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Sixth Form Scholars’ Trip

On Wednesday 23 November, Lower Sixth Academic Scholars attended an enriching day of lectures in Central London with Thriving Minds. The day was a fantastic occasion for our Scholars’ minds to be challenged on a wide range of topics and a balanced academic programme to simulate thought beyond the constraints of the curriculum. Lecturers from Oxford University, Aberdeen University, and London University stretched pupils with fast paced content from an array of disciplines where they were able to begin to see connections between different areas of study.

The first lecture introduced pupils to theories of beauty (aesthetics), justice and truth, and used contemporary examples to explore the complexity of our judgements. Dr Christopher O’Neill then discussed that, contrary to popular belief, outstanding achievement in everything and anything from maths to marathons, classics to clarinet, from footie to physics does not ultimately depend upon innate intelligence or ability. Oxbridge admissions questions are designed to give candidates a chance to show their real ability and potential – which means seeing if a candidate can think laterally, apply their thinking to new ideas, and different contexts. Julie Arliss spoke to pupils about there being no ‘right’ answer to many interview questions: the focus is on how well you can think. Pupils came away with some essential Oxbridge standard thinking tools and ideas for developing advanced lateral thinking skills.

After a quick lunch, a motion was proposed: ‘this house believes that it isn’t OK to make comments about another person’s body’ and pupils engaged in a debate. Arguments incorporated several relevant issues such as freedom of speech and freedom from discrimination. The day ended with an ear stimulating lecture on ‘Rock in 11 Dimensions: Where Physics and Guitars Collide’ from Dr Mark Lewney who used his skills with a rock guitar to explore the physics of sound; showing how string vibrations might answer questions about the Big Bang; and, how the Large Hadron Collider – the biggest experiment ever built – might let us peek into extra dimensions.

It was a great day out for our Sixth Form Scholars, with one commenting that they “found the lectures fascinating. I particularly loved the Oxbridge Interview Question section, which really made you try to think outside the box.”