24 May 2021
“Is Jo March really a modern-day feminist?” was the subject of Lower Sixth Former Madeleine’s absorbing Thinking Big talk on Friday 14 May. After beginning with the suggestion that, for many, the obvious answer is “yes”, Madeleine knowledgeably delved into both sides of the argument about Little Women’s protagonist, exploring author Louisa May Alcott’s motivation for writing the novel and her correspondence about it, and Jo’s character and actions in the context of her time. She also reflected that many modern day fictional female characters in films are too unrealistic to be useful role models. Madeleine’s well-argued conclusion was that, although Jo may not be a radical reformer and she may not have pushed for change or started a movement, in her oppressive patriarchal society, Jo shows how women can fight against stereotypes, while still leading a normal life.
Two further excellent sessions in our Woldingham Talks series have looked at careers in the humanitarian and climate science sectors. On Tuesday 18 May, Woldingham alumna Issie Cobb (2010), who works for the Norwegian Refugee Council, gave a compelling talk about her work helping shape global humanitarian policy, including field trips she has undertaken in Jordan and Syria, working with Syrian refugees. This was followed on Friday 21 May by a presentation from friend of Woldingham Lucia Watts, who is currently doing a PhD looking at the impacts of climate change on National Trust-owned properties in three different areas of Wales. Lucia led the audience through various sets of Met Office data, including from Woldingham’s nearest climate station at Kenley Airfield. Lucia was very clear that, although the projections to 2080 are concerning, it is fantastic that we have these models to inform us about the actions we need to take.