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Canford Blog

Views from the study

Latest educational and intellectual comment from the Headmaster, senior staff and pupils at Canford School. It includes latest written papers, addresses at assemblies and departmental essays, reflecting the vibrancy and diversity of life at Canford.

Is the enjoyment of school sport worth the risk of concussion?
Henry Baynham Essay Joint Winner 2020 - Toby Bishop (Lower Sixth)

School sport and physical activity have always played a central part of my life. But activity has also caused four episodes of concussion: two sustained from school sport matches and training; two non-sporting episodes - one playfighting with siblings and the other from falling down a cliff whilst on holiday. So, with such high risks present, how should the huge enjoyment from school sports be balanced against these great risks?

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Henry Baynham Essay Joint Winner 2020 - Sophie Hussey (Lower Sixth)

Personally, I have never struggled with the word feminist. Growing up in a lone-parent home, I have been shaped by my mother’s independence. She has taught me not to be apologetic for my own values, and so, in our household the word feminist is never regarded as an insult, rather it is considered as an empowering word in the struggle for women’s equality. The definition for the word feminism is ‘The advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of the equality of the sexes’[1] (from the Oxford English Dictionary). This meaning does not dictate that women have to be the stereotypical ‘man hating’, alternative woman, but instead advocates giving women political, economic, personal and social equality. Essentially, it advocates giving women choice in how they look, feel and view the world. However, throughout the years, the meaning of the word feminist seems to have been distorted. Even with my own choice of this essay title, I have opened myself up to teasing from my peers at school, many of whom seem to have the opinion that ‘feminists’ are men hating ‘femi-Nazis’. This is not just the opinion of boys with whom I have spoken. Many of my female friends are extremely reluctant to use the word, considering that it does not represent their own feelings and opinions on equality.

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C.P. Snow Essay Prizewinner 2020 - Lucy Norris (Lower Sixth)

Communication is "the act of transferring information from one place, person or group to another through a common system of symbols and signs" 1. These symbols and signs come in a variety of forms, including sounds, movements, chemicals and writing, using which animals and humans both constantly communicate. Complexity is "the state or quality of being intricate or complicated" 2 In this essay I am going to look at the different forms of communication and assess whether communication within animals or humans is more complex.

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The importance of English Literature
Richard Redwood, Head of English

Some are born to study great Literature, some achieve by studying great Literature, and some have great Literature thrust upon ‘em.1

Shakespeare understood the power of words. As a wordsmith, he forged many of our great sayings. Without him, our lives would be lacking. With him we can have ‘too much of a good thing’2, we can follow ‘neither rhyme nor reason’3 and learn about our ‘flesh and blood’4.

Nationally, the numbers of pupils studying STEM subjects at A Level are soaring but the numbers taking English are in serious decline. Almost 3,500 fewer pupils sat English Literature A level in 2019 compared to the year before. It seems that the STEM drive is eating us ‘out of house and home’5 and leaving us with a generation of computer-literate mathematically-minded engineers who may be unaware of our great literary traditions.

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Dr Patricia Gibbons - Philosophy & Theology

With the opportunity to construct a course for the Fourth Form within the remit of Philosophy, Ethics and Spirituality, I relished the idea of examining how biblical language and imagery is recycled in our culture.  That modest aim has developed into something more by leading me to examine what purpose such 'recycling' has.

At first I felt it important to give students some exposure to imagery and stories from the Bible itself, as over the years of my teaching career I have seen the amount of residual Bible knowledge that I can assume my students have, decline.  As a Religious Studies teacher that gives me the privileged position of sometimes being the first person to introduce them to certain Bible stories, and I see fresh, and sometimes startling, reactions from them as they encounter the ideas for the very first time.  As a biblical scholar by training, this aspect always fascinates me.

What riches and challenges we have found in our Bible Recycled course!  Not only in giving us a ready-made currency of language to narrate and frame personal aspects of our lives, but it can also help us to reflect on and develop our world-view.  As ever, what I the teacher thought I would bring to the students, has been more than matched by what the students have brought to me in their eagerness and responses.  What a great thing this broad education is!

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Jessye Phillips (Upper Sixth)

Upper Sixth pupil Jessye Phillips is a passionate environmentalist and was inspired to write this spoken word poem following her attendance at the Extinction Rebellion strikes in London in April and march with XR youth, a fridaysforfuture strike in Exeter in April and most recently the Earth Strike in Bournemouth in September. Jessye gave speeches at the latter two and performed this spoken word poem at the recent school Yellow Hour.

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Edward Johnson - Head of Biology

I wanted to speak to you today about the power of groups.  It is great to belong to for example, a community or a team and to feel part of something bigger.

It is fantastic to feel connected to other people, sharing things with them, working together for a common goal and enjoying each other’s company.  Just take a moment to consider what groups you feel part of.  You might feel a strong attachment to the Canford community, a sports team, music group or to your village, county or country. 

But there is a darker side to groups.  When a population is defined not by the things that bind it together, but by the exclusion of others, then it can become very unpleasant indeed.  History provides us with a catalogue of examples of where different groups have been dragged into conflict as leaders have managed to successfully portray some other people as being in some way different, less human and therefore less deserving of rights as those in their own group.

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