With the first Eunoia Society lecture of the Summer Term due to take place later today, we sat down with Ms Azita Kazem, the Director of Teaching and Learning, to hear a little bit more about the society and it’s plans for the future.

Q: What is the Eunoia society? 

The name Eunoia is taken from the Ancient Greek meaning, ‘beautiful thinking, and also, the goodwill a speaker cultivates between themselves and their audience, a condition of receptivity.’ The society’s aim is to provide academic lectures, talks, or events that inspire our students to think beautifully and activate within them a true passion for learning.

Q: What talks have the society run so far?

From the beginning of the Lent Term, the Eunoia Society’s aim has been to run a lecture every Tuesday on a variety of different topics. Here are just some of the lectures that we have run this year:

Literature and Media

Miss Treeby kicked off the series with a lecture on Literature and the Media – it was very eye-opening to see how aspects of the media, from advertisements, to music videos, to movies, bring literary themes into our everyday lives. It was particularly interesting to see the ways in which depictions of women in adverts have changed over the years, and, more disturbingly, how they haven’t.

Music and Race

The next lecture was by Mr Weymes, and explored how Music and Race interact with each other. With ‘Black or White’ by Michael Jackson we looked at how music can be transracial, while also reflecting racial issues of the time, and using the music of various Grime artists we looked at how a whole genre can be influenced by the context of its creation, and by those that consume it.

Maths at Bloxham and Beyond

We were delighted to have Old Bloxhamist, Ben Smith to talk about Where Taking Mathematics at Bloxham took him: to postgraduate study in Aerodynamic Engineering in Swansea University. Ben gave us an invigorating and highly informative talk on how Maths A Level can open up a myriad of opportunities for students, that they may not be aware of in Sixth Form! He then took us through the practical application of maths in aerodynamic engineering.

History of Pandemics

Mr Hudson invited Dr Elise Smith to speak about the History of Pandemics. We learned how pandemics can be viewed as political and sociological events as opposed to purely medical ones. Of course, this historical analyses of pandemics was also very topical, and Dr Smith made many links between our current situation with Covid-19 and historical pandemics such as Cholera and Influenza.

Food for Fuelling Sport

Mr Harvey led the Sports and Hospitality A Level students on a demonstration on creating Food for Fuelling Sport. They found out how to make fruit smoothies, ginger, apple, and cucumber shots, raw date bars, cereal energy bars, lemon, date, and pink grapefruit energy drinks, and, of course, pancakes! They also learned about the benefits of making your won sports foods in terms of health and cost.

Art of the Catholic Reformation

In Gianlorenzo Bernini – art of the Catholic Reformation, Dr Herring led us on a journey through Bernini’s art, pointing out symbolism, controversies, and context. There was even audience participation in the form of an inquisition surrounding a particularly blasphemous depiction of The Last Supper. We left feeling inspired to visit the various artistic and architectural wonders, and with a new appreciation for the theological conversations that art enables and creates.

Positive Psychology

We welcomed Associate Professor Matthew Smith to speak about Positive Psychology, and how it can make you feel, live, and work better. He took us through the top 5 regrets people have at the end of their lives, showed us 5 ways to live a more positive life, and helped us find our own 5 positive traits (it seems that 5 was the magic number!). We left the lecture feeling inspired to use the tools he had given us to pursue positivity in all aspects of our lives.

The State of UK Politics

Bloxham welcomed our local MP Victoria Prentis to speak to us about The State of UK Politics Within our Current Climate. She delivered an insightful talk and the students had the opportunity to ask a plethora of political questions.

Art Articulation Presentations

Four Lower Sixth students: Annie M, Mette H, Isabella E, and Halley R delivered amazing Art Articulation Presentations on a wide variety of art – from photography to architecture. They delved into the contexts of the artists, their inspirations and contemporaries, and gave well researched opinions on the works themselves. All of this was judged by our resident art historian, Mr Brown, who gave constructive and insightful feedback.

Q: Why do you think these talks are important? 

These are an important aspect of the super-curricular extension that we offer to students outside the classroom. It is an opportunity for us to invite in national or international experts in the field of the talk. It is also an opportunity for staff members to deliver aspects of their postgraduate research or areas of academic interest. We hope to inspire those students who aim to make applications to the most competitive university courses to develop their thinking and research skills in a similar way.

Q: What other initiatives are there in place that stretch our pupils academically?

Within the classroom, we track the quality of differentiation that is offered to challenge and stretch our more able students.

Outside the classroom, we also offer a range of enrichment programmes. Among these are the Oxbridge Programme, the Competitive Courses Programme (for those about to make university applications), and we hold 18 clubs of academic enrichment within the co-curriculum. This includes, as examples, the Model United Nations, Astronomy GCSE, and Mandarin lessons. This year, our Fourth Form students had the opportunity to take part in a nationwide Oxford University research study on critical thinking. In addition to this, we have been delighted to welcome Elijah DeVaughn, Rhodes Scholar from Oxford University, who has been working with our History and Politics students.

Q: What are your plans for the society going forward?

We are now developing students who have taken a particular interest in an academic area to develop their research and public speaking skills to the same level; and we hope to include student lectures among these events. We also hope to ask that the experts we draw in for these events work on an individual level with our students and give longer term investment in their academic development.

MP Victoria Prentis Visit