August 2, 2023

Rector’s eNews 23 – 2 August 2023

/ Newsletters

In the course of my last eNews I alluded both to Oxbridge Summer Seminars and to the programme at Yale attended over the June-July holidays by Nic Pitt. Many of the top universities in the world such as Harvard, Yale, Oxford and Cambridge attract bright schoolboys and schoolgirls to their summer schools held in the Northern Hemisphere summer in June-July.

These are designed to foster wide-ranging interests and to challenge potential students well beyond the bounds of any school syllabus, as well as interesting them in attending those top universities/colleges.

The exact programmes which they offer will vary from year to year, but I asked Nic for a little more detail as to precisely which courses he followed and what they entailed so that I could give you, in the body of this eNews, some sort of flavour and understanding of what your sons might experience should they wish to attend such a summer school.

Nic said that he had the option of choosing one of four programmes: Innovations in Science and Technology (IST), Literature, Philosophy and Culture (LPC), Politics, Law and Economics (PLE), and Solving Global Challenges (SGC). He selected the SGC programme.

Over the two weeks of the programme he attended three seminars: Medical Racism: Past and Present; Freedom, Existentialism and the Metaverse, and Crossing the Nuclear Rubicon: Investigating Nuclear Deterrence and the Road to Peace. He chose these out of over one thousand options and he reflects that these seminars were extremely engaging and supported a number of debates between students and seminar leaders.

He attended four lectures: Creating Change in an Ever-Changing World, Empowering Young People for Challenges in Global Mental Health, International Law of Intelligence, and Political CEO. After these lectures, the students had break-out discussions in smaller groups where they debated points made by the lecturers and shared their own personal views on these topics.

Then over the course of two days, the students had a symposium in which they were given a hypothetical “country”, some background about this “country” and general information regarding it. They were tasked to come up with creative and well-considered ways in which to tackle various problems associated with their “country”, and a few of the presentations were viewed by members of the current United Nations.

Throughout the broader programme, Nic was involved in a further project called Social Beliefs and Constructs and he presented a thirty-minute paper on religion. Nic indicates that the seminar and lectures were extremely valuable and developed his hunger to learn, but that one of the most telling features of the overall programme was his meeting people from over 150 different countries and his beginning to grapple with different cultures and different perspectives on life.

I thought you might be interested to learn of Nic’s experience at Yale University which is northeast of New York City and it may be that you would like to consider your son attending such a summer school in years to come.

On an entirely different matter, last week we were visited by Emma Sadleir who not only has an effective Digital Law Company but also speaks in an animated way on the dangers of social media to the young and not so young. Emma made a presentation to our boys in a way which was both accurate and shocking in many respects.

One of the issues about which she spoke was sextortion which is “the practice of extorting money or sexual favours from someone by threatening to reveal evidence of their cyber sexual activity.” A teenage boy may post a sexual image of himself which then leads to a chain of threats and the extortion of money from him. Emma mentioned how this has become an operation run by international criminal gangs. One of the main target groups for the sextortionists is teenage boys in private schools and several police forces from across the globe have confirmed that there is a rise of sextortion cases. In the Western Cape, the MEC for Education, David Maynier, said that the number of cases was rising and it is important to educate our young people on social media risks so they become “positive cyber citizens”.

In tutor groups, the boys have looked at a video of sextortion from the UK National Crime Agency which explains what they will need to do to guard against this as some may have already come across this phenomenon. Should they have done so, it needs to be reported to a trusted adult and, in the Michaelhouse context, this could be our School Counsellor, Tim Jarvis. Emma Sadlier’s Digital Law Company could provide help in such matters.

To read the full Rector’s eNews click here

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