Oxford Master Class – A Student Perspective by Tanae Rao

On May 20th, the SMT Honours students were given an opportunity to develop new ideas, network and expand our horizons through the Oxford Masterclass held at Churchie. The workshop was composed of four lectures and a short debate. The first lecture was given by Ms. Julie Arliss and introduced us to some philosophical concepts such as empiricism and rationalism. This was especially relevant in the context of the Year 11s beginning to think about their ToK presentations and the Year 12s in the endgame of the ToK Essay. The next talk concerned tolerance and freedom, with Mr. Jeffrey Hodges providing an eloquent argument for his unconventional position. The third lecture, given by Dr. Chris O’Neill of Oxford University, was about the psychology of achievement and synchronised with the ‘growth mindset’ model espoused by QASMT to spark students’ personal development. The final lecture was particularly unique, with Ms. Julie Arliss once again discussing philosophy, but this time examining love and relationships through Plato’s Symposium. This was all followed by a debate about whether students should be allowed to use cellphones in schools, with two well-thought-out speeches followed by contributions from students either in support of or against the resolution. Overall, the ideas and approaches discussed in the Oxford Masterclass were a welcome extension to our learning, complementing the IB curriculum as well as introducing fields we would not have otherwise known existed.

Tanae Rao, Year 12 Honours Student