Block 5 students bring creativity to philosophical deliberation


By Clare Jarmy, Head of Head of Able, Gifted & Talented, Oxbridge, Academic Scholars & PRE

Project-based learning is getting lots of attention at the moment, with films such as Most Likely to Succeed proving highly influential.

Such interdisciplinary, creative approaches are not new at Bedales, though. For nine years, Block 5 Philosophy, Religious Studies & Ethics (PRE) students have studied core topics in the philosophy of metaphysics and mind, and from that, have had to pick one area on which to build a creative response.

We do not stipulate what medium it must be, so students can play to their strengths. We have had many wonderful projects in the past, but for the first time this year, we made the exhibition open to parents and other students as well.

It was a really wonderful evening, one of those occasions that make you hugely proud to work here. What a wonderful bunch of students who have grown up feeling confident to think creatively about such abstract questions, and what a wonderful school to give teachers the space to think of such unusual projects.

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It would be impossible to highlight particular projects without leaving some excellent ones out, but just to give you a couple of examples: Connor Fouhy performed his own Turning Test, to see if audience members could tell which piece of music was written by a machine, and which by Artificial Intelligence. Otto Hall did something similar, texting his friend through a chatbot, to see if the friend could tell. Sasha Arney presented a split-screen video of the lives of a student, and one of the Outdoor Work pigs, which provoked brilliant discussions over JS Mill’s claim that it is better to be a dissatisfied philosopher than a pig satisfied.

Ruby Rose and Maria Timokhina both updated Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, bringing in the role of modern technology to a painting, and film, respectively. Leila Issa thinks that there is no coherent and permanent self, and drew on the work of Galen Strawson, as well as the Buddhist idea of anatta, in her set of films, where she asked her peers and teachers a series of questions every week, and where you could see what they felt and thought changing.

These are just a snapshot of the projects that were exhibited, and we hope to be able to have a small exhibition in Reception next term so those of you who haven’t had a chance to see them can come and view them.