New Class Stimulates Curiosity & Discussion
Monday January 22nd saw the inaugural session of Off The Beaten Track, with Mr Winter, Head of Ethics, Philosophy and Theology, posing the philosophical challenge ‘Do you see reality?’
Starting with some basic empirical experiments (including ‘shrinking’ our perceptions of the very real Jamie H), pupils from across the Senior School year groups leapt from mind-bending pencils to quantum mechanics in a whirlwind of mental activities orchestrated by Mr Winter with his usual humour and passion. Pupils joined in enthusiastically, debating with each other the ever-receding notion that we could ever perceive ‘reality’.
The following week, the group took off in a different direction - over to the Cloisters building - to battle with the notion of a ‘neutral’ reader. Mrs Bond, Head of English, led the pupils on a journey in which they came to recognise and then challenge the inevitability of their preconceptions when reading. Contexts of time, place and gender were all played with in a number of carefully structured activities designed to make us stop and reconsider the stereotyping each individual brings to a text. Pupils enjoyed dissecting in groups, extracts of texts of different genres. Finally, like the many skins of an onion, they got to build up layers of meaning – leading them shockingly from images of embroidering grannies to those of apocalyptic nuclear war.
Off The Beaten Track is a programme of non-curricular activities at Bishop’s Stortford College designed to encourage pupils to revel in their intellectual curiosity, working together to investigate, challenge, solve and discover, building confidence and creativity through co-operative participation across year groups.
Our thanks go out to both teachers who have rewarded us with such stimulating sessions and food for thought and debate. The programme will be continuing throughout the term.
Dr Cresswell and Mr Barlow