Archive for May, 2015

Modernity and Postmodernity

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

Don’t know your Foundationalism from your Anti-Essentialism?

Your agile corporation from your Post-Fordist or, indeed your simulacra from your elbow?

If reality causes you confusion (but you’ve got a sneaking suspicion “The Truth” is out there, somewhere) then this free book chapter (taken from A2 Sociology for AQA), is probably just what you need to start bluffing your way through the highways and the byways of PoMo with the best of them.

In addition to outlining and explaining the key characteristics of Postmodernity (economic, political and cultural), it contrasts them with the key characteristics of Modernity.

Which means, in effect, you get two for the price of none.

Can’t say fairer than that.

New Recipe Card (CIE AS Sociology)

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

This Recipe Card, based on the AS Family section of the CIE International A-level Sociology syllabus, is designed to help students answer the essay question:

“Marriage has less importance in modern industrial societies than it has in traditional societies”. Explain and assess this view. [25]

Download the recipe card.

An Alternative to A-level Sociology 2015

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

September 2015 in England and Wales sees yet another educational change in the shape of “new A-levels”- which are sort-of “new old A-levels” in terms of a structure that harks back to the “Good-old-Bad-old days” (pre-2000 in new money).

Although it will still be possible for students to take both an “AS-level” qualification and an “A-level” qualification the situation, if you’ve given it even a passing thought, is likely to be a logistical nightmare for students, teachers and, equally importantly, schools.

This follows because, in a situation where school resources are likely to become ever-tighter and ever more stretched over the next five years, hard decisions are going to have to be made about the type of A-level qualification schools can offer.

For most maintained schools this is likely to mean the AS qualification will effectively disappear as a standalone offering; students enrolled on the 2-year “full a-level” will see AS incorporated into the A-level and won’t take a separate qualification (since there’s little point entering for an exam that will be worth nothing in the context of the full exam – they will have to sit both AS and A2 at the end of their 2-year course).

While there’s nothing to stop students who intend to only sit the AS exam being in the same class as those who intend to do the full A-level, things may become a little tricky the closer they get to the AS exam, in terms of revision etc. A further, perhaps more significant, problem here is that students who do well in the AS exam might then decide they want to complete the full a-level; their AS success then counts for nothing since they effectively have to do the exam again (at a higher level) at the end of their course.


Recipe Cards: AS Sociology

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

Having made an inital, a2 sociology recipe card for crime and deviance (plus a blank template that can be used to create your own personal recipe card) I thought I’d turn my hand to as sociology.

This recipe card is built around a Families and Households question.


Recipe Card: Word Template

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

While it’s possible to edit the blank pdf Recipe Card template, you need to have the right software. If you haven’t got it this can be a complete pain and also reduces you or your students to adding the ingredients to the card by hand. This is likely to cause problems when students make mistakes when adding ingredients or if they have large handwriting (there’s not that much space on an A4 document).

To give you more options, therefore, we’ve created a blank Word-based Recipe Card – one that can be quickly and easily edited using any .docx compatible word processor.

Recipe for Success: Part 2

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Have now put together a “proper” recipe card – this uses the text in the previous post for the A2 Crime and Deviance question “Assess sociological explanations of the role of the mass media in creating moral panics about crime and deviance. (21 marks)”.

Download the recipe card for this essay.

Have also created a “blank” recipe card so you / your students can create your own cards for any question.


Recipe for Success

Monday, May 4th, 2015

This is an idea I’ve just started to kick around: it’s by no-means fully-formed and if you think it might have some mileage, all contributions / suggestions are very welcome.

Family Recipe Card

In basic terms it’s a way to get students to think about how they construct answers to essay-type questions by using an analogy – in this instance, constructing an answer is analogous to constructing a meal; the link between both is the recipe.

This has developed, in part, out of two ideas I’ve seen used that are tangentially linked to the general “cooking theme”:

  1. Takeaway Homework lists – where students are given a “menu” from which they can select different types of homework.
  2. Essay Menus that encourage students to think about the broad structure of their essays in terms of three parts:
  3. Starter – the introduction
  4. Main – the body of the essay answer
  5. Dessert – the conclusion.

While Recipe for Success is built on similar on ideas about essay structure and choice it differs from both because of its focus on the actual essay-writing process, rather than simply its structure. In other words, the focus here is on the ingredients – key theories, concepts and sources – that can be identified and combined to produce a coherent and well-structured answer.

At the moment I’m leaning towards the idea of encouraging students to think in terms of paragraph construction, where each paragraph must have:

  • Meat: the central idea – what the paragraph is “about”
  • Garnish: a range of concepts that complement the central idea through illustrations, explanations, application and evaluations.
  • Sauce: examples of writers / studies that connect the meat and the garnish.
  • In other words, for each paragraph students have to use:

  • a single idea drawn from the “meat” ingredients
  • any number of ideas drawn from the “garnish” ingredients.
  • at least one idea drawn from the list of sauces.
  • A further possibility is to add a “stock” or “store” section that contains a range of concepts students might want to apply in their answer; these are deliberately general (class, age, etc.) and may or may not be used as required.

    Recipe 1 in this document illustrates this idea. It also contains some variations on the general theme.

    And once you’ve read and understood the document you can see how this all pans out in terms of an actual essay recipe card.