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Canford Academic Blog

The Academic Blog highlights the latest thinking from staff and pupils in an academic context.   It includes latest written papers, addresses at assemblies and departmental essays, reflecting the vibrancy and diversity of academic life at Canford.


Is This the Beginning of the Future?

Heretics Paper by Ben Evans (Upper Sixth) 

In Back to the Future part 2, Doc Brown and Marty McFly travelled to October 21st 2015. It’s now November 16th 2018. So, where’s my hoverboard, why don’t my shoes tie themselves? The future always seems to be so far away, and every time there’s a technological breakthrough, people seem less and less amazed. 

Our future will be exciting, and the world we leave will be completely different to the one we entered. We are the ones who are going to change it and I think it’s important that we talk about how our advances may affect us in the long run. 


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Alzheimer's Talk

Aimee Hairon (Upper Sixth)

The number of people living with Alzheimer’s worldwide is growing exponentially and this is putting massive strain on healthcare facilities and resources worldwide. This is not because Alzheimer’s is a new disease but simply because were just living much longer. The human body wasn’t designed to live for 80, 90 even 100 years and the signs of mortality are beginning to show. In the UK Alzheimer’s is the only disease in the top 10 causes of death without any treatments to prevent, cure or even slow the progression. Part of the fear around Alzheimer’s stems from the sense that despite decades of research there’s still nothing you can do about it. So if we’re lucky to live long enough Alzheimer’s seems to be our brains destiny.

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What causes Secularization?

Michael Galley (Lower Sixth)

Secularization is the transformation of a society from close identification and affiliation with religious values and institutions toward non-religious values and secular institutions. In effect, it’s the relegation and compartmentalization of religion into being just one part of life, as opposed to being an all-pervading feature. Religion has dominated societies all over the world for hundreds of years and it hasn’t been until relatively recently, generally speaking, not until at least the twentieth century, that secularization occurred and religion began to lose its tight grip on certain societies.

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Humanitarian Aid - The Myth and the Reality 

Matilda Hubble (Lower Sixth)

I am sure for many of you sitting here that the first thing that pops into your head when I say foreign aid is something like this: western countries sending mountains of supplies to small African children with big round bellies who are starving to death. Celebrities like Bob Geldof and Angelina Jolie going to visit helpless children and telling you through Comic Relief or Children In Need that they need your money to help them. These are our presuppositions when we think of international aid, and I am here to tell you what really goes on behind closed doors.

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Does God have the right to make the rules? 

Helena Jackson (Lower Sixth)

Richard Dawkins once famously said that “When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called Religion”. Mark Twain asserted that “The Bible has noble poetry in it… and some good morals… and upwards of a thousand lies” while Ronald Reagan sat on completely the other end of the spectrum when he insisted that “Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face.”

All three are bold claims, and whether you side with Dawkins and Twain, Reagan, or find yourself somewhere in the grey area of indecision regarding the Bible, there can be no doubt that it’s been one of the most influential and impactful books ever written.

I want to focus on just one core aspect of the Bible’s message: The Genesis account, the crucial issues it raises regarding free will and God’s right to make the rules, and why the rest of the Bible is absolutely dependent on them.

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Milind Khashu (Shells) 

10% of living creatures are vertebrates.  Vertebrates, as opposed to invertebrates, have a skeleton, made of bones. Bones form an important part of all vertebrates’ bodies as they perform many vital functions. Without bones, we would not be able to do many of the things we take for granted.

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Should we be more Roman?

Ned Vessey (Upper Sixth)

Early on in Ridley Scott’s film Gladiator, the main character Maximus tells the Emperor Marcus Aurelius that “I’ve seen much of the rest of the world. It is brutal and cruel and dark. Rome is the light.” A controversial statement. Nonetheless, there is truth in Maximus’ words. For much of its existence, Rome was the predominant world power, a gleaming city of marble to which all roads led.

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Diversity and Difference - a celebration

Hannah Ryan - Head of Support for Learning

2 balloons. Very different balloons - Different colours, different shapes, different origins (one’s from Asda, the other’s from Waitrose), but nonetheless still balloons.  Like my balloons, we humans are different in lots of diverse ways but beneath all that we share a common humanity.

It is not impairments that disable individuals, but society and the environment that create barriers. Once those barriers are removed and a level playing field accomplished, in an ideal world, and I am an idealist, we should all be enabled to achieve and flourish.

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Vital Statistics

Oxford Q-Step Essay competition - Fruin MacKillop-Hall (Lower Sixth)

Now statistics have been around for a very long time, with surviving evidence of an early census being taken in 2AD during the Han Dynasty, but the problem that I see is that people are still associating statistics with mathematics and mathematical areas such as the financial world and its economics. While they are correct, and we do use statistics lots in these areas, it is also true that we use statistics in almost all areas of life whether it be sport, with match analysis and performance tracking, or in medicine, where the probability that a patient may develop side effects from a new drug needs to be calculated.


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Music Through British History

Ellen Harvey-Hills (Lower Sixth)

British music would not be the same without the British monarchy. The monarchs of Britain have shaped the development of British music beyond anything I ever expected, but what I also realised very quickly was that the national identity, which is inextricably linked to music, would not be same without the monarchy. If you wait twelve years for tickets and head down to the Royal Albert Hall for the Last Night of the Proms in 2030 or just watch it in September on the television you’ll understand what I mean. 
Now, one or two of you a probably wondering - what on earth does Rule Britannia, Land of Hope and Glory or Jerusalem have to do with the British monarchy. These are all pieces of music that celebrate Britain as a country, not Britain as a monarchy. Well, hold your horses, because the answer is: quite a lot. 

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The Currency of Language

Dr Patricia Gibbons - Philosophy and Religious Studies

We face a difficulty when we use language, because we need it to stretch in all kinds of directions to say so many things.  The contents of one language is needed to do it all – from expressing feelings of elation, to making abstract thought concrete, to talking about practical things.  It is ordinary language but we need it to do extraordinary things.  The language we use about education matters.  Increasingly, language from the area of Economics is used about education.  Our colleagues in the Economics Department regularly use terms such as customers, market exchange, consumers, commodities, money etc.  It is entirely appropriate to engage those terms concerning the transfer of goods, such as coffee or oil, from one person to another.  Transactions occur when a person wants to secure an item they desire which they do not provide for themselves.  The transaction occurs through the exchange of money for commodity.  The value of the commodity has no intrinsic value but has the monetary worth of what someone is willing to pay for it.  But is the language of Economics appropriate in matter of education, and do the economic ideas and assumptions faithfully portrays the vision of education we hold?

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"The history of the British monarchy is a thousand-year tale of excess, indulgence and abject failure. Discuss." 

By Jessica Allen (Lower Sixth), Winner of the 2018 Canford 'Great Historical Debate'

Ladies and gentlemen. I’m here today to tell you all as to why the millennia of British monarchy is filled not only with excess, indulgence and failure, but also with moderation, success and prosperity. I will not allow this rudimentary question to impinge on our achievements as a country; such as our obsession with tea, scones, and Megan Markle’s role in Suits.

A key historic figure of excess is Richard the Lionheart. We may know him today as the clay statue that stands in the Old Palace Yard in London, but all the glamour of his war efforts is a façade that covers up his obvious failure as a King. Throughout his 10-year reign, he was only present in England for a total of 6 months and spent the rest of his rule crusading in other countries in search of glory. To exacerbate his flaws as a King even further, his capture resulted in him being held to ransom by the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry VI, for 150,000 marks. This fee nearly bankrupted the country and was only made possible through the imposition of very high taxation. Thus, it is clear that Richard the Lionheart’s warmongering was excessive and unnecessary, especially since it came at the expense of his own country’s financial stability. Another monarch whom some may have considered to be as excessive as Richard is James I

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Language Learning

Francisco Compan - Head of French and Spanish

The 1950s and 60s saw the start of a truly remarkable revolution. I am not talking about hippies and the flower-power but about a revolution in the field of linguistics that would change our perception of language learning and language acquisition forever. The advances in Cognitive Science made it possible to study the human capacity to generate language and how we use it to communicate.  

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Nature v Nurture

Junior Heretics Paper by Frances Fleming (Fourth Form)

Since the beginning of psychology as a science, one debate has divided professionals, and that is the debate of nature versus nurture.  This question is important for us, because the findings of the psychologists that have pondered it have shaped our education system for hundreds of years, and will probably continue to reform it in the future.

Do you think that you are who you are is because of the way you were raised – or your genetics? The truth is, it is not entirely one way or the other. When psychologist 
Donald Hebb was asked which contributes more to personality, nature or nurture, he answered, "Which contributes more to the area of a rectangle, its length or its width?" But it may be weighted in one direction, and it is important to know which, because knowing can influence teaching and improve results across schools, and answer some important ethical questions.

Essay in full

Has Rap replaced Poetry?  

Heretics Paper by Kacper Kazaniecki (Upper Sixth)

According to Forbes Magazine and a Nielsen Music report as of July 2017, R&B and Hip-Hop is the biggest music genre in the United States with 25.1% of all music consumption. In fact, R&B/hip-hop is almost as popular on streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music as the next two genres (rock and pop) combined. Although these are the statistics for the U.S. a very similar trend can be observed in the U.K and also worldwide. Therefore there is no doubt that it has a profound influence on our society as well as being an insightful reflection of it.

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Inspiration Matters - On Balance

Dr Patricia Gibbons - Philosophy and Religious Studies

Have you ever tried standing on one leg?  If you are Rob helping me marshal the House Cross-Country course, or part of my U6 Philosophy class you have!  It is a bit of T’ai Chi, or preparation to be a karate kid, or practice to help walk the tight-rope at the Climbing Centre.  Physical balance, so I have found is something that needs practice.  In the outer world, so in the inner world.  What do I mean?  To be totally present in one’s body, focussing fully in order to balance is a great exercise.  And so too, is finding balance in one’s inner world – in your thoughts and self-understanding.  What does this mean?  Well, I’m reading a lot about Carl Gustav Jung, an early psychologist at the beginning of the twentieth century.  His psychology is all about balance – about getting in touch with the various aspects on oneself, giving them each their due and finding balance.  

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