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Tutor profile: Karen O.

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Karen O.
Skilled Student Tutor for Four Years
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Questions

Subject: Study Skills

TutorMe
Question:

To what extent is colour-coding effective in terms of motivating students to study?

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Karen O.
Answer:

I depend very largely on colours when I study.My desk is vibrant with several colours of Post-Its, pens, pencils, highlighters an even tape. Each colour represents a different theme. For example, purple signifies definitions, blue for explanations, pink for evaluations, green for advantages and red for disadvantages. This allows me to compartmentalise my notes and aids memory immensely as recalling information for tests and exams is far more exciting. During a test, if I am asked to evaluate and economic policy, instance, I know I have to refer to the pink, green and red parts of my notes. My colourful Post-Its further highlight my tasks and content. I became acquainted with this method in tenth grade when I had issues recalling Economics. At that point, I was almost obsessed with excelling in Economics as I felt that it was my most practical and applicable of my subjects. I discovered that it was easier to remember the coloured parts of my textbook so I decided that my notes would resemble my textbook. I introduced this method to some of mentees when I became an Academic Peer Mentor and it was grossly successful. I wasn't surprised by the rate of success. Over 85% of the students claimed that the method motivated them to study. Their reminders were coloured, their notes were coloured as well creating a fun incentive to study and finish assignments. Psychologists assert that colours enhance the effectiveness in placebos. A study led by Dr. Kate Lee which tested 150 students by giving them the monotonous task of reading numbers of the screen which stretched their attentiveness found that more of the participants made fewer errors and had overall, better concentration when the numbers are coloured. Using the right colours, selection and placement can seriously affect one's attentiveness and behaviour towards learning. Research has shown that even Alzheimer's patients have experienced an improvement in recalling images and information when colour cues are used. Colours like green, blue and orange have been studied as colours that improve efficiency and focus, increase productivity and improves neural functioning respectively. In essence, colours have a great impact on a student's attitude to studying and learning, thus colour-coding is extremely effective in motivating students to study.

Subject: European History

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Question:

“Bismarck was like the successful conductor of a great orchestra, making all the players work together under his careful direction.” To What Extent Do You Agree with This Statement?

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Karen O.
Answer:

Otto von Bismarck was the conservative Prussian statesman who dominated German and European affairs from the 1860s till 1890. He was appointed Minister-President of Prussia and later became the first Chancellor of the German Empire in 1871. He is a landmark in European history and contributed immensely to modern history. His pragmatic approach to diplomacy earned him many successes on the international scene. He was a master of complex politics at home who created the first welfare state in modern history to gain working-class support. Historian Eric Hobsbawm felt that Bismarck “remained undisputed world champion at the game of multilateral diplomatic chess for almost twenty years after 1871 and devoted himself exclusively and successfully to maintaining peace between the powers.” Despite Bismarck’s clever manipulation of domestic and international politics, I disagree that Bismarck was a successful conductor and all players worked together under his careful direction. In 1875, the Iron Chancellor played on national sentiments against France’s quick recovery from the Franco-Prussian war in 1871. German officers discussed ‘preventive war’ and Bismarck sent delegates to Russia to defend the idea. In what seemed like a foolproof plan, he halted the export of horses to Belgium which was a sign of war and submitting articles to the Herald using pseudonyms; the most notable being ‘Is War in Sight?’. Unfortunately, this seemingly flawless plan backfired as Russia and Britain were very unsettled by the war-like atmosphere in Berlin. Bismarck, eager to remain in the two powers’ good graces, conceded that there was no threat of war. This crisis illustrated that France was not as isolated as Germany assumed as it could utilize Russian and British support. In the early 1870s, Bismarck antagonized the Catholics in what is now called the Kulturkampf. The Catholics in the then newly unified German Empire wanted the Germanic parts of Austria included in a Grossdeutschland. Bismarck saw this as more Catholics opposing the Lutherans of the North. He crafted the problem to be one of national loyalty. He planned on succouring Orthodox Russian against Clericalism. In 1872, Bismarck was forced to change his policy and revoke the May Laws. There was the threat of war from Catholic European states such as Austria, France and Belgium and would have potentially led to France having allies in Europe against Germany. In 1872, Austria’s Franz Josef, Russia’s Alexander II and Germany’s Wilhelm II formed an alliance to preserve the status quo in Europe. This would have been a huge success for Bismarck making Germany One of Three if Russia had not disregarded the terms of the treaty and gone to war against the Ottoman Empire grasping for land to form a client state to be known as Greater Bulgaria. Bismarck decided to take Austria’s side and signed a military alliance known as the Dual Alliance. This induced suspicion from Russia. Tsar Alexander saw it as a “coalition against Russia” and Russian troops were mobilized, gathering on the border of Poland which it shared with Germany and Austria. This led Germany to sign a conflicting treaty with Russia called the Reinsurance Treaty. The two treaties did nothing to solve the problem. The whole incident engendered anti-German feelings in its supposed ally, Russia. It is easy to describe Bismarck’s actions as skilful diplomacy but from a different perspective, he is actually dancing to the beat of two different drums. Bismarck was undoubtedly a skilled statesman and diplomat. He was a good conductor as well, just not always successful. He definitely did not make all the players work together and his direction was sometimes careless. He could not successfully isolate France. He did not find a solution to the Austro-Russian rivalry. He gave way to popular pressure and acquired colonies in Africa and Asia which resulted in a rivalry with Britain. When he left office in 1890, he left behind many complexities that spearheaded a series of cataclysmic events. Rather than conducting a symphony, he conducted a cacophony.

Subject: African History

TutorMe
Question:

What impact did Uthman dan Fodio's Jihad have on the development of Islam in West Africa?

Inactive
Karen O.
Answer:

Prior to the nineteenth century, Islam was just a nominal state religion amongst West African societies. It was used a political and diplomatic tool that did not exist beyond the courts of the monarchs. It was used to fortify trade relations and imperial expansions. Islamic was not practiced as holistically as the Qu'aran dictated rather traditional conventions were still practices regardless of their outright disparity with the Islamic tenets for example, thieves were imprisoned rather than having a hand cut off. This all changed after the success of Uthman dan Fodio's jihad on February 23 1804. Uthman Dan Fodio was the Amir al-Muminim and Sarkin Musulimi of the first Islamic state in West Africa, the Sokoto Caliphate. This served as inspiration for several jihadist movements across West Africa because of its sheer semblance to Prophet Mohammed's jihad in 622 and its execution as a battle for the oppressed. Like Prophet Mohammed, Dan Fodio embarked on a Hijra from Degel to Gudu fleeing from the forces of Sarkin Yunfa of Gobir similar to Prophet Mohammed's Hijra from Mecca to Medina. There he preached, wrote and collected weapons to form an army of the broken and oppressed which made his victory all the more sensational. His scholarly background also consolidated his position as he was a leader in the Sunni Maliki School of Jurisprudence and Qadiri branch of Sufism. Uthman dan Fodio's rebellion for the sake of Allah became widely popular as he successfully established an empire based on the Qu'aranic teaching with an Islamic political and legal system. Though it is criticised as a means to establish a Fulani hegemony in West African, it inspired three other jihads including the Masina Jihad, the Tukolor Jihad and the Modibo Adama Jihad. The extent of his influence was so thorough that it was able to survive French and British Colonialism. There are sixteen countries in West Africa and 9 are established as Islamic Republics, 3 are predominantly Islamic and the other 3 have Islam as one of the main religions. In essence, Uthman dan Fodio's influence is still resounding over two centuries after his rebellion.

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