2016: My year to remember (or maybe forget)

By Dr Christopher Grocock, Head of Classics


On Monday 5 February, I had the opportunity to talk in the Bedales assembly about some serious events which I had to come to terms with and cope with during 2016. These are personal to me, and as a rule, not things aired in public, but I felt it appropriate to talk about them for three reasons. First, a remark from Senior Deputy, Louise Wilson, that we often talk about Mental Health issues these days but do not often hear success stories – and I am one, I am pleased to say. Second, I was absent for a lot of 2016, and again while it is the norm to protect an individual’s privacy, I felt it ok to waive that right and to explain why 1I had needed help from other teachers to cover my lessons while I was away. Lastly, because it is a cathartic thing for me to do at this point – a year ago would have been far too close, while if I wait too long, the challenge of what happened may become diluted. I was told by a physician in St Thomas’ hospital that ‘it was impossible to exaggerate the scale of what I had gone through and survived.’ Hence the image of Fortuna Redux which we have copied from a classical sculpture and turned into a mosaic for our garden. It might be translated loosely as ‘lucky to be back.’

3As a reminder, my name is Christopher Grocock, I am 60 years old, I have been happily married to Sally since 1996, I am Head of Classics at Bedales School (an honourable position in an august and respected institution), where I have taught since 2001, I have a crazy collie dog called Zeus, and over the course of my life I haven’t done badly at all: at University I gained a double first and a Ph.D, I went on to be a successful worker for a Christian charity, then as a marketing executive and product development manager in the printing industry; by 35, I was Project Director of the Bede’s World Museum in Jarrow. I ‘chanced upon’ teaching when aged about 40, and have stayed in the profession ever since then. Alongside this I have pursued a career as an ‘independent scholar’ and I have written six academic books and more articles than seem possible, starting back in 1988 and seeing something appear under my name every year since 2004.  I also like to do practical projects, not least of these being major landscaping of our garden in Grayshott, where one of my most notable achievements is our ‘sitooterie’, where we can ‘sit oot’ in a summer evening, or sit inside the attached ‘sitinnerie’ if it rains. This might all seem, dare I say it, idyllic; but for all my life, going back to about the age of six, it has been marred by a complete absence of feelings to go with the achievements.


There was always a ‘Black Dog’ to spoil things. Feelings of despair or pointlessness might come at any time – but more often when I was tired or had just completed a lot of hectic work (I rarely felt this when I was doing something, which is a reason why I kept pushing myself to do things to a level which was decidedly unhealthy.) Being a Christian compounded the situation: Christians aren’t supposed to feel like this are they? Well they can and do.

5All this took a lot of energy, but sadly much of the determination and drive came from a really bad source – depression and a very low level of self-esteem. No matter how hard I worked at anything, or how much success I seemed to attain, something was always there to spoil it. The diagram on the right (from the Oxford Guide to Behavioural Experiments in Cognitive Therapy) illustrates the futility of the cycle: the repeated attempts to prove my worth to myself and counter perceived low self-esteem left me exhausted; the inability to ‘feel’ success reinforced the lack of any sense of entitlement I had, so I tried harder only to become more disappointed, and my efforts led either to anxiety (or the right of the diagram) or to depression (on the left), or to both.

In April 2016, I came to terms with the fact that what I was suffering from was a mental illness. No two are the same, but I was not alone by any means, and everywhere I looked I began to see that others – often people in the limelight, like Fearne Cotton and Ruby Wax – had had similar experiences to mine. But the one which resonated most closely with me was ex-England cricketer and coach Graeme ‘Foxy’ Fowler, interviewed in connection with the publication of his own account of what he had been through. In this, he recounted part of a conversation he had had with his GP. ‘Have you ever self-harmed or actually tried to take our own life.’ ‘No. But a lot of the time I just wish I did not exist any more.’ I had had the same conversation almost word-for-word with my own GP not a month earlier. Lesson one, and the most important lesson I learned and wanted to pass on is: don’t bottle things up. Feelings like this are not ‘normal’ but they are ‘common’ and more people have them than we may dare to think.

I received super support and sympathy – from home, family, friends, and work; I was given time and space to recover. But me being me, I did most of the work myself, and made use of facilities online from the NHS and a CBT course. I have gone from being an unbeliever to a convert. The ancient Greeks write the saying ‘gnothi seauton’ or ‘know yourself’ over the doorway to the oracle at Delphi. Working through CBT exercises helped me – without too much pain – to recognize myself and distinguish the me that really exists from the phoney poor self-image I often created.

Lesson two was to ‘recognise the lies we tell ourselves’ – often by listening to others. In the past I had achieved a lot, and recognised nothing. I wouldn’t want to exaggerate my own abilities and achievements but they were, and are not, ‘nothing’. Over the summer of 2016 I got my head sorted out, and spent an enjoyable summer doing more work in the garden and writing – and walking with Sally and Zeus.

I returned to work in autumn 2016 refreshed and with a sensible approach to getting work done at Bedales. The first half of the term went very well, but on top of work I was still writing and had two deadlines to meet, and some more projects inside the house to sort out before winter came; I had resorted to old work-patterns (though I was feeling very good about them). But towards the end of that half-term by beloved mother-in-law, Beadle, passed away aged 91. I said I would take her funeral, and delivered two eulogies on the same day (the first day of the half-term holiday); and then we found that my dear friend Dave had died, and he had asked in his will if I would do his funeral too, and it was then that we found out the hard way that I had an undiagnosed blood disorder. This time it was not my mind but my body which reacted madly to the stress I had put it under. Click here for a fine illustration of the kind of reaction I had at the end of October 2016. It satisfies an interest I have in steam trains and it is worth watching to 1:37 (ironically the slope you see from Exeter Central to Exeter St David’s is 1 in 37).

In summary, my liver released more sugar to give me energy and went into overdrive; my pancreas couldn’t cope; my blood thickened till I had a ‘massive embolism’ about the size of a small lemon which squashed my pulmonary artery and stopped my heart. Fortunately, I had already made it as far as the ICU at Guildford’s Royal Surrey County Hospital when my heart stopped – four times in all, the longest for 15 minutes.

7Lesson three, is knowing that when people say ‘stress is a killer’ they are not lying. The ICU was an ideal place to have it as it turned out, because their CPR kept the oxygen supply going to my brain until the embolism could be dealt with. Later when I was back in Guildford, I decided that the record label was the ideal thing to put on to T-shirts and a sweatshirt (the irony of the show’s title ‘One Dam Thing After Another’ made me laugh too. In hospital, I learned that one of the best strategies to face down a really serious situation – and I faced several over the weeks to come – was to laugh at it or spit in its eye). Lesson four: CPR really works when it is done properly!

9I was not out of danger. My heart had-re-started but my lungs were full of the bits of clotted blood and my liver and kidneys were not happy, shall we say (everything shut down at one point or another). This link illustrates what happened pretty well. At any event, I needed a treatment called ECMO provided by a remarkable team of medical  personnel at St Thomas’ Hospital led by Dr Duncan Wyncoll (right). In short I had eight days in an induced coma and then a slow and very steady recovery with numerous hurdles to get over before I was transferred back to Guildford on 20 November and then came home on 8 December. My condition is stable if I do as I am told (which I do) and take all my meds (which I do) and avoid stress (which I do). This is another lesson: a patient should be patient. Oh, and ‘medicine is not an exact science.’


I fought hard to get back to work during the term after Christmas and I am more pleased to be back at Bedales than I can say. Even when tired I have lost the feelings of wanting to be ‘nowhere’. I most definitely want to be ‘somewhere’ – at home, at school, or watching the glories of sunsets on Hankley Common just north-east of Grayshott. What else have I learned? Well, sometimes it is ok to say ‘no. ‘Being’ not ‘doing’ is the key to enjoying what we do. And sometimes it is better to take longer and pull half the train up the hill at a time! (You may need to look at the first hyperlink to understand!).

An update from the Professional Guidance department

By Vikki Alderson-Smart, HE Advisor

A team of interviewers arrived at school this week to take part in one-to-one talks with 6.1 students about their plans for after Bedales. The interviewing team sent a message afterwards to say: “We were totally bowled over by your students over the past couple of days. They were not only punctual and polite, but also most communicative, conveying a wide spectrum of ideas and delightful to engage.”

All of the 6.1’s will have a follow-up interview with me to discuss in more depth their research into their post-Bedales plans. I will be encouraging them to go and visit universities on open days, and all these dates can be found on the UCAS website. Taster days are another good way of trying out various courses; registration for the University of London taster programme is now open.

Students can also try MOOCS as a way of dipping their toes into subjects they may not have tried before; Futurelearn is a particularly good website for finding courses.

Students should also take advantage of the Old Bedalian careers list. I will encourage your sons and daughters to speak with Leana Seriau, Alumni Liaison Manager, to use this facility. She is able to put students in contact with Old Bedalians from many career areas so that they can gain a better insight into areas of work they may be considering. Please encourage them to see Leana or contact her by email: lseriau@bedales.org.uk

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award update


By Paul Turner, Head of Geography and DoFE Centre Coordinator

Last year, students grasped the opportunities available through DofE with both hands and the number of participants increased fivefold with half the school involved. Students camped and walked in Dartmoor as well as Dorset and the South Downs. The DofE Award continues to be highly valued by employers and universities alike and is a useful badge – recognising much of what the students already do as part of everyday life at Bedales.

This year, we’ve expanded the team with Ana Simmons taking responsibility for the Silver Award (available to all Block 4’s) and myself leading the Gold Award (available to all 6.1’s) with the award running across the two sixth form years. Following a trial of the Bronze Award with Block 3, we have instead decided to focus the school’s resources on the Silver and Gold levels. There is no prerequisite for each level and it is common for schools to offer only specific levels.

A new addition this year is the introduction of DofE comments to the review cycle for specific year groups, and we hope this will improve the regular nature of communication and allow parents to better understand the progress their child is making. It is important to reiterate the independent nature of the award: students are required to evidence and organise much of what they do themselves within the framework provided and upload the appropriate material to the edofe website. Another important point to emphasise is the composite nature of the award with the expedition being one of four components including the physical, skills and volunteering. As was the case last year, students will not be permitted to participate in the expedition unless they have submitted evidence for at least two of the other award sections.

Looking forward, we have Silver expeditions in the New Forest and South Downs planned as well as Gold expeditions: one walking in the Brecon Beacons, another canoeing on the River Wye. Gold students continue weekly training as part of their expedition preparation and Silver students in Block 4 continue their Friday afternoon activity having now been allocated their expedition groups and leader.

Block 5 China experience


By Oscar Clark and Isabella Barty-King, Block 5


We left for Beijing, via Frankfurt, early on the Thursday before half term and landed in Beijing at a similar time on Friday, marking the first day of our battle against tiredness. We went straight from the airport to see the Temple of Heaven which gave us our first taste of the amazing historical sights Beijing has to offer.

At the end of the day we went to see an acrobatics show, at the end of the show there was a steel globe with 7 motorbikes riding fast around the inside.  It certainly helped to keep us excited and awake! Our stay in Beijing was packed to the brim with incredible sightseeing including the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the Summer Palace. The highlight of our time in Beijing was the five hour round trip to Emily Seeber’s favourite spot on the Great Wall, which did not disappoint. After roughly an hour of walking steeply uphill we were gazing along the monumental structure as it stretched into the distance, zigzagging along the mountain range and eventually dipping over the IMG_4236horizon.

After an amazing few days in Beijing we pulled our luggage onto the overnight train to Xi’an and settled down for a night on the tracks. This was the most fun, with four packed into each cabin and barely enough room to move.  You’d think it would have been a disaster but it still remains my favourite part.  We were woken by weary guards warning us of our impending arrival at Xi’an. Our time in the city was short and entertaining and jam-packed.  It was actually my favourite city out of all three. A highlight was our visit to the terracotta warriors, where we spent hours looking at the different soldiers.  We also made our own terracotta warriors, learnt about the ancient history and took a beautiful bike ride along the city wall.

IMG_4193All too soon we were flying out of Xi’an, south east towards our final destination – Shanghai. We landed, ate and slept, preparing to meet our Chinese counterparts at the school the next day. We met our buddies from the high school, mine being Jason and Thomas, a scientist and a mathematician. We then spent the rest of the day exploring a water village just outside Shanghai which was almost Venetian in style. We spent the day with two of the maths teachers from the school and you may remember them as having visited Bedales last year. The penultimate day of activities was spent at the school, sitting in on English and art lessons, playing a seven-a-side game of football against them and, to round off our time at the school, we watched short presentations from the students on the music, fashion and culture of China. We then left the school in pairs to have dinner with our buddies and their families, all round Shanghai.

IMG_3970We spent our last day in central Shanghai, walking around the French concession where we visited a museum on the history of propaganda. In the evening we spent a very interesting hour in a karaoke bar which was rounded off with a short award ceremony and a big thank you to our national tour guide, Joyce.

It was a truly amazing trip giving a remarkable insight into the history and culture of the fastest growing economy in the world and a wondrous opportunity to see new things first hand. On behalf of all of the students, we would like to say a huge thank you to all the staff who made this fantastic experience possible.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Own your own Bedales lamb


By Andrew Martin, Head of Outdoor Work

Lambing this year reached 188%, meaning we got 47 lambs from 25 ewes with no fatalities. In the sheep world, this is very good news! Recently, parent Craig McGregor got in contact to share his story about keeping his own Bedales sheep, an extract of which is below. If you would like to try your hand at some shepherding please get in touch. We will be selling live lambs from mid-July and they will be the tastiest lawnmower you will ever have! Contact me on 07786381427 / email amartin@bedales.org.uk

By Craig McGregor, parent

When I first read Andrew’s email from Bedales last spring offering lambs from the Bedales flock, I confess my first thought was ‘Yum!’ rather than ‘Awwwwww cute…’. I’d kept a few pigs in the past (they were delicious too) and I liked the idea of trying some sheep for a change, despite the odd cautionary tale I’d heard in the past. As it happens the Jacob’s sheep at Bedales behave more like [mountain] goats anyway, and they have provided my family with lots of entertainment over the past year!


They have been very easy to keep and look after, especially as Andrew had given them the necessary medicines before I collected them, and even loaned me his trailer to get my four lambs home.

I know you shouldn’t name future meals in your paddock, but one of them (they are all rams) showed such leadership and smart thinking that I praised him and inadvertently called him Timmy one day, and that stuck. The others remain nameless, though all of them are very happy to chat at any time, and they are very curious by nature. They are fast learners and so can be beckoned from far away when they know it’s mealtime, or see me with the rattling bucket.

IMAG0105-20170619-231803296The biggest benefit of course is the grazing, and they have kept our two fields to a nice neat length, and we haven’t needed any extra topping, which is very handy and saves some money too.

Their next milestone is our local butcher, who will be cutting and preparing the meat.  As they’re just over the year, they are officially young hogget’s, apparently, and are absolutely delicious when slow-roasted…

Of course I am also collecting another three or four from this year’s lambs to repeat the cycle. Highly recommended! And happy to chat with any other parents…


How we learn and what makes us tick

By Josh Mazas, 6.2

I wanted to share some thoughts on what I have personally found make people act the way they do, with a touch on how great a Bedalian education is.

When I say “what makes us tick” I mean the most basic subconscious motivators. Not for example, money, power, or because mum tells you to. These are important, but they apply individually, and I would be more interested in the factors beneath those – in those that apply universally.

Also, I’m only at the very initial thoughts on what I think is education and behavioural studies. In fact, most people would usually stand up and tell the audience why they’re qualified to talk on education and behavioural studies… I’m not qualified to do anything much. I have however, been at this school for a decade now, well over half of the 14-odd years I’ve spent in education. And what I wanted to do was just share a personal fascination that I think was born of going to a school that aims to be slightly different – questioning the status quo.

A few years ago, after some deep soul-searching, I diagnosed myself as a compulsive people-watcher. I find watching the infinitely varied way in which people behave and trying to understand why, fascinating. So to start with, I will spend a bit of time talking about a four-year-old friend of mine, Badger.

Badger: 1. Valorisation

The great thing about kids is that they are psychologically untouched. They don’t have any of the complexities or self-awareness of an adult that comes from scepticism and experiences and growing up, and so when I’m people-watching, it’s like their actions are a clear window into their mind-set.

Well, a couple of weekends ago I spent some time watching Badger interacting with his natural habitat at Common People music festival with his parents and all the other people we were working with. The first evening he stood on the circle of logs around the campfire and jumped from one to the other, and when he did a particularly big jump, we cheered him, which I can tell you made him very happy. The next evening he went back to the logs and did some jumping, but this time he looked at us expectantly, clearly waiting for the applause that his daring feats of acrobatics deserved. Which of course, with his chubby cheeks and bright blue eyes, he got.

As I was watching, I was struck by how much of the time, we do things because people tell us they have value, when in the larger scheme of things, they are about as significant as Badger’s hops. It was clear to me that the really basic reason that Badger was doing his hopping (which can be transferred to many other things we do) is for one of three basic reasons, the first of which I would call ‘valorisation’.

The concept is very simple. Throughout our childhoods, if we have good parents and peers who support us emotionally, then we are applauded for certain things: academic, creative and sporting feats, altruistic behaviour and generally what we think of as those acts that have ‘value’.

It’s funny, because this idea of value is completely arbitrary: we think of an action as having value if it’s worth doing. And we do stuff because we feel it has value. This tautology means that, to an extent, goodness is trained into us: we say that we inherited the creative/sporty/maths genes from our parents, but I think it’s more like our parents applaud traits they find in themselves, and thus you are subconsciously trained to be like them, with no genetic predisposition.

Anyway, when I consider the basic reasons that make us do things: work hard; be friendly; eat your greens; I think it stems at its most basic level from this idea of valorisation. Which means that although we don’t think of ourselves usually in this way, we are each individually programmed by our parents’ conscious and subconscious valorisation, as well as the valorisation we receive from our surroundings. But of course, that’s not where all our ‘ticking’ comes from.

Badger: 2. Copying and integrating

Back to Badger. The day after his log-jumping Olympic gold, Badger was following his mum Kate around, and she was walking round the campsite just dancing to the reggae-dub that was playing on the mainstage, so he started bopping with her. It was interesting because he initially watched her carefully, trying to replicate her exact movements, until the moment of realisation that her incomprehensible spasms were actually linked to the beat that was incessantly playing. You could see the comprehension as we went from dancing completely out of tune, to focussing inwards and rocking to the music with much happiness, jamming along with glee and pride, bigger and bigger moves… until he whacked his head on one of the poles.

Poor Badger.

The next basic motivator then, I thought, was clear throughout much of the animal kingdom; especially monkeys, and it was simply: copying. As an evolutionary mechanism, it makes a lot of sense, you copy your peers or people you aspire to be in order to learn from them, and improve yourself.

This is actually a vital part of initial learning, until we learn to think for ourselves, which is why you have to be super careful about what you do or say around kids. They are incredible at picking up on what you do and copying you. Without their talent in this field we wouldn’t be able to learn to speak, or eat, or any very basic communication skills.

You can also see it subconsciously in large groups of people, shoals of fish, and young Tory voters. “My parents are Tory, I’ll vote Conservative”. It’s amazing how much more likely you are to dance if other people are dancing, this feeling of copying people so as not to be different, to blend in, be part of the crowd is something we all experience, and isn’t always positive.

Anyway, so I think you’ve probably grasped quite easily the first two obvious factors of motivation: valorisation and the innate urge to copy. The third one is my favourite, and I think that between these three you can argue that they cover all the things we do in our lives, in general.

Badger: 3. Wonder

This is the last time I will mention Badger: when I woke up on the last day of the festival, I found him sitting on a stool, pouring water very gently over this little spider web and seeing how it made little droplets that sparkled in the about 11:30 sunshine. He was completely enthralled, and 100% focussed, as he was when dancing or log-hopping. It was wonderful to see.

I took the liberty of joining him in his experiments, and for some brief moments felt the same wonder at seeing the water trickle over such a delicate structure without breaking it.

Although I’m pretty certain Badger wasn’t engrossed specifically by the tensile strength of natural fibres; I thought it was clear we both felt an urge to experiment; to explore our own capabilities; to find out about the world and how it worked. I would argue that it’s the same instinct that makes people want to study at higher education, or take a course in some long-lost art, or climb K2 (the most dangerous mountain in the world to date I believe).

On reflection, I wondered again about the evolutionary perspective on this final factor, and I thought that it was deep down probably linked to fear. Fear is arguably our most innate sensation, all animals have it and it helps us to survive. When discovering something or doing something new, whether physical or mental, you gain knowledge or strength or a skill. This we can essentially call a ‘strength’. Every time you gain a strength, you feel better prepared to survive in a world that is quintessentially frightening. You feel, every time you embark on a discovery, a sense of self-betterment, which is why we have this built into us.

This is my favourite factor, as I said, because it serves us better than the two other factors. If someone tells us to do something, or just simply does something, we are initially at an advantage if we do that thing; but in a more developed world it is absolutely vital to curate and encourage the third factor, which I would like to call innate curiosity.


Finally, a couple of quick words about Bedales. Although you may not agree, I think the wonderful thing about this school is embodied in how it approaches the three factors I have just discussed.

Firstly, the incredible amount of valorisation by the teachers is perfect for creating a self-confidence in the student body, a pride in one’s own abilities and also a willingness to do what is good, since we valorise things such as hard work, appreciation of self and others; respect; work of each for weal of all etc. I have a friend who was badly bullied before he joined, and remember vividly how he cried on his first day – such was his lack of confidence. However, through constant support and valorisation, he is now not only proud of his achievements, himself and his beautiful girlfriend, but also feels prepared emotionally for whatever is coming in the next few years.

However, in terms of the second motivator (copying), we find Bedales’ ethos rebels slightly. Bedales is a great advocate of individuality. Which precisely rejects that innate urge to do like everyone else and copy blindly until you understand why. The problem with the second motivator in our contemporary society is that much of what people do is pointless; due to the speed at which attitudes and cultures and even simply geographical positioning changes. In my opinion this is an excellent way to create ‘intelligent thinkers’; people who surpass their basic internal forces to rationally consider their options before doing them. Again, I would say Bedales has struck gold.

Finally, and I’m sure you know what I’m going to say, Bedales – as it says on the website – encourages ‘inquisitive thinkers’. I think we can all agree that this inquisitive, curious, appetite for something different is incredibly valued and valuable at Bedales; it could be considered a trait comparable to or intrinsically linked with (depending on how you see it) creativity. Sir Ken Robinson said it, and I agree, we must cultivate creativity in our schools with the same importance as mathematics or English.

You need creativity to approach the uncertain future we have ahead of us with success. And actually, I would say that Bedales, to a certain extent, is also pretty accomplished in this area too.

Before I finish, I would like to go back to the beginning point about ‘people-watching’. It is fascinating and although you may think what you like about my observations, they come from a completely free and personally tailored form of learning. The integral aim of people-watching is to not only learn about other people, but to stretch your own perspective and learn about yourself. I would highly recommend it.

Cecily Eastwood In Memoriam: twenty years

DSC_0031 (Large)

By Ruth Whiting, former Bedales Head of History (1963-2000)

Cecily was the third of the four daughters of Basil and Alison Eastwood, all of whom attended Bedales.  Lively, enthusiastic, multi-talented and fiercely intelligent Cecily put 110% into everything she did and saw no reason why there should be any limit to what she, and others, could achieve.  Acting, directing, singing in the choir and playing the flute in the orchestra absorbed much of the time Cecily didn’t need for academic work and she was one of the chief motivators of the early “energy saving and greening of Bedales” campaign.

DSC_0032 (Large)With a place at Newnham College, Cambridge to read Modern languages secured for September 1997, after leaving Bedales Cecily earned money working in The Bear and Ragged Staff in Woodstock and Blackwell’s Bookshop in Oxford before departing to work in Lechwe School, Kitwe in Zambia’s Copper Belt.  Very soon she was also volunteering to work with children who had lost one or both parents to AIDS, running a homework club which also included music and development of language.  Tragically on 2 June she was killed in a road accident on her way to join a school Geography expedition to Lake Tanganyika.

At the beginning of the autumn term of 1997, Bedalians began work creating ‘Cecily’s Garden’.  Whilst working in the Bonham’s Barn bake-house Cecily had confided in Peter Coates how much she would like a garden nearby for reading and quiet contemplation.  The original garden was surrounded by a willow fence with an arch at the entrance, planted with camellias by the barn, herbs, roses and in the spring filled with daffodils encircling the existing tree and with a semi-circular bench created by Alison Crowther.  Over the years the garden has been expanded, contracted, encroached upon by the new pizza oven and hemmed in by the new staff houses, gradually falling into decay.

DSC_0034 (Large)This academic year Jonny Smart (Block 5) chose to work on renovating the garden for his ODW BAC project, guided by David Anson.  David explains, “The aim is to create a cottage garden that makes use of the wild-flower nature of it. The path through it is to encourage the sense of contemplation.”  Two medlar trees, donated by Philip Parsons, have been planted and after half term additional plants will provide the summer colour.  One of the gorgeously scented roses has survived from the original planting.  In Spring the daffodils and camellias still flourish.

After a visit to Zambia in 1998 Cecily’s parents established a charity to support AIDS’ orphans through primary education, providing uniforms, shoes, books and where necessary fees.  Over the years this has extended to secondary and then higher education and also work in training for leadership and developing health education.  As Cecily’s father Basil Eastwood wrote in the latest edition of Cecily’s Fund Newsletter, “the charity has helped over 20,000 Zambian children to complete their education”.  Find out more about Cecily’s Fund: www.cecilysfund.org

Broadening Horizons

Broadening Horizons conf 2

By Sarah Oakley, University Liaison Coordinator

Bedales was pleased to host and support the Broadening Horizons: Choices and Progression Beyond Sixth Form Conference organised by Unifrog on Tuesday. Unifrog provide the search tool used by our students for university choices. The distinctiveness of this collaboration was the range of topics from mental health, to apprenticeships, to demystifying university league tables and possibilities of students ‘going Dutch’ to universities in the Netherlands.

We welcomed 30 delegates from a range of mainstream and independent educational institutions in the South and South West of England to hear perspectives from: Anna Barker (Chair of the British Youth Council); Hamrinder Matharu (Apprenticeship Business Development Manager, The Open University); Kim Anderson (Area Manager of Unifrog); Monique Swennehuis (Senior Advisor of Hanze University of Applied Science, Netherlands) and Lizzie Burrows (Head of UK/EU Student Recruitment from the University of Surrey).

A range of Heads and Deputy Principals of Sixth Forms and those supporting HE applications all enthusiastically embraced the breadth of topics and opportunities to share their ideas in this shifting landscape.

Dead right

By Clare Jarmy, Head of Religious Studies and Philosophy 

I went to the Mary Rose Museum a couple of weeks ago, and was blown away by the exhibits; the amazing things that have survived for 400 years under the sea. But when I got to the case with a human skeleton inside, I felt a bit odd, and on Monday in assembly, I took students through a philosophical journey, thinking about why that was. We started by asking ‘where’s the harm?’ After all, the person had no more need of their bones, and perhaps they could be an important part of an educational experience. More than this, why should we be precious about these cells? The cells in our body regenerate all the time – why should we be precious about the cells someone was composed of when they died? John Mazas, ably-supported by a skeleton from the Biology Department, did his Yorick routine, reading the passage from Hamlet (V.i) where he remarks that the ‘earth’ that once made Alexander the Great could now be bunging up a hole in the wall.

Next, we looked at objectification. Heidegger distinguished between beings that were aware they existed (Dasein) from objects of use. Perhaps what’s weird is that when we put a skeleton or a mummy, or any other human remains, in a museum, they are no longer human, they are an exhibit; an object of use.

But here’s where the Mary Rose got it so right, because they had gone to great pains to keep these stories humanised. There is the archer, who was found with a ridge in his finger from where he drew his bow. There was the Purser (Bursar), who was identified because of his disability; no other member of the crew could not have been fully able-bodied.

It’s not just this experience that is educative, in the broadest sense, though. Coming, quite literally, face-to-face with mortality acts as a memento mori, a remembrance of death. It is this that can jolt us back into realising what it means to exist.

Bedales Jaw: are human rights, liberal rights?

By Emily Seeber, Head of Chemistry

On Wednesday I presented a Jaw to students on the ‘problem of multiculturalism’ for liberal political philosophy, with a focus on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). I began by introducing students to the key ideas of liberal thought, and focused on the ideas of John Rawls, whose theory has been hugely influential in contemporary political theory. I then suggested the challenge posed by multiculturalism for liberalism and gave three criteria for a liberal philosophy which was consistent with a pluralistic society, and in this case a global society.

Firstly, what constitutes human rights needs to be determined under conditions of fairness (behind Rawls’ veil of ignorance in which participants are unaware of their gender, religion, economic status, political views, etc). Secondly, any universal rights should represent values which deeply different cultures can accept and which do not contradict their own systems of value.

Thirdly, rights and restrictions given by the declaration should provide genuine opportunities for equality of human flourishing in culturally diverse societies. I demonstrated that, arguably, and in my opinion, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights fails to meet any of these criteria and, consequently, does not represent a multiculturalist form of liberalism.

Consequently, judging and measuring other societies using the Declaration is inherently illiberal. This does not mean that the values represented by the Declaration are not good values, or that the notion of human rights is conceptually flawed, but it does suggest that the Declaration needs to be reformulated into a document which is more tolerant and sensitive to other cultural values.