Creative responses to philosophical ideas

By Josh Block, Head of Philosophy and Religious Studies

One of the key aspects of philosophy is the emphasis on having an open mind and being willing to engage with and sometimes embrace a wide range of new and perplexing ideas. As Aristotle put it: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

On this basis, the Block 5 Philosophy, Religi and Ethics (PRE) students are a highly educated lot indeed! This year so far they have encountered thinkers from Plato to Turing, the existence of no world to many worlds, and their reality not being real at all. To say nothing of the ever-topical question of whether AI is about to take over the human race! They have embraced all of this with enthusiasm and the well known Bedalian desire for more, and not necessarily simple, answers.

As part of their BAC assessment the students produced creative responses to a chosen aspect of the areas they had studied. They could choose their topic, media, focus and conclusions with complete freedom – or at least perceived freedom as there was inevitably a mark scheme which had to be followed! But all of this was met with passion and skill; the range of ideas was inspiring, and the means of execution nothing short of mind-blowing.

As nothing I type will actually do the work justice, I will allow as the phrase goes ‘an image to speak a thousand words’. Cast your eye over the images, and if you happen to be the parent or guardian of one of the students involved, please congratulate them and if they haven’t already, ask them to help you entertain new thoughts!

What a week for Utopian thinking…

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

The Utopia Project is the longest-established part of the Bedales Assessed Course in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (PRE) and, as PRE is one of the oldest BACs, it is therefore one of the best established BAC modules. These have been new, different times in which to think about society and utopia, and I am sure that these events will colour how we see the project in the future.

On Wednesday afternoon, Block 5 presented their Utopias to their teachers, and to each other, in an Expo in the Library. Every year, I am impressed with the sophistication of students’ work. The project, for most students, fosters independence in a wholly new way. The Utopia Project is effectively a blank sheet of paper for students to formulate a vision for a perfect world. It is structured for them, and they have to refer to five key texts, but their Utopias can end up being utterly different.

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