Jaw: a spring term round-up

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By Alastair Harden, Teacher of Classics

The spring term’s Jaw programme opened with an address by Clive Case, Senior Chaplain of Charterhouse. Taking on a theme which has been on everyone’s mind this year, Clive gave an engrossing, personal and thoroughly Carthusian talk on the value of silence. The following week, Al McConville and Clare Jarmy took up the theme along with several students who talked about their fantastic experience at the Plum Village Buddhist monastery and meditation retreat. Silence and mindfulness penetrate every aspect of life there, and the students were left with an appetite to bring some of this mental harmony into life at Bedales.

Student participation in Jaw has been strong this term: the annual LGBT Jaw was given by our own LGBT Society, ably steered by Will Morrison with the assistance of Olivia Bury and Aidan Hall. Putting LGBT rights into its historical perspective, they highlighted how privileged we are to be living in a time and place where everyone has the right to their own sexual orientation without fear of persecution. In February, to commemorate one hundred years of women’s suffrage, the Garrett Society under Scarlett Watkins and Rufus Seagrim addressed Blocks 3, 4 and 5 in the Lupton Hall in a passionate call-to-arms against complacence and quotidian sexist behaviours and policies.

The slot following the half-term break is the traditional place for Jaw Debate, and so it was that the motion was tabled: “This House would serve no meat”. A series of passionate addresses from the proposition, under Ellie Leonard-Biebuyck, Maisy Redmayne and Thea Sesti, were not enough to pass the motion, defeated as it was by a sober and balanced summary from Feline Charpentier following a deft rebuttal to vegetarianism from Arthur Lingham, and – the highlight of the debate – a wily and powerful address from a microphone-wielding Blossom Gottlieb, whose barnstorming debut on the Bedales floor left the audience impressed and convinced.

The spring term also sees the annual Global Awareness Jaw, an important fixture which this year is given by Miriam Mason-Sesay, the Country Director of Educaid in Sierra Leone. The Spring term will end, as always, with one of the fixtures from the Christian liturgical calendar and this year’s Passiontide service, co-organised with the Music Department, promises to continue the high standard of music which we have seen at Jaws, assemblies and concerts this year. These special services are very much in the great tradition of the old ‘Sunday Jaw’, and we’re keen to retain the practise of having hymns. So, guard your ears: there’s going to be singing…

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Questions for International Women’s Day

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By Alice McNeill, Teacher of Religious Studies and Philosophy

International Women’s Day (IWD) is perhaps especially salient this year as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of near-universal suffrage, although this in itself begs some uncomfortable questions about whether we have made enough progress in the last century.

‘Press for progress’ is the theme of this year’s IWD, and this captures the renewed energy and determination we need to have in order to honour the sacrifices made by those fighting for equality before us. IWD is a great opportunity to reflect on where we are and where we need to get to. This is especially important for us in schools. Are our classrooms equal? Where are our unconscious biases? Are we accepting culturally embedded norms of gender stereotyped behaviours? Do we call out sexism?

Emma Stone faced a huge backlash this week for commenting on unequal representation in the Best Director category at the Oscars. High profile female MPs and academics are similarly shamed when they dare to speak out about sexism.  Is this echoed in our schools? All educators need to ‘press for progress’ by daring to ask these questions. Often, there is no straightforward answer, but in the very act of questioning, we push for a more honest and equal environment.

There is a huge push for more girls to enter STEM careers, which is excellent, but why, in 2018, does there need to be such a push? Why have we not got to a position of gender blindness? Surely, this would be the most empowering position for everyone?

 

By Abi Wharton, Head of Global Awareness

For this year’s IWD, we have continued to concentrate on period poverty in Global Awareness. This is not a new issue; people are aware of girls and women around the world who do not have the resources to afford sanitary products, highlighted in Ken Loach’s film I, Daniel Blake.

What is perhaps not so well known is that 1 in 10 girls aged between 14 and 21 in the UK cannot afford sanitary products and 137,000 girls have missed school in the past year due to period poverty. We understand the vulnerability associated with this stage in a young woman’s life and this increases anxiety and a feeling of a lack of self-worth. The stigma attached to periods means that this subject is still taboo, making the problem even worse. On International Women’s Day we must work to end the stigma and begin campaigning for free sanitary products for girls in low-income families to follow Scotland’s lead. Take a look at #EndPeriodPoverty and expect a campaign and potential solutions from GA students soon.