Where do YOU draw the line? Many people say this generation of students is the most ethically alert and aware body of thinkers. The room comes alive when we have class discussions about abortion, war, euthanasia, cloning and many other contentious issues.
Imagine a subject which could take you to faraway cultures, to times past and to other worlds: that is what we do! Welcome to the most exciting subject in the world - this one at least!
Religious Education is the academic study of some of the most powerful, inspirational and emotive ideas in human history. A major component of what it means to be human is to 'believe'. In RE, we discuss these ideas, where they come from and how they influence and structure believers’ lives. Thinking about these issues makes our pupils more focused, analytical and skilful in both debate and research.
We want our pupils to be articulate about what they believe; we want their opinions to be backed up by solid academic knowledge. We have, at the same time, a completely unique, intellectual identity - teaching and reinforcing the intellectual skills that make many of our students successful applicants to law, journalism and a host of competitive and demanding careers.
Pause for Thought - Whole School assembly readings
Mr Clements' ‘Pause for Thought’ articles have been downloaded more than 12,000 times on TES. See his latest reading below.
This Friday marks the 30th anniversary of one of the most startling photos taken. The spacecraft Voyager 1 took it on February 14th, 1990, as it left our planetary neighbourhood for the far fringes of the solar system to take photos of the sun and other planets. Voyager 1 was launched in 1977 and is still travelling. It is almost 14 billion miles from Earth and you can track it on the NASA website.
Just before it left our planetary zone, the NASA mission crew turned it around for one last look at its home planet. Voyager 1 was about 6.3 billion kilometres from Earth, and took a photo of our planet. This photo has been placed on the home screen of the School’s computer systems and all you can see of Earth is the smallest, pale blue dot, not even 15% size of a pixel, in the middle of a sunbeam.
The vastness of space and the smallness of our world suddenly seems very real. The great American writer and scientist Carl Sagan spoke beautifully about his reactions he saw this photo and today we are going to hear part of his speech.
He wrote: ‘Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
'The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
'Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
'The Earth is the only world known so far to harbour life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
'It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.’
Over the last ten years, we have become far more aware of the fragility of our planet’s ecosystems and how interconnected they all are. We have found that all our actions have consequences and impacts; and for perhaps the first time in history, a species is deciding to save itself from its own excesses. We are learning, maybe late and definitely with fear, that we need to treat our pale blue home with respect, with thought and perhaps most importantly, with kindness.
Mr B Clements
Teacher of EAL