Category Archives for Critical Thinking Resource

Time to Embrace Earth!

Time to Embrace Earth!

April 22nd is the annual celebration of the Modern Environmental Movement in 1970. It is known as Earth Day, or International Mother Earth Day.

ORIGINS OF EARTH DAY 

On 22 April 1970, 20 million people gathered in the streets of the United States to protest against environmental destruction. This protest was sparked by the Santa Barbara oil spill and its devastating impacts on the environment. In December of the same year, Congress created the Environmental Protection Agency, which was dedicated to clean up the nation’s natural resources. Rising awareness of climate change and the need for a clean environment grew amongst many American voters. 

“It took this basket of issues that we now call “the environment” and elevated them spectacularly in the public consciousness.”

~ Denis Hayes, organiser of the first Earth Day

WHY IS EARTH DAY IMPORTANT?

On a broader scale, Earth Day teaches the importance of conserving and protecting the environment. As society progresses into a more technocratic one, we have to remember the importance of protecting the Earth for future generations. 

The rapid development of society has only caused air pollution, global warming and deforestation to worsen, causing the temperature of the Earth to rise and multiple animal species to go extinct. 

Here are some reasons why having an environmentally conscious society is important:

  • Protecting the environment protects humanity- Pollution has caused natural resources like the air and water to be unclean. This also causes the quality of food to be affected, leading to the ingestion of toxic substances.
  • Forests provide raw materials such as food, rubber and timber.
  • Forests provide habitats for multiple species- Destroying forests would lead to the destruction of the ecosystem, causing more species to be endangered/go extinct

WHAT CAN WE DO TO LEAD AN ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS LIFE ?

Being environmentally conscious for one day is a step in the right direction. However, small changes in our lifestyle can reduce our carbon footprint, making Earth Day everyday! 

REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE!

  • REDUCE your carbon footprint- Less private cars on the road means less carbon emissions polluting the air! Riding your bike or taking the bus not only allows you to experience the sights and sounds of Singapore, but is also a great way to spend quality time with your family!
  • Use REUSABLE items- When shopping for groceries, bring a big reusable bag instead of using the plastic bags provided at grocery stores! Singapore uses about 1.76 billion plastic items each year, 860 million of which are plastic bags from supermarkets! Beyond just taking up space in landfills, turtles and other sea creatures often mistake plastic bags to be jellyfish, consuming such waste.
  • RECYCLE or UPCYCLE your clothes- Instead of buying a new outfit every few months, thrift! Places like Lucky Plaza and Salvation Army have one-of-a-kind pieces that are cheap and can reduce your consumption. Often, these stores allow you to donate your old clothes in exchange for ‘new’ pieces. Your pre-loved clothes can become a part of someone else’s new wardrobe (and vice versa).Upcycling clothes and thinking of new ways to style old pieces is another way of recycling an old wardrobe! By taking in the waist of an oversized dress or mashing two pieces of clothing together, upcycling works your brain muscles and reduces fabric wastage. 

Questions to Consider:

1. What other reasons can you think of to save the Earth?

2. What other changes can you make to your lifestyle to make the world a better place? 

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Remembering Rosa Parks

Remembering Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks was a seamstress by profession and was also the secretary for the Montgomery chapter of NAACP, a civil rights organisation working to advance justice for African Americans.

Known as the “mother of the freedom movement”, Parks was born on 4 February 1913. She was given this title due to her pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott and the fight against Jim Crow Laws in the USA. 

To further understand her as a revolutionary figure, we have to understand the history of racism, slavery and segregation in the USA.

Slavery in the USA: The legal institution of human chattel enslavement

From its founding in 1776 to 1865, slavery existed in America. The rapid growth of the cotton industry in the south of America increased the demand for slave labour. This caused the United States to become polarised (and not so united) over the issue of slavery, where the Northern and Southern states were split into free and slave states, respectively.

This consequently resulted in the American Civil War beginning in 1861, leading to the end of chattel slavery in America. However, the end of slavery did not mean the end of oppression for black people in America.

Jim Crow Laws on Public Transport Systems

Laws were created in some states to separate people of colour (mostly black people) and white people. This meant that some public services like restaurants, schools and even drinking fountains were exclusively serving white individuals, disallowing black people and people of colour from entering the premises.

Racial segregation laws were enforced on public transport systems. For example, white people were allowed to fill seats from the front to back while black people would fill seats from back to front, until the bus was full. If a white person boarded a crowded bus, everyone in the black row nearest to the front half of the bus would have to stand so that a new row of white people could be formed.


Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

One afternoon in 1955, Parks was seated in the foremost row in which black people were allowed to sit. When a white man boarded the bus, everyone in the foremost row was told to move back by the bus driver. She refused and noticed that the driver was the same man who stopped her from boarding his bus from the front door a few years prior. Parks was later arrested for failing to obey the driver’s orders.

The arrest of Rosa Parks spread outrage throughout the black community in Montgomery. An impending boycott was advertised at black churches where an organised system of carpools was created. Black taxi drivers began to charge a fare equal to the cost of a bus ride in support of the boycott. 

From white housewives driving their black servants to and from work, to individuals hitchhiking, cycling and driving horse-drawn buggies, the boycott proved to be extremely effective as it caused the city transit system serious economic distress. After 381 days, laws were finally amended and black people were allowed to sit anywhere they chose on buses.

This history of resistance and protest for equal rights is seen throughout Black history. Rosa Parks is one of many heroic figures who helped ignite such passion for change in future generations.

Let's Discuss

The passion for change and justice can be seen though figures like Rosa Parks who stands for the civil rights and freedom of her community. What kind of changes (environmentally, socially, politically...) do YOU feel passionate about?

Recommended

Learn more about our key strategies for boosting our student's grades.

Visit our compilation of other posts related to all things English.

I see dead people – Cole Sear

Is there such a thing as a ghost? Whatever an individual's personal views are on the subject, culturally most of us are brought up with the understanding that the dead lives in another form that still requires some kind of sustenance. An afterlife is largely dictated by several factors: the kind of life they had lived on earth; how their remains were disposed of at their death; and/or how they were remembered by the living.

The details of the afterlife in different cultures can vary, but the constants are that such a realm exists. This realm is governed by immutable laws, while the souls of the dead will remain there unless given licence by the gods to return to the land of the living for a specific reason. These reasons can include improper funeral rites; a lack of any kind of burial; murder where the body is missing or improperly buried; or to resolve some unfinished business.

The appearance of ghosts of the departed, even those of loved ones, is rarely considered a welcoming experience. The dead are supposed to remain in their own land and not expected to return to the world of the living. When such an event does occur, it is a sure sign that something is terribly wrong. Those who experience a spiritual encounter are expected to take care of the problem in order for the ghost to return to its proper place. This understanding is so prevalent that ghost stories can be found, with very similar themes across many cultures.

In various cultures, the spirits of the dead can benefit the living unless they are given improper burial rites. The Hungry Ghost Festival, which originated to honour and appease the dead, continues to be held on the fifteenth day of the seventh month of the year. Known as the "Ghost Month", this time is thought to be when the veil between the realm of the living and that of the dead is thinnest and the dead can easily cross over.  So that’s why during the ghost festival, you see people leaving out food and gifts for the dead in the hope that they will be appeased and not bother the living.


Do you know a Spooky Place in Singapore?

There are many locations in Singapore that are thought to be haunted. Here, we highlight two locations that are considered to have high spook factor: 

Changi Old Beach Houses

On paper, this place seems like a good idea. Need a break from hectic work life? Renting a house near the beach would be the perfect getaway. However, you might be in for something a little more sinister. People have reported feeling like they were stared at and some have even returned home with scars. Others have also complained about doors creaking open and shut non-stop, and at night, witnesses claim to have heard a woman wailing. Changi Beach was used as the site of the infamous Sook Ching massacre during WWII. It is rumoured that the souls of the innocent slain continue to roam the beach, weeping and wailing in the night. Passers-by also claim to have spotted bloodstains on walls.

Pulau Tekong

EVERYBODY has heard the horror stories from Pulau Tekong. Boys, you share them in your bunks and then do not sleep at night. Girls, you hear them from your male friends and thank your lucky stars for the comfort of your own homes. The most frequently-told tale is that of a young man for Charlie Company who went for his 16km route march and got separated from the pack. He was later discovered by his platoon commander with all his insides laid out next to his body. Beds in the recruit's former bunk often shake for no reason and some people even report hearing his voice at night. Apparently, a third door was built in the bunk to let his spirit out but he continues to roam the bunkers.

The Worst House Guests

Houseflies. They are everywhere and anywhere.

Believed to be native to Asia, houseflies now inhabit nearly every corner of the globe. Except for Antarctica and a few islands, houseflies live everywhere people do. Houseflies are synanthropic organisms: they benefit ecologically from their association with humans and domesticated animals. Conversely, houseflies are rarely found in the wilderness or in places where humans are absent. Should humankind cease to exist, houseflies might share our fate.

They procreate anywhere too, as and when they wish, laying their eggs even in feces. Their rate of reproduction is so fast that, if not for environmental conditions and predation, houseflies would perhaps rule the world.

Houseflies breed in the things we revile - garbage, animal dung, sewage, human excrement, and other nasty substances. While living among these filth, they feed on them too. With sponge-like mouth-parts, houseflies soak up liquefied substances. When a housefly locates something tasty but solid, it regurgitates onto the food. Its vomit contains digestive enzymes that quickly predigest and liquefy the food for the fly suck it all up.

Other than its gross vomits, houseflies poop a lot too. Nearly every time a housefly lands, it defecates. So, the housefly almost always does poop where it eats. Keep that in mind next time when one touches down on your favourite meal...


Something to ponder

1. How do houseflies decide something is appetising? 

2. How do houseflies transmit diseases?


Here's how

They step on it! Like butterflies, houseflies have their taste buds on their toes, so to speak. Taste receptors, called chemosensilla, are located at the far ends of the fly's tibia and tarsa (in simpler terms, the lower leg and foot). The moment they land on something of interest – your garbage, a pile of horse manure, or perhaps your lunch – they start sampling its flavour by walking around.

Houseflies thrive in places that are teeming with pathogens, hence they have a bad habit of carrying disease-causing agents with them from place to place. A housefly will land on a pile of dog poop, inspect it thoroughly with its feet, and then fly over to your picnic table and walk around on your hamburger bun for a bit. Their food and breeding sites are already overflowing with bacteria, and then they vomit and defecate on them to add to the mess. Houseflies are known to transmit at least 65 diseases and infections, including cholera, dysentery, giardiasis, typhoid, leprosy, conjunctivitis, salmonella, and many more.

#StopSucking: Reducing Plastic Waste?

Many giants in the food and beverage industry have started to reduce or completely eliminate the use of plastic straws in their establishments. One such company is Starbucks, which has vowed to ban plastic straws in all its stores worldwide by 2020.

The movement started to gain traction in 2015, when a video showing a sea turtle suffering because of a straw stuck in its nose went viral. This has led to the widespread movement against plastic straws, with celebrities like Ellen Pompeo and Neil DeGrasse Tyson backing the #StopSucking movement on social media.

However, while conservationists laud the move for the awareness it creates, they are also skeptical about the positive impact on the environment this movement actually creates. Scientists have found that while there are approximately 7.5 million plastic straws strewn across beaches in the US, nearly 9000 kilograms of plastic end up on coastlines worldwide. Read more here!

Questions to Consider:

1. Should the effort spent on reducing plastic straw usage be invested In cutting plastic in other ways?

2. Has human impact on the earth been a positive one?

Yodelling to Fame

In this day and age, it appears that anyone can become an instant celebrity overnight, thanks to the swift nature of information transmission over the internet.

One example of this is of "Yodelling Walmart Kid" Mason Ramsey, who shot to instant fame after a video of him singing in Walmart went viral. Ramsey then went on to feature on The Ellen Show as well as perform at huge music festivals like Coachella.

Consequently, this has resulted in hordes of people who record everything religiously, in hopes that something they capture on video will catapult them to fame.

Some fear that this is a worrying trend that causes people to be less aware of their surroundings, thus becoming more prone to accidents. 

Read more about Mason Ramsey here.

Questions to Consider:

1. What do you think makes a viral video popular?

2. Do you think viral videos can be used positively to effect change? Give some examples.

Legal Rights for Monkeys?

In 2011, a photographer named David Slater left his camera unattended in an Indonesian rainforest. When he returned, he found that a macaque had used his camera and taken a selfie!

The photo of the monkey soon went viral worldwide, catching the attention of animal activist group PETA. Mr Slater found himself embroiled in a lawsuit from PETA, claiming that the monkey was the true owner of the photo and that all profits earned from the photo should belong to it.

The case was heard in court, and the judges decided that animals were not intended to be protected by the Copyright Act and that the monkey was therefore not eligible to claim the profits. However, Mr Slater also agreed to donate 25% of any future revenue from the photo towards charities protecting macaques.

Read the report here.

Questions to Consider

1. Do you agree with the judges’ decision? Explain your rationale.
2. What rights should/ can be given to animals?
3. What are some ways in which animals can be protected from exploitation?

Are you ready for the PSLE?

We are pleased to announce that we have a FREE 2-week PSLE English Boot Camp! In the Boot Camp, students will benefit from Videos and Practice Papers on alternating days. The Videos teach vital grammar rules and commonly mistaken word pairs, while the Practice Papers pertain to the key PSLE English Paper 2 components.

Sign up today to receive our FREE 2-week Boot Camp in your inbox daily.

Crispy rendang chicken, anyone?

At Creative Campus, our curriculum is tailored to include a healthy dose of current affairs. Besides tackling real-life issues, we ensure that our students know how to source for relevant clues in a given question, so that they can arrive at the correct answer every time. Here’s a short passage to test your skills in Comprehension Cloze.
Scroll down for the answers at the bottom of this page.

Gregg Wallace cooked up an international (1) ________ when he eliminated a Malaysian contestant based on the chicken rendang she presented on a television contest. The iconic delicacy is usually slow cooked in a coconut-based curry gravy. It is meant to be tender and moist.

“The chicken skin is not (2) ________. It can’t be eaten,” he declared on MasterChef UK.

Wallace’s controversial remarks on the reality television show sparked an online (3) ________. Even the British High Commissioner to Malaysia, Vicki Treadell, warned that he should not confuse the traditional dish with fried chicken, which is often served with nasi lemak (coconut rice). Wallace has since added fuel to the (4) ________ on his Twitter account. Many are up in (5) ________ over his Twitter feed that signed off with “Namaste”, a greeting native in India, while suggesting that the dish was from Indonesia.

(6) ­________ the saga, Wallace has been busy backpedalling, “I didn’t mean it should be fried, like fried chicken. What I (7) ________ was it wasn’t cooked. It was white and flabby.”

Read more details on the #chickenrendang saga here.

Answers to Comprehension Cloze

Did you get all the answers to the cloze passage above?
1. storm
2. crispy
3. furore
4. fire
5. arms
6. Since
7. meant

Start preparing for the PSLE now

Have you subscribed to our FREE 2-week PSLE English Boot Camp? Students from Primary 3 and up can benefit from this course.

In the Boot Camp, students will benefit from Videos and Practice Papers on alternating days. The Videos teach vital grammar rules and commonly mistaken word pairs, while the Practice Papers pertain to the key PSLE English Paper 2 components.

Sign up today to receive our FREE 2-week Boot Camp in your inbox daily.

“The habit of writing for my eye is good practice. It loosens the ligaments.”  ~ Virginia Woolf

The Benefits of Journal Writing

Journal entries are pivotal for improving writing and honing a student's personal voice. A skilled storyteller can reflect on his records and use them as fodder for his essay writings. Here are some benefits of writing a diary or a journal, especially for students.

1. Confidence Building

Unlike assigned writing, journal writing does not have the pressure of an audience. It can be totally uninhibited, confessional and honest. Journal writing lets fledgling writers practice without fear. Research shows that it takes at least 28 repetitions of a concept or skills before it is solidified in the brain. It helps if the writer learns a specific writing technique and then consciously apply the skills while writing the journal. Over time, through adequate self-review, the writer can nail down the techniques and apply them in his work accurately.

2. Better Self Understanding

Like any form of artistic expression, journal writing is a process of self-discovery. Important issues or ideas that lay dormant in the subconscious may resurface during free writing, whereby one writes without regard to spelling, grammar, or topic. Writing is therapeutic, and hence, cathartic. Hidden strengths are revealed in the prose, helping one to build character and grow.

3. Entertainment

Journal writing can include drawings, sketches, doodles and polaroids to make the process interesting. The writings can also tie-in with the writer's hobbies and sometimes, help the writer to make a living.

For example, many food connoisseurs write food blogs (a form of public journal writing) to chronicle their experiences. In 2002, Julie Powell channeled her love of cooking into setting up a blog where she documented her daily thoughts while cooking each of the 542 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. As a result, Powell became a published author and a Hollywood film based on her blog, Julie and Julia, was made. Even Doctor Leslie Tay, famed for his "ieatishootipost" blog, is renowned for his insight on the Singaporean cuisine.


With the plethora of benefits of journal writing, try it out as part of your new year resolution. Who knows, you might just end up loving it.  

Start preparing for the PSLE now

Have you subscribed to our FREE 2-week PSLE English Boot Camp? Students from Primary 3 and up can benefit from this course.

In the Boot Camp, students will benefit from Videos and Practice Papers on alternating days. The Videos teach vital grammar rules and commonly mistaken word pairs, while the Practice Papers pertain to the key PSLE English Paper 2 components.

Sign up today to receive our FREE 2-week Boot Camp in your inbox daily.

“The habit of writing for my eye is good practice. It loosens the ligaments.”  ~ Virginia Woolf

Freeganism in Singapore

Freeganism is a practice and ideology of limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources, particularly through recovering wasted goods like food. The word "freegan" is a portmanteau of the words "free" and "vegan".

Recently, Channel New Asia (CNA) published a story about 38-year-old Mr Daniel Tay, a self-proclaimed freegan who goes through the trash of others to find items he can eat or use, as a way of life. Reactions from readers ranged from admiration to sheer disgust. 

One might assume participants of the freeganism movement do so for economical reasons. However, some participants do it to make a statement against excessive consumerism and unnecessary food wastage. Others do it for fun. 

This festive season, adopt the freegan's love for sharing. Go through the items you are about to throw away and consider donating those that are still usable to a charity organisation. Every bit counts.

Questions to Consider

1. What does Daniel mean when he says he hopes that in future, "dumpster diving is either normal or obsolete"?
2. Would you become a dumpster diver in Singapore? Why?
3. What can you do as a Singaporean to reduce food wastage?


QUESTION: Should Singaporeans adopt freeganism? 

Yes; if all Singaporeans adopt freeganism, there will be less food wastage. Also, there would be less pollution in the seas, as less plastic would be wasted or discarded. People can also benefit by getting items for free, and not spend more money on purchasing them. By getting things for free, not only do people save the food that are still edible, but people may also be more willing to share with others .
Freegans may also find expensive, valuable items that can still be used -- after all, one man's poison is another man's meat! In the video, Daniel found a working coffeemaker and a telescope during his dumpster dives.

~ Vanessa Teoh, Primary 5

Start preparing for the PSLE this holidays

We are pleased to announce that we have a FREE 2-week PSLE English Boot Camp! In the Boot Camp, students will benefit from Videos and Practice Papers on alternating days. The Videos teach vital grammar rules and commonly mistaken word pairs, while the Practice Papers pertain to the key PSLE English Paper 2 components.

Sign up today to receive our FREE 2-week Boot Camp in your inbox daily.