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Festival of Ideas 2021 - The Individual in Society

Festival of Ideas 2021 - The Individual in Society
#Explore #Express #Community

How do you fight ignorance?  How can you understand the experiences of a refugee?  Could we build a human?

These are just some of the many topics explored in this year's Festival of Ideas, focused on 'The Individual in Society'.  Over two and a half days before half term, the whole school came off timetable to take time to listen, to learn and to challenge existing thinking about who we are and our place in the world.

We are very grateful to all our visiting speakers who gave generously of their time to support our varied programme of events and workshops.  They included adventurer and writer Charlie Walker who talked of his long distance, human-powered expeditions by bike helping him gain a deeper understanding of remote peoples, Syrian dentist Dr Eiad Zinah who spoke of his experiences as a refugee fleeing to Britain; Cornelia Oosthuizen's journey to become a paralympic elite world class athlete; Zeshan Qureshi's account of first hand experience of racism in the NHS; an impassioned look at the why and the how of climate change by Peter Milne, Founder of Target4Green; Christian broadcaster, writer and speaker Justin Brierley who argued convincingly 'Why God makes sense of humans (and atheism doesn't)' and a talk by BBC Diplomatic Correspondent James Landale on the topic of the individual's relationship with the media. Professor Edward Feil reflected on parallels between the approaches we have used to manage the
Covid pandemic such as social distancing and the vaccine rollout with how social insects (in particular ants and bees) have evolved specific behaviors to limit the risk of infection spreading throughout their colonies and Dr Emily Grossman gave an insight into stem cell research, regenerative medicine and potentially how to build a human.  For the full programme of speakers please click on this link https://issuu.com/canfordschool/docs/festival_of_ideas_2021 

Head of Enrichment and organiser of the Festival, Jamie Ings, explained the rationale behind the festival theme and the positive outcomes he aimed for:

"As humans we seem to be hard wired to be drawn towards people who behave like ourselves. Numerous studies have shown that when presented with a range of equally competent and well qualified candidates, employers will, statistically, lean towards selecting those who see the world as they do. This mirroring, as psychologists refer to it, is a form of validation. The employer is subconsciously looking for employees who will validate their ideas, outlook and world view. The problem is that when all the people in a group think
the same way, it creates collective blindspots. We all have these blindspots in our perspective, and the
challenge with them is that we are rarely even aware we have them until our viewpoint is challenged by
a perspective or opinion beyond our everyday frame of reference. A lack of diversity in the ideas we
consume is dangerous, because we never question our blindspots.

We live in increasingly complex and turbulent times. The modern world is continuously asking new questions of the individual in society. The answers to these questions will not come from closed minded or tribal thinking. The answers will come from listening to and learning from a genuinely diverse range of perspectives. Maybe, just maybe, through our festival the seeds of the ideas that will change the world tomorrow will be sown."

For more information about Enrichment at Canford, please follow this link