20 March 2023
Tilda, Academic Ribbon
After receiving glowing feedback from club members about our last debating session at Go Beyond, we brought it back last week. Students argued the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with some famous historical quotes, including Epicurus, who believed that "A wise man should not fear death", and Oscar Wilde who claimed "There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are either well written or poorly written. That is all." Members enjoyed developing their listening and critical thinking skills by practising articulating their views whilst detecting flaws in their opponents’ arguments.
During our previous Go Beyond session, we discussed diversity and inclusion in academics - an important topic, as it becomes harmful when we only hear one viewpoint. If you’d like to learn more about this, I’d highly recommend Chimamanda Adichie’s The Danger of a Single Story and Audre Lorde’s The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House. In fact, we can even see the lack of diversity nationally within the school curriculum. A recent study showed that only 7% of GCSE English students study a novel written by a woman, and only 0.1% by a woman of colour.
We talked about the lives of a variety of academics. Imo, Lower Sixth, enlightened us on the poetry of Sappho, a Greek poet she is currently studying. Just as Homer is referred to as "The Poet", Sappho is often called "The Poetess" and is widely regarded as the one of the greatest lyrical poets ever. Not only was she a poet, but also a singer, who performed at important events like births and funerals.
Anja, Lower Sixth, described the work of Viktor Frankl, who was a prominent Jewish psychologist. She is currently reading his most famous novel, Man’s Search For Meaning, which begins with Frankl questioning whether he is a bad person, as he became desensitised to the horrors he faced in Auschwitz. He then explores ideas in existential psychology as he questions his own motivation to survive despite all that he endured. It’s a harrowing tale, but an important one.
Finally, I recounted the incredible life of renowned poet Maya Angelou, who famously said, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style.” Despite growing up in poverty in Arkansas, in a deeply racist and sexist society, she overcame prejudice and is regarded as one of the most influential writers in American literature. But she wasn’t just a poet, she was also an activist who worked with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. If you would like to learn more about her life, I’d highly recommend reading her series of autobiographies, beginning with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.