Scholarship and Enrichment

By James Smith, Scholarship Co-ordinator

Each of us has surely experienced the thrill of learning something new. My colleague in Physics recently shared a problem he gives to his students: if you were shrunk down to the size of a flea and put in the bottom of a blender, with 30 seconds before it turned on, how would you escape? I will leave you to consider the answer which, when found, adds a little bit to our understanding of the physical world and the different forms of life on it.

Enrichment at Gordonstoun aims to provide all students with opportunities to take their learning beyond the confines of the curriculum. It seeks to build on what Kurt Hahn called their ‘enterprising curiosity’ by encouraging them to look further into their subjects, and into the matters that are important to our societies. In doing so we further our objective of supporting students to think, believe and act as international citizens, while also preparing them for further education.

One of my favourite times in the week is a Thursday afternoon, just before dinner. This is when the Dialogue Society meets to discuss personal, global and ethical issues. Students from all year groups and all sorts of backgrounds share their perspectives and seek to understand each other more deeply. The Debating and Model United Nations groups, sixth form lectures, and enrichment seminars also provide extensive opportunities for students to research and think critically about the big questions relevant today. Seminar topics this year have covered areas such as Peace and Conflict Studies, Media and Fake News, Philology, and Oceanography. Many of our outside speakers have commented on the students’ high level of engagement, their awareness of our changing world, and their ability to ask the right questions. This is something that makes us, as staff, extremely proud of our community.

Being part of that community is always energising. My colleagues in the classroom, on the sports field, in the Houses and on expedition, (like the physics teacher who tested my knowledge of the relationship between mass, area and volume), constantly inspire our students to a love of learning. The students, in turn, challenge us with new and unexpected questions; a good example is the Year 9 who recently asked me whether speaking a foreign language makes a difference to how you think.

The American author Brian Herbert said, “The capacity to learn is a gift, the ability to learn is a skill, the willingness to learn is a choice”. Whatever the background of our students, they come to us with the capacity to learn. Our focus on enrichment helps them to develop the skills to enhance this. Most importantly, though, in being part of a curious and enthusiastic learning community, our students find it much easier to make that choice.