Q1. Is languages more than words? Respond with reference to one of the activities completed in class in Week 1 or to AT LEAST two haiku.

Haiku can be found here (http://www.haiku-poetry.org/famous-haiku.html)

Q2. Consider Mark Pagel’s argument about the evolution of language. Do you agree/disagree? Why?

Mark Pagel’s TED talk can be found here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImQrUjlyHUg)

Q3. In your opinion, where does language come from? Is it innate or learned? Respond with reference to Noam Chomsky, Steven Pinker, and/or Daniel Everett.

Click through to find out more about Noam Chomsky (http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/capsules/outil_rouge06.html), Steven Pinker (http://bigthink.com/videos/how-children-learn-language), and Daniel Everett (http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/mar/25/daniel-everett-human-language-piraha)

Q4. Evaluate the usefulness of Natural Semantic Metalanguage

Pages 464-469 in this resource will be helpful (http://www.griffith.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/419064/Goddard_2010_OUP_Handbook_Ch18.pdf).

Q5. Does languages reflect or determine thought? Respond with reference to emotion or colour.

For more about colour, watch this documentary from 11:45 (http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xl7czm_horizon-do-you-see-what-i-see-part-3-4_shortfilms). For more about emotion, read this journal article (http://www.faculty.umb.edu/gary_zabel/Courses/Spinoza/Texts/Human%20Emotions-Universal%20or%20Culture-Specific.pdf).

Q6. Does language express our identity or does it constitute it? Is our language just a reflection of who we are or does our language make us who we are? Respond with reference to endangered languages or translation.

Discover the magic of this website on endangered languages (http://travel.nationalgeographic.com.au/travel/enduring-voices/).

Q7. Edward Sapir said “Language is a symbolic guide to culture” and “Vocabulary is a very sensitive index of the culture of a people”. Do you agree/disagree? Why?

We’ve covered this pretty extensively in class, but consider all those words that are “not translatable”…

Q8. Should we fear or welcome netspeak? Why/why not?

For more information, click through to this article (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-483511/I-h8-txt-msgs-How-texting-wrecking-language.html) or this one (http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116161/net-speak-because-making-english-warmer-language).

Q9. Must language always change? Can we “protect” it? Keep it “pure”?

To find out more about L’Academie Francaise, read this article (http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2014/03/academie-francaise/). Alternatively, here’s a link through to an article about new words added to the Oxford English Dictionary (http://time.com/3109043/oxford-dictionaries-adds-hot-mess-side-boob-throw-shade/).

Q10. Does censorship change thoughts? Why/why not? Respond with reference to scandals about censoring books that children read.

For more information, click through to this article (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-11417672) or this one (http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2011/jan/05/censoring-mark-twain-n-word-unacceptable).

Q11. Can we “reclaim” words? Why/why not?

For more information, click through to this article (http://blogs.crikey.com.au/fullysic/2011/05/30/taking-slut-back-how-a-word-gets-reclaimed/) or this one (http://www.gender-focus.com/2012/07/25/gender-focus-panel-on-reclaiming-negative-words/)


As a short pick me up, it’s commencement season in America which means that there are a bunch of people graduating from America universities and there are a bunch of people who are speaking at those graduations. I’m obsessed with these. Primarily because it’s one of the few times really influential people will say things deeply inspiring and make me want to be them more. Alternatively, it’s also because whether you’re graduating from primary school, high school, college, or university, you’re on the precipice of a new stage in your life and the feeling is the same, the problems you’re having, racking your brain about choices and decisions and life is very similar. Sit back and enjoy.

Michelle Obama
She’s my idol. She speaks truth to trouble and makes you feel like she gets your pain.

David Foster Wallace
This guy is an incredible writer – unfortunately, recently having passed. It’s from a little bit ago but he’s enrapturing.

Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama makes lame jokes about studying but talks about our need to create meaningful lives. He’s cray (but awesome).

This morning a “colourless, pear-shaped diamond weighing 101.73 carats has sold for a record $23.8 million”. When found in Botswana, it was originally 236 carats (more than twice the size). We just decided to shave it down because we have a particular conception of what “a good diamond looks like”. Do you think this sort of arbitrary (random/without reason) decision of what is expensive and what isn’t should be allowed in the world?

Read more: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-05-16/colourless-diamond-auctioned/4692744

What do you think of the skywhale? By now you must have heard about its enormous price tag (~$300 000) – but what do you actually think about it? Do you think it is a symbol of Canberra? Do you think it has a secret message for Canberra? Do you think it is a portal through which we can understand our united hopes, dreams, and anxieties about our nation?

Okay maybe I’m taking this a little far – but consider it. What role does this Skywhale play in developing who we are as Canberrans? How does it help produce the “Canberra” identity?

James Rhodes is a concert pianist and my new favourite human. He argues that it doesn’t matter what we do with our lives if at the end of it we say “I wish I learned to play the piano” or “I wish I went to the beach more” or “I wish I had children”. We have so much time, why don’t we use it?

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2013/apr/26/james-rhodes-blog-find-what-you-love

No seriously. He thinks that the mind can be reduced to a series of “mechanisms” that if we can deconstruct and look through their operations, then we’re all good. In his latest book, “Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking“, he goes through a load of these so-called “mechanisms”, trying to explain what they’re used for, why they came about, and how we can take advantage of them better. Interesting, no?

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/30/books/daniel-dennett-author-of-intuition-pumps-and-other-tools-for-thinking.html?_r=0


Researchers at the University of Duisberg Essen (it’s real, it’s in Germany, I promise) have concluded that “humans have similar brain function when shown images of affection and violence being inflicted on robots and humans”. As in, humans have a similar response to humans as robots when good or bad things are happening to them.

What do you think of this? Do you think this is the reason why people are so attached to technology? Or is it not really like human interaction at all?

Read more: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-04/ica-hfe041813.php

the cat in the hatRemember back to your childhood with Dr Seuss and The Cat in the Hat. The cat comes from no where and throws two kids’ lives, Sally’s and Sam’s, into a crazy mess. Let’s read this philosophically though. Isn’t this actually a story about trust? Sally’s and Sam’s mother trusted them both not to let strangers in the house. Sally and Sam trusted the Cat enough to let it in and  do crazy things. I guess it’s also a story about responsibility, right? Who had responsibility? How do we give people responsibility?

But wait… it’s just The Cat in the Hat.
We’re over thinking it here, aren’t we?

You decide. Read more: http://www.teachingchildrenphilosophy.org/wiki/The_Cat_in_the_Hat


the-story-of-ferdinand-book-coverThis is all part of a greater initiative bringing philosophy into primary schools. After 7 weeks of philosophizing yourself, do you think trying to get philosophy in schools at a younger age is a good thing? (I’m in favour of it, but after all, I’m a philosophy teacher so it’s good for job prospects!)

Here’s another blog philsophizing one of my favourite picture books: The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. I’ll bring it in if you’d all like to read it. It’s about a bull who like to smell flowers.

What the, yeah I know.

Check it out: http://storyphilosophy.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/the-story-of-ferdinand-animal-rights.html


‘Allo allo ladies and gents. Hope you’ve been having a good holiday. In light of all the US-based tragedy this past week, there’s been a lot of talk about what life is worth and how much we value it.

Meet Mike Merrill who sold his life on the stock exchange, selling his life choices and letting people determine the value of his life.

Read more: http://www.wired.com/business/2013/03/ipo-man/all/

Thank you everyone who participated in class today. Thank you also to all of you playing at home, following Theory of LTC in your own time.

This week’s focus question is:

Do schools teach students knowledge? Should they? What is the purpose of education?

Please leave a comment below with your answer. Don’t be afraid to respond to other people’s answers in your own.

Remember the two rules: Use your initials instead of your real name and enjoy the ride!

Here is Sir Ken Robinson’s speech illustrated by RSA to keep you thinking.