Category Archives: Arts & Culture

New Year, New Team

GLOBUS: A Letter from the Editor-in-Chief
1st January 2018

To all our readers, old and new,

First of all, allow me to wish you all a very happy, and prosperous, New Year. I hope that, this time next year, we will be able to look back at one that has well and truly moved on from the relative gloom of 2017.

And what a year it has been! Donald Trump (need I say more?), the advent of Brexit negotiations, escalating tensions in the Middle East, North Africa, and on the Korean Penninsula… and that’s just to skim the surface. As a student of Global Sustainable Development, what perhaps stands out most to me is the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement – an event that, I believe, most in the field have viewed with a feeling of despair.

What I would like to express today, however, is hope. The defiance of all other signatories to the Paris Agreement is, to continue the theme, perhaps the best example of this. We have the tools to fight the problems of our time; with such winds of global change blowing, and with people more than ever before fighting for their rights, their livelihoods, and their world, perhaps now is the time that we will see them used.

It is into such a context that I, and my new GLOBUS team, step into our roles this New Year. I would like to take a moment to thank last year’s team for their work, and to wish them luck as they move on to exciting new parts of their lives – with the majority of the team moving this term and next to Australia or Malaysia, to study at the University of Monash as part of their Global Sustainable Development courses.

This year, we’ve got a huge variety of exciting new projects we’ll be looking to launch. Already, the GLOBUS team is involved in an outreach project with the Sutton Trust, working with a variety of ages on projects examining aspects of food sustainability, championed by staff from the School for Cross-Faculty Studies, the home department of all members of our GLOBUS team. This month, on January 26th, we will be having our landmark online relaunch event, followed up on February 2nd. Both events will see a variety of new content released, so be sure to check in here, or on our Facebook or Twitter pages @GlobusWarwick, to keep up.

Later in the year, we hope to be hosting some all-new events – plans for those are currently in the works, and I’m really looking forward to sharing that news with you all. I would also like to welcome in particular members of our new team from the Liberal Arts degree programme, who we look forward to working with to expand our perspective, and develop further our understanding and programme of content.

If you would like to get involved in writing, or producing other content (podcasts and videos are inbound!), for or with GLOBUS, or you would like to get involved with our GLOBUS team, please do get in touch via the contact form on our ‘About Us’ page, or directly with me at editor@globuswarwick.com.

All that remains for me to do is to thank you all for your continued support of GLOBUS; I hope that you will all enjoy engaging with our publication in the coming year, and find it insightful, stimulating, and most importantly -global.

 

All the best,

171230 Signature

GLOBUS Editor-in-Chief, 2018

How I fell out of love with education – The Alternative (2/2)

by Arifa Akther

What are the alternatives?

If you read the first part of this piece, you’ll know some of the problems with the current education system including: standardised testing, reduced funding for the Art’s programmes and the pressure on teachers. So, what can be done/ has been done to address these issues?

Firstly, we need to allow children to be children. Islamically, the teachings state that for the first seven years are to be allocated to allow the child to play. But most children are in formal education by the age of 6, with years in pre-school before that. The consequence? Potentially stunting our children’s spiritual and emotional growth. Hanson analysed many western child development psychologists’ work studying the effects of early academic education interfering with a child’s emotional development. A 5 year old child views the world differently, they cannot distinguish between the imaginary and reality. To them, their garden can very well be the Amazon Rainforest. They simply won’t view the garden they way you see it. Thus, when yelling at them because they can’t identify a paint brush as such, but instead as a wand which can summon tigers from Asia (the family house cat) can cause them to “feel angry and confused” and later in life unable to think in the abstract.

Between the age of 5 to 7 the child starts to rationalise until the age of 7 when there is now a clear split. Hence why in Islam it is incorrect to punish a child before the age of 7 as they have “no intellectual capability to understand right from wrong… therefore the punishment will not serve as justice but instead likely to leave emotional wounds”. These years are therefore meant to focus on “laying a strong emotional foundation that will serve them well throughout their life” by playing games that build their ability to empathise with others. So, if they play via acting as a: mother, talking horse, a poor child in the street or an elderly man, they learn how to step in the shoes of another. By neglecting this aspect of the childhood and instead sitting in class to practice their handwriting, you end up with an entire generation who are uncompassionate to others. Through no fault of their own. Therefore, I would like to see pre-school last until the age of 7, focusing on arts, crafts, creative play and sports. Finland has this exact system in place.

Finland has children starting formal education later but also has:

  • Shorter school days with no homework- so students can disconnect and have time to focus on hobbies and physical fitness.
  • Open text book exams- children learn how to navigate through our information revolution rather than regurgitate information.
  • Topic learning- has recently been introduced so you can see how all subject interconnect.

 

On top of it all, being a teacher is one of the most respected professions and are paid appropriately for their contribution to society. Finland encourages collaboration over competition and as a result outperforms every other country. I would like to see more of Finland’s education system replicated universally.

Ken Robinson explains how children are natural learners and are very diverse, but the current system is “not about encouraging diversity but enforcing conformity, to find out what kids can do in a very narrow spectrum.” Sal Khan, discusses about how we need to “teach for mastery.” In this aspect, Khan emphasises how throughout school, we cover a topic, do a topic test, then move onto the next topic. In doing so, we never really cover the topic in full. Take for example in Chemistry, we cover Kinetics, and we get 85% in the exam. You have 15% of knowledge that’s incorrect, but you never truly fix it. In the next topic, about haloalkanes you gain 65% in that exam, now you’re missing 35% of that knowledge. We then repeat this process until we are at an advanced point in that subject that no longer makes sense due to that missed understanding that should have been taught fully beforehand. To put it in context, imagine if you were building a house. The foundation passed the inspection and received 85%. You then went and built the first floor, which by inspection received 65%. As you continue to build, at one point, the building will collapse due to the faults on the previous floors. No one would build on a foundation only 85% secure. You would complete it until it is 100% safe. So the alternative would be to teach for mastery. Once a topic is completed, for students to work together to fully understand 100% of the topic before moving on.

Crayon

Finally, if we run through other alternatives provided by “educational pioneers”:

Francisco Ferrer– “planned to establish a curriculum based on the natural sciences and moral rationalism, freed of all religious dogma and political bias. Although students were to receive systematic instruction, there were to be no prizes for scholarship, no marks or examinations, indeed no atmosphere of competition, coercion, or humiliation. The classes, in Ferrer’s words, were to be guided by the “principle of solidarity and equality.” Instruction was to rely exclusively on the spontaneous desire of students to acquire knowledge and permit them to learn at their own pace. The purpose of the school was to promote in the students “a stern hostility to prejudice,” to create “solid minds, capable of forming their own rational convictions on every subject.”

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Dr. Maria Montessori– “is a child-centred educational approach based on scientific observations that children are naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child—physical, social, emotional, cognitive via: mixed age classrooms, Student choice of activity from within a prescribed range of options, Uninterrupted blocks of work time, ideally three hours with a trained Montessori teacher who follows the child and is highly experienced in observing the individual child’s characteristics, tendencies, innate talents and abilities.” This method is exceptional for the fact that, education is proposed to be the process to create employable adults, however when applying for job- are we only competing with people our age for a position? Do we only work with people of our age? If so, my colleague Sarah will be happy to know she is no longer 54 but 20 like me!

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A.S Neil in Summerhill– “an influential model for progressive, democratic education around the world. Summerhill is the oldest children’s democracy in the world. It is probably the most famous alternative or ‘free’ school. The system that Summerhill employs is not only about education – it is also a different way of parenting which eliminates most of the friction and many of the problems experienced by modern families.” A similar school exists in Nepal, called Ashram orphanage which took in a young boy from age 3, and by the age of 22 received his PHD in Physics in Germany.

Steiner- created Waldorf Schools which “pedagogy emphasizes the role of imagination in learning, striving to integrate holistically the intellectual, practical, and artistic development of pupils. Steiner’s division of child development into three major stages is reflected in the school’s’ approach to early childhood education, which focuses on practical, hands-on activities and creative play; to elementary education, which focuses on developing artistic expression and social capacities; and to secondary education, which focuses on developing critical reasoning and empathic understanding. The overarching goal is to develop free, morally responsible, and integrated individuals equipped with a high degree of social competence.”

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Home-schooling– Is a very real possibility, allowing your child to focus on themselves and develop in a safe environment rather than a competitive one. However, with both parents in work for households around the globe and mothers in developing countries poorly educated I would argue in favour of funding and creating new progressive, “creative schools”. I also favour the socialisation between children. From personal experiences, although there are consequences of “forced socialisation” including exposure to drugs, smoking and pornography- all this would also occur during their part time job at the age of 16. I believe instead, to teach about finding fulfilment in family and hobbies that prevent them turning to the alternatives for stress relief/pleasure. I also believe that by spending time with new people, developing mutually respective friendships having to interact with people you don’t necessarily like but seeing their view on things is more beneficial than without. Also, as I can see the very real potential in what school can become, I would argue in favour of these schools rather than the home environment if for anything, to disconnect the home from academia so when at an older age you can truly “turn off” to rest your mind from rigorous academic work. This is why you shouldn’t revise in your bedroom. You need to dissociate one from the other even in subtle contexts such as the room you carry out an activity. But for many it’s easy to see why home-schooling is the better option, especially in the short term when “creative schools” don’t exist. But this must be done with careful and consistent action as the latest figures show how “92 percent of superintendents believe that home learners are emotionally unstable, deprived of proper social development and too judgemental of the world around them, according to a California study by researcher Rd. Brian Ray.”

Séparateur

In conclusion there is no single solution to be implemented to help better educate the next general. It is a process and measurements are needed to protect the mental and physical health of our children. Let’s allow them to fall in love with learning. And the previous generations to fall back in love with learning just as I have. However, I have fallen out of love with our education system, and I can do my best to try to change the system for future generation to get back to the roots of real education, which allows and even encourages fish to swim not climb trees.

For all references please follow the link here.

 

REFERENCES
“A. S Neill’s Summerhill School.” A.S Neill’s Summerhill School.  http://www.summerhillschool.co.uk/. Web. 28/08 2017.
“Introduction to Montessori Method.” American Montessori Society.  https://amshq.org/Montessori-Education/Introduction-to-Montessori. Web. 28/08 2017.
“Is the Education system Obsolete?” “https://Www.Booksie.Com/481510-Is-the-Educational-System-Obsolete.”  2016.  https://www.booksie.com/481510-is-the-educational-system-obsolete. Web. 28/08 2017.
“Studies Show Normal Children Today Report More Anxiety Than Child Psychiatric Patients in the 1950’s ” American Psychological Association 2000.  http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2000/12/anxiety.aspx. Web. 01/09 2017.
“Waldorf Education.” Wikipedia.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waldorf_education. Web. 28/08 2017.
Bookchin, Murray. “About Francisco Ferrer.” The Modern American Poetry 2013.  http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/scw/ferrer.htm. Web. 30/08 2017.
Butler, Patrick. “No Grammar Schools, Lots of Play: The Secrets of Europe’s Top Education System.” https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/sep/20/grammar-schools-play-europe-top-education-system-finland-daycare. Web. 28/08 2017.
Coughlan, Sean. “Student Suicide Figures Increase.” BBC 2016.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-36378573 Web. 28/08 2017.
Ellie, Widdowson. “At Breaking Point: Why Are Young People More Stressed Than Ever?”  http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/ellie-widdowson/young-mental-health_b_8574520.html. ington Post 2015. Web. 02/09 2017.
Elliot, Larry. “Millions of Uk Workers at Risk of Being Replaced by Robots, Study Says.” The Guardian 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/mar/24/millions-uk-workers-risk-replaced-robots-study-warns. Web. 30/08/17 2017.
Garner, Richard. “Education Secretary Nicky Morgan Tells Teenagers: Want to Keep Your Options Open? Then Do Science.”  2014. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/education-secretary-nicky-morgan-tells-teenagers-if-you-want-a-job-drop-humanities-9852316.html. Web. 27/08 2017.
Haverluck, Michael F. “Socialization: Homeschooling Vs. Schools.” CBN 2007.  http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2007/may/socialization-homeschooling-vs-schools/?mobile=false. Web. 30/08 2017.
Higgins, Charlotte. “Arts Funding Cut 30% in Spending Review.” The Guardian 2010.  https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2010/oct/20/arts-cuts-spending-review-council. Web. 28/08 2017.
John Taylor Gatto, Hamza Yusuf Hanson, Nabila Hanson, Dorothy Sayer. Educating Your Child in Modern Times. Kinza Academy, 2010. Print.
Mintz, Jerry. “Alternative Higher Education Pioneers, Bringing Them Back to Life!” TedxTalks Bergen 2013.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwqdcSwznTY. Web. 29/08 2017.
Pedro. “Devil’s Advocate. A Plea against Prince Ea (Casper hulshof).” The Economy of Meaning 2016.  https://theeconomyofmeaning.com/2016/10/13/devils-advocate-a-plea-against-prince-ea-casper-hulshof/ . Web. 29/08 2017.
Savage, Michael. “Almost a Quarter of Teachers Who Have Qualified since 2011 Have Left Profession.” The Guardian 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/jul/08/almost-a-quarter-of-teachers-who-have-qualified-since-2011-have-left-profession. Web. 29/08 2017.

 

How I fell out of love with education (1/2)

by Arifa Akther

“The paradox of education is that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which (s)he is being educated” – James Baldwin

I got lucky with education. First and foremost, I had parents who never studied further than GCSE standard, my mother married before she completed her O-Levels exams. As a result, both were adamant to give me and my siblings the best education. Secondly, my father worked incredibly hard and created a highly profitable business in which he chose to send me to private school rather than spending it on buying a Ferrari. From a young age they both encouraged me to study hard. They went as far as setting homework for us, consisting of store bought handwriting books and learning the times tables off by heart before the age of 8.

In all honesty, I fell in love with learning, to the point of being called “try-hard” as if it were some derogatory term for having tried my best in every exam I sat. Knowing facts and getting high scores in all my classes gave me a much-needed confidence boost. I was great at finding information, memorising it and regurgitating it in exams and this method worked for me all the way through from primary school to my GCSE’s where I attained 7A*’s and 2A’s. Despite this, I stumbled during my A-levels as it wasn’t the case of learning and regurgitating anymore, but using information and applying it to questions. However, due to the current system, you had even more content to memorise and less time to practice questions. This was the case with A-Level Biology, where teaching all the content meant we had no revision time in class. The exam questions, by contrast, were all applied science questions which we had no time to practice in class. Geography was the biggest leap: with memorising information to the analysis of that information and applying it to real world context. Even though Geography was the biggest setback in my A-levels, I realised that it was the subject that really tested the important aspects of a 21st-century-student. The ability to extract information, analyse its social, economic, environmental and political influence then to suggest a real solution to the current problems facing our world today. After resitting, I was accepted by the University of Warwick to study Politics, International Studies and Global Sustainable Development (PAIS + GSD).

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© Camille François

During my first-year at university, I only completed core modules. Nonetheless, the freedom to choose what I studied further in those modules is my favourite aspect of higher education. In my summative assessments I attained 1sts as well as in my oral presentations. In my exams I achieved 2:1 resulting in me achieving a high 2:1 overall, pulled down due to the politics exams. Despite the fact I had written 4 formative assessments in which I achieved a first overall, the Politics department decided to make our year grade 100% dependent upon our performance during the summer exams. I achieved 65% and a 1st in GSD. During the week running up to my exams, as I sat amongst the other thousands of students in the library memorising the exact answer I would regurgitate when asked “what makes a revolution?” for my Introduction to Politics module, that’s when I realised even at uni, it’s a case of being back to GCSE, and memorising information to regurgitate under exam conditions.

An outdated system.

This system of education is outdated. The 150-year-old compulsory state education system’s linear development to the current British education system has become one which has destroyed creativity, individuality and resulted in normal children today reported to have more anxiety than child psychiatric patients in the 1950s, studies show. The source of the problem is how the current system prepares students to be effective workers who aid the industrial revolution in the 19/20th century and claims it “prepares students for the future” when it is no longer appropriate for the 21st century.

Dr.Inglis broke this down into “6 purposes of modern day schooling” including:

1.  Adjustment– “Schools establishing fixed habits of reaction to authority- precluding critical judgement completely.”

2.   Diagnostic function– School determining each child’s social role.

3.  Sorting function– Schools sorting children by training them for that specific social role.

4.  Conformity– making children to be alike as possible, to assist markets as people who conform are predictable.

5.  Hygienic function– School is there to accelerate Darwin’s theory of natural selection by identifying those most “unfit for education” so clearly via displayed exam grade, “bottom set classes” and D grades results- enough to make them drop out of the system, accepting the school’s judgement of their inferiority to others of their age.

6.  Propaedeutic– where a fraction of children- eg those in the “gifted and talented schemes” to be taught how to take over management schemes to perpetuate this system naturally.

John Taylor Gatto, links the “Hygiene function” to Julius Caesar’s “Divide and Conquer” strategy – “by dividing children by school class, age grading, by constant ranking on tests and many other more subtle divisions from one another and one’s own self; the ignorant mass of mankind, divided in childhood would never re-integrate into a dangerous united whole in adulthood.” Poor Marx didn’t see this preventing his workers to unite against the Bourgeoisie.

Due to the rise of technology, Artificial Intelligence and global competition, the future is one no one could have foreseen. Most jobs are estimated to be replaced with robots within 15 years. What we need to do, is stimulate creativity, innovation, ingenuity and human culture. What makes us human? Well, I believe this consists of our ability to debate, create art and music as well as performing theatre. Currently art is facing the biggest loss of funding (-30%)  due to the Conservative’s policy, who would rather keep up this factory farm of graduated students with the same level of Maths, English and Science skills without any investment in new careers of the future in renewable energy or coding etc.

No, instead, we keep the same setting for education. In a seat, for 8 hours a day, with a lunch break being taught what to think (not how) and raise your hand if you want to speak whilst rushing to get every note on the whiteboard copied onto your book. This way, you can complete your homework properly at night because clearly, 8 hours in school isn’t enough time that a child should spend on education. No they need 10-12 hours of studying and 8 hours of sleep meaning 4(/6) hours to: socialise, do sports, do extracurricular activities such as drama, help their parents at home, have a part time job, volunteer, eat, shower and of course, relax. Is it any wonder why suicide rates are at “their highest level since at least 2007, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. These figures – for 2014 – show 130 suicides in England and Wales among full-time students aged 18 or above.” Oh, and even if you do all of that, keep up and complete all your work, you actually have to do BETTER than everyone, as the marking system is on a curve- only a set amount of people can attain an A grade. Brilliant.

With most people unable to attain the top grades, after having sacrificed so much of their time that should have been distributed to sports, socialising and unwinding we now face problems with obesity pandemics to staggering mental health issues. “Whilst depression has long been the main culprit of mental health problems on campus, levels of anxiety have skyrocketed in recent years to become the number one health concern among students. While nearly one-third of students say they felt depressed during their first year, nearly fifty percent felt intense anxiety to the point that it interfered with their studies and their ability to concentrate.”

All about exams.

Let’s take my example of 7A*s and 2As. This shows I’m smart, right? I’m able to take on information, and give the right answer to a given question. I got 3 As at A level- ok, now I’m able to take on information, analyse it and give the correct answer in a given context, better than most other students because we all sat the same exam, in the same time (equal even if you needed extra time), having learnt the same syllabus. All of these measures have been put in place due to policy makers obsession with standardised tests, except it doesn’t take into account anything that really matters in a student. It doesn’t show how hard you worked – topics could have just worked in your favour. Or, against. Of the 4 topics that were on the paper out of 10 you learnt, two of the topics you struggled with the most appeared and it means you struck out. It doesn’t show how creative you were in your answers. It doesn’t show how you work in a team. It doesn’t show how apathetic you are. It doesn’t show how many languages you can answer the question in. Mr. Frederick J Kelly, inventor of the standardised tests even went onto state how “these tests are too crude to be used and should be abandoned”.

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Einstein famously said

“everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Any parent with two children will be able to tell you just how differently they learn. And any teacher, that same fact on an industrial scale. Yet, we don’t account for this difference. And what’s worse, is that we reduce some subjects to be of less worth than others. Let’s take for example science. Science was the first subject I fell in love with. I could name most of the human body bones before Secondary School and the planets in our solar system, from their distance to us to describing their surface conditions. Science has an exceptional importance to our society, it is the subject that helps to cure diseases, grow crops, produce clean energy and create super materials which all have vast benefits for our society. However, our obsession with science has led to a negative attitude to anything which isn’t categorised as a STEM subject. Or even, God-forbid you decide not to go to University at all and enrol in an apprenticeship scheme or work from the bottom, up in any company, or even start your own business. With the education minister Nicky Morgan saying you shouldn’t take arts/humanities subjects to children AGED 10 as “it will hold them back for the rest of their lives” in gaining high earning careers. Ah yes, the main aspect of careers we should emphasise to our children. I’m not going to go on about how money doesn’t matter at all, because obviously that’s a lie- but a job as a history teacher? UN Translator? Nurse? Driving instructor? They don’t make millions but they are of indispensable value to society. What happened to education, for education’s sake? Wasn’t the original point of education meant to be a system in which a child homes in on their strengths and talents, even interests- develop them and achieve their dreams – regardless of the income they’ll be earning in a decade’s time?

What exactly are we competent in after our A Levels? How tax works? How to debate? What non-cognitive skills have we attained? Courage? Honesty? Independence? I don’t think so. Lubberly discusses how childhood has been deliberately extended by 4 years through this current process. “Denying children, a range of associations with the complex adult world, and a dose of responsibility” resulting in a successful economy founded on upon, essentially a “dumb, dependent, fearful and incomplete population.” Hear me out, the current state education system can only encourage critical thinking to a certain extent. Too much of it would result in the breakdown of the economy. For example, you can think critically about how the solution of a sea wall as opposed to a dam would be a better flood defence. That’s fine. Think critically about Steinbeck’s use of foreshadowing in “Of Mice and Men”. That’s fine. Think critically about the banning of medical marijuana which could potentially alleviate depression patients’ dependency on pharmaceutical pills- woah woah woah, a few steps back please. Gatto supports this, stating how schools can’t “encourage reliable morality because too many components of our economy depend upon slackness in this regard, from cigarettes, fast cars, and dirty pictures”. As a result, “young people would grow old but never grow up.”

And what’s worse than the way students are educated? The way teachers are treated.

The latest figures show how teachers are leaving the profession in drones, with “almost a quarter of teachers who have qualified since 2011 have left profession.” Can you blame them? Teachers are the most underpaid and underappreciated people in the workforce. They have the responsibility to educate entire generations and people have the audacity to say, “but they have long holiday hours” … except they have to use their holiday hours planning lessons, so called “after hours” during term time to mark work and sacrifice time with family to act as supervisors during visits and extracurricular trips. Teachers are now in charge of meeting “targets” leaving them incredibly stressed when they have certain students who are so disconnected to the current education system refuse to “meet their potential” when in reality, they weren’t going to in the manner the school wanted them to do so. A teacher is responsible for getting information to a child to prepare them for an exam, when they have class sizes breaking max restrictions due to government funding, it is easy to see why most students don’t get the education I received. Class sizes at A-levels were maxed to 14, preferably never over 12 in the school I attended. Meaning real one-on-one interaction and that teachers were able to truly engage and inspire students to learn, witnessing their interest and passion for the subject. But no, instead we are stuck with policy makers who seem to be trying their best to enforce a curriculum through outdated teaching methods without ever having stood in front of a classroom to teach. I’d really like to see Michael Gove stand in front of the bottom set maths class and get them to engage with the curriculum including vectors… the entire system needs a switch up. Maths has the ability to develop real problem-solving skills through problem-based learning. Instead, we force students to memorise all the equations to answers questions in the exams because we still examine under conditions that assume you will not have access to that information at the tips of your fingers.

What we need to do is reinvent education. Teach students how to deal with large quantity of information, extract facts, confirm it, and apply it so we have a generation who are resourceful. If we fail to address these issues, we will fail the next generation of students who will be forced through the same system of standardisation, destroying any creative or innovative potential they have to offer society.

How I fell out of love with Education – The Alternative (2/2)

Exploring Europe: Boulogne-sur-Mer, France

by Florentyna Syperek

The first time I walked down (and sadly, up) the cobbled streets of Boulogne-Sur-Mer, it was the summer of 2012, and my mum and I were hitchhiking through Europe with massive backpacks. This was one of our first stops after getting off the ferry, more by chance than by choice, mainly due to Boulogne’s proximity to the nearest motorway. The heat was pouring down from the sky, we got off at the wrong train station, and we were forced to walk in circles. So, all I remember from my first visit is a view of a basilica towering over the city, a strange, yet adorable house with dog sculptures above the windows, and heat. My goodness, the heat. And the sunburn. Word of advice: never forget to apply sunscreen to feet.

Thus, it was only when I returned to the region 3 years later with both my parents (and yes, sunscreen), that I was able to see and appreciate what Boulogne has to offer.

Vieille Ville

Complete with a basilica, historic walls and a castle, it is the Old Town of Boulogne which is the highlight. Full of lively pedestrian streets lined with antique shops, artist studios and bookshops, those who enjoy window-shopping will love wandering around, and admiring the imaginative window displays and pretty paintings. You will also find tiny cafes and patisseries with delicious French treats – their outdoor seating spills out onto the cobbled streets themselves, which makes for an ideal spot for lunch and people watching. In the evenings, the Old Town comes to life with colourful lights, laughter and music from local restaurants.

On the square located in the middle of the Old Town is another attraction. Every time I’ve visited Boulogne, there was a different garden installation on show, each year based around a different theme. In 2015, visitors could explore a garden of 7 Deadly Sins, each of which was cleverly represented by plants, sculptures and various symbols – some phallic, some not, although Lust did have the largest display, which included some disturbingly imaginative Mediaeval illustrations. This year the theme is tamer, with the 5 senses being represented in the garden, so you can safely go there with family members.

Surrounding the Old Town are the 13th century walls, which stretch for over one kilometre and provide visitors with stunning panoramic views of the city, as well as the sea. As a GSD student I was especially excited to catch a glimpse of the offshore wind turbines! The walls are also great if you want to escape the livelier streets or hide in the shade, but beware – the gates are closed at night!

Cathedral and crypt

Inspired by the Classical and Renaissance styles seen on St Paul’s Cathedral, the domed Notre Dame Basilica tower can be seen from most places in the city, due to its impressive size (101 metres) and a strategic hillside location in the Old Town. Luckily, during the early 1920s, when reconstruction work had to be conducted after the nave’s arches collapsed, the entire building was reinforced with concrete, allowing the basilica to withstand the bombings the city experienced during World War II.

Interestingly, one of the places with a great view of the magnificent basilica is a small laundrette located in a side street, next to one of the Old Town’s stone gates. This is great for backpackers – you can leave your laundry there while you go and explore the Old Town! It’s also very coming-of-age movie set, so there’s another photo opportunity for those craving likes.

However, it’s what’s hidden beneath the ground that I consider a real treasure, although one to be admired while wearing an extra layer of clothing, even in the middle of summer; Underneath the basilica one can visit an ancient crypt, the longest one in France (over 100m long), which has only been re-opened to the public in the spring of 2015. Some of the rooms found in the crypt go as far back as Roman times, when the city was a strategic military location for Julius Caesar. The walls and ceilings are adorned with beautiful paintings of patterns and Saints. Amongst the impressive collection of religious art on display in the crypt, one can find a precious enamel relic, which is said to contain the blood of Christ. Interestingly, the items on display in the crypt also include cannonballs, which were fired by Henry VII during the siege of Boulogne in 1544! The crypt is certainly a fascinating and unique place to visit.

Beach and Nausicaá

Gambetta-Sainte-Beuve, which is the tourist area along the large sandy beach, is a great place for a walk on the promenade or a break with some ice cream. If the weather is good, and you fancy a break from all the sight-seeing, you can go sunbathing or swimming.  The market (one of the many markets in the area*), which takes place on weekends, is also worth a visit; If you’re looking for fresh, local fish, fishermen set up stalls near the harbour every morning. Free parking and proximity to the rest of the city are a big plus.

Boulogne-sur-Mer is located in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of Northern France on the Côte d’Opale. Like with most French destinations in the North, it is mostly visited by French tourists, although during our visit we also spotted many school groups from across the Channel. It is a refreshing change from the hordes of noisy tourists found in the more popular tourist destinations in the South. Nicknamed the Capital of the Opal Coast, Boulogne is a holiday spot for those who are seeking a more intimate cultural experience, with plenty of empty, beautiful beaches nearby. Charles Dickens was said to be a fan (there’s even a rue Charles Dickens in the Old Town), and we all know that those Victorians knew how to have fun. Arrive with great expectations – you won’t be disappointed!

This article is the first in the Exploring Europe Series, where I will explore various European destinations. I will look at both more popular cities, as well as introduce you to the less popular places, hopefully inspiring you to travel around Europe.


* A full list of markets in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais area can be found on the Euro Tunnel website.

Cultural Sustainability: What is the Role of UNESCO?

 by Luca Niccolai

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is an intellectual agency of the United Nations, created in 1945, as a response to international conflict. It is believed that morals and solidarity are needed to achieve peace among nations. Therefore, UNESCO’s aim is to build intercultural understanding through the protection of heritage, and support of cultural diversity. UNESCO also works on improving access to quality education, sharing knowledge and improving scientific research.

UNESCO created the idea of a World Heritage not only to protect sites of outstanding universal value, but also to encourage cultural awareness and communication, believed to be essential bases to achieve sustainable development. Curiously enough, culture does not appear in any of the Millennium Development Goals, and more recent Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), despite UNESCO being part of the same institution that created them. The only SDG UNESCO’s work could be linked to is Goal 17: Partnership for the Goals, as UNESCO insists on the necessity of common action to achieve sustainable development. The latter is argued to only be achievable through good communication and understanding, hence the importance of culture. The campaign #campaign2015goal has advocated for the inclusion of culture in the SDGs, and over 1,900 signatories including 700 organizations have endorsed their declaration on the inclusion of culture in the SDGs.

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So why is UNESCO’s work on culture important to us?

On their website, UNESCO explains that we must create holistic policies, which must address every aspect of sustainable development. The agency argues that in an interconnected world, intercultural dialogue is essential, as we live together and aim to deliver a common action to achieve sustainable development. Therefore, it is vital to acknowledge our diversity, as not all solutions are appropriate for every situation. Furthermore, UNESCO explains that we live in an uncertain world, and the future of nations depends on our ability to understand each other and on our ability to unite to fight global issues, such as terrorism and climate change. It is undeniable that culture has the power to transform societies. Our cultural heritage, indeed, enriches our everyday life, and represents a source of identity and cohesion. Additionally, UNESCO argues that creativity contributes to building open, inclusive and pluralistic societies. Culture, thus, plays a significant role in bringing nations together to achieve sustainable development, and is an important factor, which needs to be considered when creating policies and allocating assistance.

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How does UNESCO help protect our heritage and foster creativity? The agency created a list of World Heritage in Danger.

UNESCO explains that natural disasters, such as earthquakes and tsunamis can threaten World Heritage sites. However, there are currently more human-induced threats, like armed conflict, pollution, uncontrolled urbanization and unchecked tourist development, which cause these sites to be added to the List of World Heritage in Danger. A vivid example of human-induced threat to a classified landmark is the Crac des Chevalier in Syria. This 11th-century castle had been on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 2006, and was used by armed rebels as a shelter during the Syrian Crisis. Then it was bombed by the Syrian Army in 2013. Such armed conflict can have disastrous impacts on landmarks, thus the attempt of the agency to raise international awareness of the issue.

Adding a site to the World Heritage list results in this site being protected by international treaties. Furthermore, if a site happens to be on the List of World Heritage in Danger, the World Heritage Commission is allowed to immediately send assistance from the World Heritage Fund to the endangered property. Furthermore, adding a landmark to this list is a call for joint effort and, thus, alerts the International Community.

UNESCO’s work for culture is extremely important to the promotion and protection of our cultural heritage. Culture and diversity should be largely considered in the decision-making process of policies and assistance, as it plays a significant role in affecting the international response. Moreover, it is arguably one of the most important factors in the achievement of sustainable development.

If you want to learn more on the role of UNESCO regarding culture and heritage, please visit their website: http://en.unesco.org/themes/protecting-our-heritage-and-fostering-creativity

Source: UNESCO

Cultural Sustainability: an Introduction

 by Luca Niccolai

Part 1: France Paves the Way with the Protection of its Cultural Heritage

Imagine you are the last person in the world speaking your language. Imagine you are the only person responsible for keeping an entire culture alive. Unfortunately, I am not being overdramatic – languages are actually disappearing and as that happens, a whole period of history vanishes simultaneously. Culture is defined as “the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs of a particular group of people at a particular time”. Therefore, culture encompasses all kinds of genres, such as music, art, theater, literature… The list goes on. Culture plays an extremely important role in our world, as it allows our society to maintain the legacy from previous epochs and create a sense of identity. So how does one keep culture alive? Why should our society want to preserve this heritage?

This is an introductory piece to a series of articles about cultural sustainability. In these articles, I will emphasize the importance of protecting and promoting our culture, as it is a significant part of our society. I will attempt to expose the different roles of culture, and the different ways of preserving it.

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You might think that there are other more important issues, which require the attention of the government, such as terrorism, unemployment and economic stagnation, but culture is worth investing in. French President Charles de Gaulle would agree. He, in fact, created the Ministry of Culture in 1959, which was in charge of promoting and protecting the arts in France and abroad. Additionally, the aim of this Ministry was to manage the national archives, and maintain the French identity. De Gaulle’s Minister, André Malraux, managed to get an incredible 1% of the overall state budget dedicated to just the promotion of culture.

“Culture is the sum of all the forms of art, of love, and of thought, which, in the course of centuries, have enabled man to be less enslaved” – A. Malraux

The cultural heritage of France is one of the largest in the world and has influenced many other cultures, thus the importance of protecting and promoting it. The only way the government was able to effectively promote and maintain culture in France was to guarantee equal access to it for everyone. Therefore, they opened numerous “maisons de la culture” (art centers) that would host different types of art shows such as plays, art exhibitions and ballet. Furthermore, the Ministry conducted major architectural projects, notably the Grande Arche, the Louvre Pyramid and the Opéra Bastille, that anyone can admire. André Malraux also developed artistic education by opening dance and music conservatories. Moreover, music and cinema are internationally recognized as the most accessible forms of art, hence the creation of music festivals in late June to celebrate the beginning of summer, and the organisation of numerous events such as the Deauville and Cannes festivals, which allow the international public to explore this form of art. Such widespread promotion of culture obviously requires a significant budget, which the French government was willing to give in order to protect and promote the national heritage.

France has made significant efforts regarding culture, and is actively protecting its heritage. Certain cultures are slowly disappearing (I will write about this in another article), thus the promotion and protection of cultural heritage by other countries to match France’s efforts is essential.

I hope I aroused your curiosity with this introduction. Keep an eye on GLOBUS, as more articles about cultural sustainability are to come.

Photo Credits: http://www.fluentu.com

Santa, I want Sex Appeal for Christmas

by Grace-Emily Kelsey

So, my cousin is turning 10 soon and I’m thinking about a double digits birthday present, it should be really special. How about a pink glittery thong with the words ‘wink wink’ on what little material is cradling her butt cheeks?  What about that? Sounds like a good idea, right? Hopefully, whilst her arse is learning the words ‘come and get it’, it can also be taught ‘piss off’, ‘don’t come any closer’ and ‘help, society is oversexualising me, and I don’t know what to do’. Is there enough room on the butt for that?

The world is creating ‘sexy minx’ products for children in their single digits, and I think we should all get a little slap in the face, as a warm up for the big slap in the face we really need.

Are we oversexualising our young girls? Or am I just annoyed, that as a child my behind missed the opportunity to scream ‘wild thang’, and now I’m converting my deep set jealously into this? Nah. My butt could describe the overarching plot of Doctor Who vs the Daleks, and frankly that’s chill enough for me.

The premise of not oversexualising young girls is not averse to sex positive feminism. Sex positivity is the idea that all sex, as long as it is healthy and categorically consensual, then it is a positive thing. Whereas the American Psychology Association explains that sexualisation or over-sexualisation occurs when:

  • A person’s value is only measured by their sex appeal

  • A person is being held to a standard that equates a narrowly defined idea of physical beauty with sexiness

  • Someone is being seen less as a person and more as an object of somebody else’s sexual pleasure

  • Sexuality is inappropriately being imposed upon a person.

The APA makes it clear that not all four indicators need to be present for it to be seen as sexualisation, even one is enough. Anyone can be sexualised, but children are having this sexualisation imposed upon them by adults, and it is a form of child abuse, whilst in a wider scope the blasé reaction of the public towards this is softening our attitudes towards non-physical child abuse in general. The more we sexualise young girls, the less we are able to see them as genuinely interesting young women with autonomous control over their bodies, ideas and lives.

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Sexualisation is especially problematic when it happens to young people, as it comes during the time when they are starting to develop an identity for themselves as a sexual being. When lots of advertisements are making fully grown women look like toddlers or school children in order to portray them as sexy, it starts to blur the line between girlhood and womanhood. Children on average interact with various media sources for 6 hours and 32 minutes a day (that extra two mins is the real back breaker), and it is the media that is saturated with oversexualised images of women. This means that children spend a massive amount of time learning that they are sexual objects. Pigtails, school skirts, baby freckles as costume takes the innocence of youth into the sexy sphere, thus taking those of that age into the sexy sphere too. The more normalised ‘sexy schoolgirl’ Halloween costumes are, the more acceptable it becomes to sexualise school girls. This can lead to girls oversexualising themselves, when they learn that sexualised behaviour and sexualised appearance is rewarded and endorsed by society. Getting drawn into self-sexualisation at a young age means many girls skip the period of self-discovery and exploration, never finding out what makes them happy, and jump straight to becoming the person that they think will best please others.

Younger girls develop their sense of identity by emulating older women and girls they see in real life and in the media, learning acceptable and profitable ways to exist in our culture from them. Unfortunately, the way our media sexualises young girls can torment this period of growth. Yet, we must appreciate the development process, and know that what is appropriate for young girls changes rapidly from the ages of 10 to 18. Trying to combat over-sexualisation does not mean patronising or belittling young girls’ sexual journey – it simply means giving them back control.

A recent study showed that 15% of the music voted most popular with young teens contains sexually degrading lyrics towards women, with 85% of the most popular R&B songs also containing sexually degrading lyrics, with country music not far behind. The film industry also mistreated young women, who are on screen 4 times more than young men, but only actually make up 28% of the cast, with lots of them having little or no lines. This subtly shows how women are there to please the male gaze, and not to be main protagonists. Women are the beautiful accessories and men are the ones deemed interesting enough to actually make films about. The shocking underappreciation of young women on screen leads to a lack of diversity in how they are portrayed, there is no broad spectrum of young women to identify with, and no young women learning to be confident and self-empowered regarding her sexuality to look up to and learn from.

There is also a shocking number of magazines aimed at young teens which teach you not just how to look sexy, but how to look sexy in a way that boys will like. Not only is this ludicrously hetero-normative, but it’s also teaching them that they should dress to impress others, not to make themselves happy. This preaching of ways to make men happy with your appearance is such a phenomenon it has been given a name: Costuming for Seduction. So many young girls are being taught that their lives are not complete until they are attractive to men.

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Girls are learning their place in the world through these oversexualised images, and that when they fulfil these roles put forward by older members of society, they will be both rewarded and shamed. Society implies that young girls should be sexy to look at, but not actually sexually active in a way that pleases themselves. Once a girl takes ownership of her own sexuality, away from the male gaze, they are punished. Over-sexualisation of young girls also reinforces the gender power imbalance, and the dynamics of a patriarchal society in which women are the sexual objects of desire and never in control, removing their right to consent. Exposure to sexist advertising featuring women and young girls as sexual objects is producing a stronger acceptance of sex-role stereotyping and rape among male undergraduates putting female university students in real danger.

The over-sexualisation of young girls undermines their confidence and comfort with their body, leading to negative emotional responses such as disgust and repulsion. Having these types of feelings about your own body can lay the groundwork for developing anxiety, self-loathing and even eating disorders. Research has shown that girls most affected by over-sexualisation are most vulnerable depression, low self-esteem and anorexia. Times when the media changes its mind about the preferred design of the perfect body match spikes in anorexia in under 19 year olds.

We must make an effort to combat this. We need to set in motion a way to teach girls at school to view the media critically. This is known as media literacy education, which provides the media consumer with the analytical skills, confidence and knowledge to promote autonomy from the media. The encouragement of athletic activity in ways that celebrate what your body can do and not what it looks like is also another effective technique. Nurturing extra-curricular involvement gives young girls the opportunity to experience feelings of self-worth in non-sexual environments, and provides more ways for them to define themselves without it being related to how their body looks.

The number one best way to teach girls about sex, female sexuality, gender and consent is through accessible, comprehensive and relatable sex education. Sadly, this is rarely on offer for young girls, and thus most learn about sex and sexuality from the media. Parents and other important, influential family members need to not let over-sexualisation go unchallenged, calling it out when they see it, and letting the young girls know that they are more than just their bodies. We need more sex ed friendly schools and more feminist parenting.

Even if it’s too late for you to go back and have an unapologetically feminist, sex-positive upbringing, it’s not too late for everyone.

Do you know any young girls, so young even that body image struggles have not breached the horizons of their mind? Take a moment, maybe watch them run through a field, jumping in puddles and marvelling at the sky, and think that one day she’s going to look in the mirror for a thigh gap, not wear high-waisted jeans because boys don’t like them, try and fit coins in her collarbone and quieten her opinions in the fear of scaring boys away. Maybe that image will ignite in you a fiery rage. A rage so powerful and bright that you could do so much good with it. A fire strong enough to keep all girls warm against the icy front of hyper-sexualisation.

Hyper-sexualisation you can go and get lost.

– Yours truly A Survivor of you and all your little shit storms.

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