Wednesday, October 21, 2015

King Lear 5: I ii - Excellent foppery

The fifth moment in a series on King Lear via ShowMe, looking at Edmund's response to his father's belief that people are behaving badly due to planetary movements:

TY Books: Zusak, Ellis

Two more recommendations from TY pupils preparing for their Extended Essays:

Henry Carroll has read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak:
"I thought this book was brilliant, I really enjoyed the way the narrator could see what Liesel was thinking as well as what was actually happening: there is a lot of debate over whether the book is narrated by death itself, which I only heard about after reading the book, and this revitalised my interst in the book. My favourite scene from the book is when Liesel takes a book from a Nazi burning. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would strongly recommend it."

Saffron Perceval comments on American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis:
"If anyone has the idea to read this book I'd recommend re-thinking that idea. It's not that the book is written badly, in fact it's just the opposite. The style is very plain in the sense it's blunt. I think there should be an age limit of only sixteen year olds and up for who can read this book. In the rating I answered quite enjoyable but this doesn't quite fit the reading experience. Nor do any of the other options available. I think the terms harsh, controlled, careful apply and bleak. American Psycho I think can only be described as a black comedy about a world we all see but never admit to be there."

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

House Speech Competition

Another review of the recent TY House Speech Competition, this time from a different angle, by Alex Lawrence:

The lead-up to who would get picked  for the House Speeches was a tense situation to say the least. Everyone in Stackallan was convinced that they would be cruelly chosen to stand up in front of the whole school, petrified, and speak on some random topic of their choice. The days slipped by and before we all knew it we were trudging up to the BSR, like convicted men taking their last walk to the gallows. The whole affair went by pretty quickly and the only bit I really remember was when Mr Jameson went to call the names for Stack, I was praying to anyone who was listening that I wouldn’t be chosen: it felt a lot like The Hunger Games come to think of it.
Felix Mertes was the first to be called, then Wenzel Manegold and finally...Gabriel. The relief I felt when he said Gabriel’s name was as if I had just been plucked from the jaws of death. During the lead-up to the practices and the real thing, we were required to help out with those writing their speeches. In the English classes we would listen to what they had got so far and then offer pointers and help with it. The biggest hassle for some seemed to be which subject to base their speech on and not the actual writing which in my opinion was mostly very fluent, witty and clever.
Most of the speakers did eventually find a topic they thought would be good to speak on, even though they may have had to change their ideas: for example, Henry went through football to Irish accents before he landed on human trafficking. The speakers for Stack were a pretty mixed bunch when it came to nerves. Felix was very stressed and was constantly going over his speech and timing himself and so on, Wenzel seemed perfectly calm and I didn’t see him practising furiously before a practice once and Gabe acted as if there was no difference and didn’t even talk about it. The night of the speeches came very quickly but talking to some of those who were speaking although they were all terrified, had a good speech ready to go.
I was very impressed right away with the first speech by Sasha Cole on Bad Habits, and was struck by how clearly all the speakers spoke and how witty some of the speeches were, like Richard Dennis with his speech on Silly Laws or Iman talking about indoor plumbing, which as one might expect brought about a fair bit of laughter. There was a huge spectrum of speeches, ranging from some very funny speeches like Iman’s, to some very serious topics like Felix Mertes and Wenzel’s speeches on the Refugee Crisis in Syria. The whole night was very enjoyable and I was also very proud when Felix and Wenzel came first and second overall and Stack also was the winning house, though this wasn’t too much of a surprise as they were both very good with their  delivery and had some very strong points in their speeches - especially Wenzel who made it personal when he talked about two refugees his family had taken in. 

I thought that the House Speeches was a great event and thought that it benefitted those who spoke greatly as it forced them out of their comfort zones and into the unknown.                                

Friday, October 16, 2015

Louise O'Neill visit

As part of Bullying Awareness Week 2015, the writer Louise O'Neill yesterday read and talked to Sixth and Fifth Formers. Her first book was Only Ever Yours, but most discussion was on her latest, the powerful Asking for It, particularly around issues of sexual asssault, sexual consent and social media.

Louise read an extract from the novel, in which the central character, Emma, is devastated in the aftermath of a terrible event. She then talked about how the long-term effects of bullying (even for a five year-old), and how the impact can be long-lasting. She said both researching and writing Asking for It had finally left her almost mentally exhausted, and how it is only now that she feels ready to write again. She answered many questions from the pupils in a highly articulate, persuasive and often amusing manner. 

The animation below about consent was mentioned, and is worth looking at.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

'Hamlet' via NTLive

Tonight, all Fifth Form go to the NTLive showing of Hamlet, featuring Benedict Cumberbatch, at the cinema in Dundrum. Here is the official trailer.

King Lear 4: I i - Unruly waywardness

The fourth moment from analysed via ShowMe comes from the very end of the first scene.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

TY Books: Ness, Hinton

Two more Extended Essay book recommendations.

Sebastian Fitzgibbon recommends Patrick Ness's More Than This:

"This book blew me away. For me, the problem with a lot of books is that after the first few pages, the lack of intrigue stops. Not all books do this, but many have in my experience. Patrick Ness writes such an incredibly laid out story that literally every few pages something happens. It opens up with the main character committing suicide by drowning himself in violent seas. Then it goes to him waking up: he can't move, he can't see, he can't see and he can't see. Slowly but surely he regains all his abilities and begins to walk around, completely and utterly, alone. Not a single soul in sight. Where is he, was my first question, Hell? Heaven? Limbo? A new planet or another universe? Is he just dreaming and did he really die? You don't even know if those questions will be answered for you. By the end of the book I desperately hoped for a sequel while at the same time was worried the book would be ruined as a result. This was my experience when reading this book. In conclusion I would give it 10/10 and highly recommend to people to read it."

And Emily Torkington has read S.E. Hinton's classic, The Outsiders:

"The Outsiders is a book that is set in America in the 1960's. It is about two rival gangs called the socs and the greasers. It follows a fourteen year old boy called Ponyboy Curtis, his brothers and fellow gang members, and tells the story of some of their struggles and life events. 

I thought that this was a very good book, and it really kept me hooked until the end of the novel. I liked that this was based on real gangs in America, and that made the story even more interesting and realistic, along with the fact that the author wrote this book when she was 15, and had spent time with both these groups. I would highly recommend this book to people."

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

King Lear 3: I i - See better

The third revision ShowMe from King Lear also looks at a moment in Act I scene i, one which introduces a key trope in the play.

TY House Speech Competition

Here is an account of the recent TY House Speech Competition, organised by the Department, by Nyla Jamieson:

After just over a week of getting ready, the ten speakers who had been chosen had to give their speeches in front of the school. 

Nathalie Verwijs was the presenter of the evening. She started the event off by welcoming us all and introducing the judges, Mr McCarthy, Mr. Duffy and last year’s house speeches winner, Ella Ejase-Tobrise. She then went on to introduce the first speaker, Sasha Cole.

Sasha was speaking for Iona House about bad habits. This, I feel was a relevant topic. I thought she did very well taking into account how difficult it must have been to be the first speaker. She started her speech with examples of bad habits like biting your nails, gambling and saying the word “like” repeatedly in a sentence. I thought that this was a good opening as I personally can relate to the latter of the three. She then went on to talk about a story which gave the moral that the longer you have a bad habit the more difficult it is to get rid of it. Sasha then gave some helpful advice on how to get rid of bad habits by replacing them with better ones. She left us with the question “how are you going to break your bad habits?” This in my opinion was a strong ending as it left us with something to think about. 

Nathalie came back on to introduce the next speaker, Richard Dennis. He was speaking about stupid laws. He made it personal to his audience by giving a Columba's rule of not being allowed to swim outside of the school as an example. He proceeded to give us many humorous examples like how prostetution is legal in Sweden but hiring a prostetute is not. He added more humour still by telling us that the penalty for jumping off a building is death and followed it with the comment “Who'd have thought it?”

The tone was then changed as Felix Mertes who was speaking for Stackallan on the refugee crisis, came on. He told us the story of a  father and son who were refugees who were tripped up by a camerawoman and while they went on to become football stars she lost her job. He stressed how these happy stories are few and far between as only 2% of the refugees reach Europe and even then are rarely allowed to stay. He went on to the example of his home country, Germany making the speech more personal. He acknowledged that “cultures will clash and there will be difficulties” but he urged us to take in the refugees. He seemed to have a strong opinion, spoke clearly and knew the facts. This made his speech believable. 

Saffron Perceval then talked about short people problems. She gave a funny speech about the issues of being cute, friends holding things over your head, shelves and getting lost. 

Felix Alyn Morgan then gave a very dynamic speech about Wales. His topics varied from stereotypes to rugby. His pride was evident when he told us of the 26 times that Wales have won the Six Nations. He then involved the audience by giving a lesson in Welsh and following that he talked about the famous Welsh singer, Tom Jones, before bursting into song. He sung a part of Jones’s song “It's not unusual to be loved by anyone.”

Iman Samimi then spoke about toilets. He managed to make his speech very amusing while making it factual. An example of a fact I learnt from his speech is that modern plumbing dates back to 6000 B.C.

Nathalie then introduced Kitty Morris who gave  one of my favourite speeches of the night. She spoke about being the unloved child. In my opinion she started the speech off very well with the line of importance in her family which ended up with her not only being ranked lower than all of her family members but also behind her dogs and the hockey sticks. She proceeded to give many examples of how unloved she is which were put in such a way that they were really funny. 

Wenzel Manegold was the only person who actually volunteered to do a speech. He represented Stackallan and for the second time in the evening we heard about refugees. He did, however, manage to make his speech different to his housemate Felix’s. He told us a personal story of two refugees that he knows, Sami and Ali. He told of how Ali was an orphan. He was tortured in  Libya and so he tried to move to Italy but the boat sank meaning he ended up in Austria. From there he managed to make his way to Germany. Wenzel highlighted the importance of integrating the refugees. He left us with a question to ponder on: “ What do you do for the refugees?”

From Hollypark we had Sasha Sharykina who spoke about fears. She listed her fears and then advised us on overcoming our fears. She spoke about the first man in space and told us of how he faced his fears. She encouraged us to do the same and left us with the inspirational quote “ it's okay to have fears but something that's not okay is to let those fears control you.”

Nathalie then introduced the final speaker Henry Carroll. He gave his speech on human trafficking. From him we received the shocking fact that a slave is only worth €72 on average which is just more than a game of Fifa 16. He involved the audience twice in his speech requesting a show of hands. I thought that Henry was another very good speaker. 

The judges then decided on the winners with first place going to Wenzel from Stackallan, second place going to Felix Mertes and third place going to Henry. 

Overall I think it was an enjoyable and interesting evening and all the speakers did a very commendable job. Congratulations to the winner Wenzel Manegold.

Monday, October 12, 2015

TY Recommendations 2: 'The Curious Incident'

Alex Lawrence is reading Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time for his Extended Essay, and writes:

"The book is very intricate and shows a lot about a mental condition from the perspective of the one who is affected, which in itself I think is a unique theme and extremely interesting. The book follows the adventure of a fifteen year old boy, called Christopher Boone, as he tries to find out who killed a neighbour's dog and in turn discovers a lot about his family, the situation of his parents and himself. We are not told specifically Christopher's condition but the book refers to Asperger's syndrome, high-functioning autism and savant syndrome. The book shows what it is like to be a outsider, and in particular of one with these conditions and shows how they might see the world. For these reasons I would highly recommend the book to others looking for a interesting and eye opening read."

Saturday, October 10, 2015

TY Book Recommendation: 'After'

Over the next couple of weeks we will, as usual at this time of the year, be posting brief recommendations of books that TY pupils have read/are reading for their Extended Essays (which will be written after half-term). The first is Morris Gleitzman's After, recommended by Felix Mertes:

After is about a young Jewish boy named Felix who is trying to survive in Nazi-occupied Poland. On his way he meets generous and friendly people, but also cruel and dangerous ones.

I liked the book because I am very interested in World War II. It is written in the slightly naive perspective of a 10 year old. He therefore interprets events in a childish manner, which is very interesting to see.

The story is also very good, full of tension, drama and unexpected events. The story is also very realistic, and likely to have happened. I like that as the book doesn't exaggerate and gives a good view if what things were like back then.

I would recommend this book for people over 13, as some tragic and sad incidents occur. You also need to have a background knowledge to fully understand the book.

But in the end I would highly recommend this book and give it a 9/10.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

King Lear 2: I i - Love, and be silent

The second key moment in a series from King Lear's opening scene.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

King Lear 1: I i - confusion and uncertainty

Here is the first of a series of video/audio analyses of key moments in King Lear for sharpening up revision. First, the very first lines of the play. This is the fine new James Shapiro book referred to, 1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear.

Friday, October 02, 2015

The Refugee Crisis

At last Sunday's Transition Year House Speech Competition, Felix Mertes came second with an excellent speech on the current refugee crisis. Here is the text of his speech:

You might have heard of the father and his son,  who were running for their lives through Hungarian border control. The father, carrying his 6 year old son on the back, was tripped up cruelly by an camerawoman and fell on the ground. A few weeks later, the two Syrian refugees arrived in Spain, and the father was offered a job at a football academy. As it turns out he was one of the best Syrian football coaches. Last weekend, his son accompanied Real Madrid superstar Ronaldo into the stadium. Things had changed. The refugees had found a safe, new home and a job while the camerawoman had lost hers.

Not many stories about refugees end well. About a week ago, a three year old refugee was washed ashore. The toddler had drowned after the boat he was on with his family had sunk.
The people in those two stories were Syrians, fleeing from their war torn country. And so do 12 million other Syrians, nearly twice the Irish population. They flee from the dictator Assad's reign of terror and Isis's horrible regime. There is no peaceful spot left in Syria.

Of the twelve million Syrian refugees, only 2% have reached Europe. On their way they faced obstacles such as dangerous boat trips, difficult walks, harsh border controls and barbed wire. Not many could overcome those difficulties. Families were split, people died and some got stuck on the way.

The Syrian refugees who have reached their destiny now face the struggle of being allowed to stay. That shouldn't even be the case, as under international law all refugees have a right for asylum, or simply a right to stay.

However, Europe in general is not very willing to accomodate those Syrian refugees. Some refugee opposers for example claim that "only" economic refugees, refugees who flee from poverty, are trying to stay in Europe. That is wrong as 62% of refugees come directly from war torn countries like Afghanistan and Syria.

There are also claims that there is not enough space for all the refugees in Europe. But how come then that Syria's neighbouring countries like Lebanon or Jordan can hold so many refugees? In underdeveloped Lebanon, 1 out of 5 people are Syrians. So how come strong Europe is struggling with only a little amount of refugees ?

Now in fairness, some countries do show some support. In Germany for example, refugees arriving at at a train station were welcomed by a cheering crowd. Citizen initiatives are  providing language classes, food and other basic needs. But the support is limited: for example right-wing extremists attack asylum seekers and burn their homes. You don't really see those pictures though as the image of the helping German has become more dominant, although asylum homes are attacked as much as ever before. 

Now I don't want this to become a speech about the German refugee crisis, but I just want to say that I think it is on Germany, which has a powerful status, to welcome and integrate refugees in order to set an example. If my country could do that, I would be very proud of it.

But in general, the refugee crisis affects us all. It will be on all of us to help and welcome these people. Cultures will clash and there certainly will be difficulties. But if we do help, it will benefit to us all. Many, not all, of the refugees are educated and young and countries with an ageing population will need those people. Welcomed refugees will be thankful and even the smallest things will make a difference.

Also, see it as a test for Europe. Europe has been very peaceful and dealt with the past issues successfuly. If we can represent the ideas of Europe like peace, friendship and unity, we will be able to deal with this issue as well. It is on us. Will we accept behaviour like from the camerawoman ? Or will we deal with those people and integrate the refugees ? If we do, they will be a great addition to us and will make us even more colourful. Thank You.