You can always rely on the regular newsthink emails to provide fresh and insightful stimulation for tutor time.
Sharing opinions, analysing world events, and developing a critical understanding of the media are all things students get better at with regular practice.
"This is a great, school-friendly resource that is challenging and often shocking. It never fails to spark my tutor group's interest in the world around them and it's perfect for doing something exciting and useful in an awkward amount of time."
Sign up to receive newsthink.
Watch the newsthink video.
In the latest edition
©InfoHumanitarian aid workers do not take sides in a conflict. Health workers, for instance, help the injured, whoever they are, according to need. Warring parties agree to let them do their work.
That is the theory. It is also the law. Like military medics, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement uses a protective emblem to mark its workers, vehicles and clinics to show that they offer neutral and impartial assistance. Attacking them is a war crime.
What do students know about the red cross red crescent emblem? Have they seen news coverage of the 150 year anniversary of the Movement? Did anything surprise them? What would they like to know more about?
Mostly, the red cross emblem is respected. But there are concerns that humanitarian workers in Syria are not being protected. Ask students to devise a poster, radio advert or rap on the theme of respect and protect.
©InfoYou are standing on a terrace by a river, watching the fast flowing water. You see what seems to be a body floating past. Then she moves. She is alive. What do you do?
This happened to Stephen Gilbert MP as he stood on the House of Commons terrace. He found a lifebuoy and threw it to the woman. She grabbed it and was rescued further down the river.
How do students think Stephen Gilbert felt? He said the shock had left him “barely able to string a sentence together”. Talk about this reaction. Can students explain in their own words why he felt so disturbed?
Commentators on the online news reports suggested he should have jumped in and tried to save her. Why is this bad advice?
Investigate lifebuoys near water. How confident are students about how to use one? If there wasn't one, what might you use instead?
©InfoMany patients stay in hospital longer than is necessary. Some emergency hospital admissions could be avoided. So says a report from the National Audit Office.
List reasons why being in hospital unnecessarily is bad for patients. Discuss why people who receive the support they need in their own homes tend to stay more independent and recover faster.
Experts say that dignity and self-determination help recovery. Which do you think someone recovering at home would prefer: to have shopping brought, or a meal cooked by a volunteer, or to be helped to go shopping or cook themselves? Explain your answer.
Imagine there's a 70 year old in your street recovering at home from a hip operation. You wonder how they are managing, since they used to be very active. You let someone know you’re going to pay a visit and then knock on their door. You say hello. What do you say next? What do you think they might say?
Previous editions of newsthink
©InfoShould realistic battlefield video games take account of the laws of war? Players could be penalised for using torture, or rewarded for not targeting civilians. Invite students' reactions.
Ask someone who thinks games would be spoilt to debate with someone who thinks the games will become more authentic. Has anyone in the group changed their view?
International lawyers are advising some developers on creating game scenarios that do not reward players for actions that could be war crimes in real life. Did students realise that includes torture during interrogation, deliberate attacks on civilians, killing prisoners or the wounded, and attacks on medical personnel?
Realistic games are played by children and by off-duty soldiers for entertainment. The military also use similar games for training purposes. For which group will learning about the laws of war be most useful? International lawyers are less concerned about medieval fantasy or sci-fi war games. Why might this be?
©InfoTeenagers aged 12 to 15 send on average 255 text messages a week. That's up from 193 last year. What do students think caused this rise? Is it good that people are communicating more?
Twenty years ago no one was texting. How did today's teenagers' parents communicate without texts? Think of three advantages and three disadvantages to a teenager of texting.
Talk about the emergency SMS system for people with hearing loss or speech difficulties. What information would need to go in a 999 text? Check: Who? Police, ambulance, fire and rescue or coastguard? What? Briefly, what is the problem? Where? Give the name of the road, house number, postcode or nearby landmark, if possible
Practise writing emergency texts for made-up scenarios. (Don't text them to 999.) Critique them for missing information. Do students know someone who might value this service? Show them how to register. See http://www.emergencysms.org.uk/
©InfoHalloween fancy dress costumes branded as "mental patient" or "psycho ward" were withdrawn from sale by two well-known supermarkets last month. The stores apologised and offered to make donations to a mental health charity.
Ask students to explain in their own words why people who have experienced mental illness were hurt and disappointed by such costumes.
Invite students to imagine that they are living with an illness. How would it help their recovery to have sympathy, acceptance and support from others? Now imagine an illness that brought rejection, incomprehension and fear. Describe how that might make it harder to get well.
The costumes were widely criticised for encouraging ignorant and hurtful attitudes towards people living with mental illness. Devise an antidote – a publicity campaign designed to promote humanity, compassion and kindness towards anyone who is ill for any reason. What messages work best?
Are emergency vehicles exempt from speed limits and other rules of the road, such as passing red traffic lights? What about volunteer first responders? Solicit opinions then research the answers.
Police, fire and ambulance vehicles attending an emergency are exempt, provided the driver is trained to drive at speed. The government has plans to extend exemptions to other emergency-type drivers – but not volunteer first aiders. Can students guess which?
Confirm that among those under consideration for exemption are bomb disposal teams, blood transfusion, mountain rescue, vehicles transporting human tissue and the forestry commission. Debate and vote.
One potential hazard of speeding is other road users' reactions. Carry out a survey of how people respond to hearing an emergency vehicle. Who knows the advice in the highway code (Rule 219)? Why should drivers not just stop regardless? How might drivers be encouraged to assume that an unmarked vehicle speeding is on a genuine emergency?
© InfoSome serious medical conditions are invisible. People only know about them if they are told or find out. Give two positive and two negative aspects of this invisibility. Evaluate them. Do the negatives outweigh the positives?
People with HIV may find it particularly hard to reveal their status. Discuss the emotional impact of this. People often talk about stigma and HIV. Can students define stigma in their own words?
Researchers are looking into what happens when people living with HIV get older. Talk about how older people might depend on others for hospital appointments, taking medication or personal care. Will that affect who they tell about their status?
Imagine someone in their 60s worrying about the reaction of children, grandchildren and neighbours to the news that they are HIV positive. What would students say to them?
©InfoAutumn term didn't start on time for some school students in west coast USA. What was the unusual reason for the school closures? Invite guesses then reveal the answer – poor air quality caused by smoke pollution.
Invite students to say what they know about the cause of the smoke – one of California's worst-ever wildfires. Who can describe the impact most powerfully in a single sentence?
With a time limit such as a minute, list as many reasons as possible why schools sometimes close. How many are weather related? How many are the actions of humans – such as arson or war?
Reflect, briefly, on the positive side of closed schools. Then concentrate on the downside: you miss your friends, you miss chances to learn. Working in groups agree the three worst disadvantages of a closed school. Then for each one, identify something you could do to make it not so bad.
©InfoLeave aside the political arguments and invite students to list the questions they would like to ask about chemical weapons. Who would they trust to provide impartial and accurate answers?
Chemical weapons are poisons. They have toxins that cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans. Mustard gas, nerve agents and other chemicals can asphyxiate or irritate and blister skin. Why is there such revulsion over their use?
Show the photograph of World War I soldiers affected by gas awaiting treatment. Does it have more emotional power than a photograph of injuries from bullets and bombs? If so, why? Write a caption for the picture.
Do students know Wilfred Owen's poem Dulce et Decorum Est? He invites readers to imagine hearing "the blood/ Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,/ Obscene as cancer..." Does focusing on physical realities affect how people think of warfare?
©InfoPut it under cold running water for at least ten minutes. Give them a non-diet sweet drink or something sweet to eat. Put pressure on it with whatever's available.
Those are recommended responses to three first aid scenarios. Can students identify what situations they are responses to?
These simple everyday messages have been devised because they aren’t too complicated to remember. Are they more straightforward than the first aid that students have learnt in the past? Will students remember these three messages tomorrow? Experts say first aid givers need to be caring and compassionate. Give an example of what that means.
World First Aid Day is on 14 September. Ask students to devise a plan to increase awareness of basic first aid skills on that day.
Answers: cold water for a burn, something sweet for a diabetic emergency and pressure on a wound that's bleeding.
©InfoHazards in war go beyond the direct impact of bombs, missiles and bullets. Household waste piling up in the streets is a danger to health. Ask students to explain. Discuss how disease and parasites thrive on refuse.
Hazards in war go beyond the direct impact of bombs, missiles and bullets. Household waste piling up in the streets is a danger to health. Ask students to explain. Discuss how .
Working in pairs, invite students to imagine what will happen in a hot country over several weeks if electricity and water supplies are cut off and no one collects rubbish.
In areas of Syria such as Rural Damascus and eastern parts of Aleppo, essential services including rubbish collection and electricity and water supplies have failed. Write a text message or status update describing life as if from someone living alongside dozens of other families - in a damaged building, without electricity or water and with flies and the stench from rubbish outside.
In what way is a humanitarian aid worker repairing damaged water supplies in a war zone comparable to an emergency medical worker? Ask students to explain in their own words why they should be protected from attack.