a language is indeed innate, and, like many such inborn mechanisms, it is circumscribed in time. If a child does not learn a language before the onset of puberty, the child will never master language at all. This is known as the critical period hypothesis, which claims  that if somebody does not acquire a first language before a certain time (around puberty), they will lose the ability to acquire language. There are two versions of this hypothesis: The strong version states that language acquisition will be impossible after this point has been reached. The weak version states that acquisition will be difficult after this period has been reached.


1. Describe what happened to the children.

2. How do you think the theories are applicable in both cases?

3. They have spent the same amount of time away from society. How/Why are their behavior different?

4. How do you think their lives will be permanently affected?

5. How does the situation corroborate (or not) to the theory of the Critical Period Hypothesis?

6. Do you think the movie segment shown an accurate picture of what might happen to children who are isolated from the rest of the word? Explain it.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Ender's Game: Leadership

I. Work with a partner:

1. What are the qualities a good leader  must and must not have?

2. Can someone learn how to be a leader, or are they born one?

3. Do you consider yourself a good leader? Explain it.

4. Can you think of influential leaders? Give examples. 

II. Read the quotes below about leadership. Discuss with each other their meanings and whether you agree with them: 
"The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they
set for themselves."
Ray Kroc
"An effective leader is defined by results not whether they make
great speeches or is liked."
- Peter Drucker

 "The process of influencing others to perform a task by providing
purpose, direction and motivation."
- The Army
"Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.
- John Maxwell
"Leadership is someone who gives hope."
- Tom Peters

 "A true leader is someone who inspires others to become more
of who they truly are.  They bring out the talent in people and
have them put it to use over and over.  They inspire others to be
more than they ever dreamed of."
- Anthony Robbins
"A leader is someone that people follow."
- Warren Buffett

  "Good leaders make people feel that they're at the very  heart
of things, not the periphery."
- Warren Bennis
III. Match the adjectives that describe leadership and their meanings:

1. Responsible

2. Self-confident

3. Competitive

4. Bossy

5. independent

6. Ambitious

7. Sensible

8. Imaginative

9. Enthusiastic

10. Principled

11. Self-assured

12. Tough-minded

( ) People who like giving orders to other people

( ) people who always want to win

( ) People who trust their abilities or skills

( ) Worthy of trust

( ) People who have common sense and are practical

( ) has or shows great excitement and interest; 

( ) shows poise and confidence in your own worth;

( ) has high moral principles

( ) People you can trust or depend on

( ) People who want to be successful in life

( )  Faces facts and difficulties with strength and determination; realistic and resolute.

( ) People who are creative and good at thinking new ideas

Answer key:

Competitive - people who always want to win
Reliable -People you can trust or depend on
Responsible - Worthy of trust
Insecure - People who do not trust their abilities/skills
Self-confident - People who trust their abilities or skills
Independent - People who like doing things on their own, without help
Bossy - People who like giving orders to other people
Sensible - People who have common sense and are practical
Imaginative - People who are creative and good at thinking new ideas
Ambitious - People who want to be successful in life
Enthusiastic - Has or shows great excitement and interest
Principled - Has high moral principles
Tough-minded - Faces facts and difficulties with strength and determination; realistic and resolute
Self-assured - Shows poise and confidence in your own worth

IV. Watch the movie segment and discuss the questions.

1. What is a mind game in this case?
2. What personality traits does Ender have?
3. What do you think about their leadership training methods?
4. Which adjectives in Exercise III would you use to describe Ender?
5. Which adjectives would you use to describe the other leaders in the training?
6. What did Ender do that stood out the others?
7. Are they all effective leaders? Explain it.