Our Year 11 and 6th Form Religious Studies and Philosophy students shared a unique opportunity to explore new ways of thinking about the future of society at an Education for Human Solidarity event, run by the Inspire Dialogue Foundation.
Inspire Dialogue events encourage debate on some of the big issues facing society today. On the 16 September, our students joined a dialogue in Cambridge, hosted by Lord Rowan Williams, centred on exploring education for human solidarity.
Lord Williams is leading the Education for Human Solidarity research program at Cambridge University to create evidenced-based, practical educational tools and resources to deliver an education that prepares individuals to be socially connected, emotionally resilient and responsible agents.
The day began with a discussion led by a distinguished panel including John Lloyd (producer and writer of QI), Richard Mullender (a former hostage negotiator) and Colleen McLaughlin (Director of Educational Innovation at Cambridge's Faculty of Education). The discussion centred on human solidarity and how this important concept can be fostered through education.
Our students were one of only two groups of school children in attendance. Nevertheless, they did not let the academics, doctors, charity founders and religious leaders intimidate them, taking full advantage of the opportunity to share their views in the small groups they were been allocated to. Each group’s discussion was unique, and some of the students’ experiences are shared below:
Joining a diverse group of strangers and discussing education in ways I had never even thought of before was inspiring. The day was a unique experience and provoked an optimism within me that individuals can influence change, whether that be in a small or a large way."“
We heard from a visitor who, as a refugee from Tibet, had travelled to the UK on foot. He had been educated in Tibetan monasteries and had experienced little of the pressure that can arise from an examination-driven educational system. This led to a discussion of the benefits of integral values and a desire to move the focus of education towards this and away from the importance of assessment.“
I felt very privileged to be part of the dialogue. Our views as students were valued and respected; it was especially interesting to listen to a wide variety of viewpoints."“
Later in the day, everyone was given the opportunity to attend a choice of seminars. Most of our students chose to attend a presentation given by ‘The Mind Man’ who, through a wide variety of magic tricks - including eating glass (with the disclaimer “do not try this at home”!), explained that even the impossible is possible.
As Una (Upper 6th) recounts:
"I learned that many things we convince ourselves cannot be done (whether consciously or subconsciously) are actually achievable. We simply need to look at the situation from a different perspective; a positive point of view can reveal heights we thought were never possible before."
The day ended with a regrouping to share the ideas and opinions discussed, the findings of which will help inform the Faculty of Education's work. Sasha (Year 11) reflects on what she gained by attending the dialogue, writing:
The event inspired great motivation in me, not only to be brave enough to start making changes within myself but also within our community.”“