The Day In The Life of a Mother in The Byzantine Empire

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It is currently Januarius 4 535, and the day has just begun. Being in one of the greatest empires in the world, one can feel a warm sense of security and pride in waking up in one of the best provinces – beautiful Cappadocia. Quickly, I must introduce myself, my name is Popilia Angelus, and I am a woman currently living in Claudiopolis in Cappadocia with my two children, Aureliu and Sergia, and my wonderful husband Paternus. I am rather grateful for my social position, as my family have always been closely linked to the vending of olive oil and fish sauces and so I was conveniently born on a bed of stability and trade deals. However, I consider myself quite independent and often try to keep myself busy with various activities – which I will be including later on!

MORNING: I start off the day at the crack of dawn to admire the elegant architecture around me that lay gracefully upon the unceasing green pastures. My favourite thing about the morning, is the distant but clear eyeshot of the incredible Hagia Sophia that wonderfully basks in the beautiful Turkish sun at this time. She is such a beautiful structure that is constantly capturing the foundation of this country and the pride of our empire – our faith in Him. I also often take this time to pray and thank our Father for our blessed morning, and today I have decided that my thoughts go to blessed Hagia Sophia – may she forever be pure and clean in the blood of Jesus and never have to fall to any other power, Amen.

Of course, I tend to wake up a bit peckish and so I wake up to cook for the family. Like most days, ientaculum (breakfast) consists of a delicious selection of honey, dates and bread all washed down with some milk. Aureliu and I often have fight over breakfast, as young Hercules here thinks that having the same meal everyday is boring and that he wants some sort of palette cleanser but Mr here needs to realise that we’re in Turkey and he can’t just pop into China every other morning to get a nice gulp of tea and that he needs to grow big and strong before he goes into the army in a few years. Sergia is a sweetheart at breakfast and just adorably nibbles her food, but she never really has much to contribute to breakfast as I’ve taught her to be polite and not inadvertently spit her wheat everywhere during breakfast – so when we marry her off, they won’t send her back. Aureliu is planning to follow in his father’s footsteps as Paternus is currently away training in Constantinople and so he isn’t joining us at breakfast today, and the mornings aren’t really the same without my husband – poor Aureliu is almost drowning in the femininity!

Aureliu typically goes off to Ludus about twenty minutes away whilst Sergia stays with me at home to practice cooking and weaving – but she’s absolutely useless and so this takes significantly longer than it should do and so this preoccupies my morning.

AFTERNOON: At around midday, Sergia and I bond over cooking a large cena consisting of delicious meats, eggs, olives, dessert (with honey and nuts) alongside some sweet honeyed wine for us and Aureliu as he comes back from school. Today, as we ate, Aureliu spoke about how they are currently reading the Iliad and how incredible Homer’s tales are – this is good as some aspiration for Aureliu would be splendid. Imagine, us having our own epic warrior in the family – it would be wonderful for the Angelus name (and I can finally tell Valeria that my son is in fact doing great and that just because Cassius made it to Rhetor doesn’t mean he’s conquered the empire). The afternoon doesn’t consist of much but I personally like to sit outside in the garden and read some chapters of the Bible. The sun is still golden and beaming at this time, and so a peaceful read always seems to relax me and continue to grow my knowledge and strengthen my faith in God as I am comforted by how he will forever save me in my time of need – and since I never went to school when I was a child, most of my vocabulary came from this glorious book and so I can literally say that I can only speak the word of God!

NIGHT: As the evening hits and the sun begins to go down, we come inside to have a final light meal of shrimps and molluscs with bread, whilst further talking about the highlights of the day. Lastly, we all sit around to pray and thank the Lord for the day He has given us before then moving into our separate rooms and then going to sleep. A pretty normal day. Bonum nocte!

Christ’s Hospital fails at encouraging creative thinking

ch kids outsideAs someone who has been at Christ’s Hospital since year 7 and has grown and developed my personal taste and goals for the future during this time, I do find myself conflicted with the thought that the environment that I have developed these plans in has made a huge contribution to what I want to do with myself. When I was much younger, up until the beginning of secondary school, I had an almost certain plan that I would become a doctor, big ol’ Dr Humado, with my own adorable clinic somewhere in London and this inertia to think outside of that career was screwed shut by the fact that my late auntie had given me a stethoscope before she passed which convinced my parents that that was me and nothing else was. Until I came to Christ’s Hospital. It may have been the realisation that “big girl” maths and science was significantly less interesting to me than previously, but I found that my career path was veering ever so far away from the sciences and closer to the more liberal and artistic route that I find myself comfortably fixed in currently, in year 12. So what must have happened to my ideal prospect as I entered the realm of boarding school, was it because the school oozes creativity in its ethos or am I just a special case? We’ll find out in this blog post – or at least my opinion.

 

ARGUMENT- they totally don’t give a rat’s tail for creativity:

CHRIST’S HOSPITAL, A SCHOOL LIKE NO OTHER. As a top academic school in the UK, the school has a rigid mindset when it comes to the subjects they offer. According to the Russell Group website [https://russellgroup.ac.uk/policy/publications/informed-choices/], the best universities often turn down candidates due to their sixth form subject choices. And so of course, to boost up that beautiful percentage of students who succeed to the top, we mostly only offer facilitating subjects. These are subjects that the Russell Group take more seriously when considering applicants and therefore as the orthodox parent you are guaranteed your child’s success and getting into those crème-de-la-crème universities. However, this means more “casual” and creative subjects such as dance, and media studies aren’t even considered, and these are subjects that are although more stimulating creatively are instantly disregarded by the school. This could tend to show pupils who strive to go in a creative route with their life and want to take subjects that are more creatively motivating that this isn’t considered respectable by the best universities and can lead people to believe that if they don’t fixate their prospects on facilitating subjects such as Physics and Maths [{maths} which although does entail creative thinking for problem solving, pretty much more often than not has one or two actual answers, especially when you’re younger] they will fail in life. Evidence of this is pretty clear in how the careers newsletter that is sent out typically follows the same career paths – medicine, law, education and finance. Honestly us students, especially pubescent preteens/teenagers, generally do have these thoughts nice and early, and hence why a few people leave the school after GCSE, realising that they have more creative plans with their life and that we don’t offer the subjects that can help cater to this. For example, budding professional photographers, although we have Art and Design as GCSE and A Level/IB options and a Photography active that only runs once a week, you never really learn how to use the camera and how to perfect the art of it, so you’re not really getting the exposure that you need (hey hey).

According to this website here [https://theconversation.com/how-to-promote-creativity-in-the-classroom-51838], a step in sparking creativity in students is to use time “flexibly”, however with the rapid speed of Christ’s Hospital, flexibility is incredibly sparse, making it hard to even make a fully golden slice of toast before you’re whisked off to your next lesson. Even taking 5 minutes out of the lesson to have a brain break, or to do something creative such as some yoga maybe or drawing a lovely portrait to stick on your fridge at house can be incredibly detrimental to how the lesson is planned, and can often make pupils lose concentration which loses time in the lesson. This also means more prep, and who wants to allow some time for creative thinking by having more work to do at house? I guarantee you, in a survey, it would be pretty clear.

Our main priority is academics, but when we do let extracurricular activities enter our busy, studious lives, we tend to let the more creative actives fade into the background. As a school that offers such exciting creative actives such as the school newspaper The Broadie, why don’t we publicise the great work that is being done behind the scenes and the wonderful offspring of creativity that flows every week at least once if not twice a week from all of the different “clubs”? Instead, we shove the creativity under the rug like lazy children and rather romanticise the sports squads and the academic teams – which isn’t bad whatsoever as these members work incredibly hard but the balance could be a lot better. And why not form teams for creative groups to go to competitions alike to how we have highly praised matches for sports? They don’t have to be compulsory and it would stimulate vigor in members to explore their creative side. Why don’t we encourage this more often – for example, in my time at CH I’ve never seen a chess club, I’m so sure a few people would be down for that.

 

ARGUMENT – it’s not all doom and gloom:

Sure, I have made Christ’s Hospital out to be some kind of regimented establishment where we don’t even think about colour or patterns, but there are some positives that show that the school does indeed care about creativity in students. We do offer art, dt, music (as well as extensive lessons) and drama as options and make them compulsory for years 7 and 8, which some schools who rank themselves above others with the fact that they offer only Oxford’s finest A Levels and GCSEs could consider as “useless”. We could have eliminated doing DT especially as many Russell Group universities who offer artistic/engineering/architecture degrees typically prefer Art over DT but the school realise that offering more subjects with “reputability” that fuel creativity into students is incredibly beneficial for a growth mindset. And although I did have a coherent rant above over how CH don’t offer some subjects because they deem them not as respectable as facilitating subjects, I have never heard any teachers ever look down at “less academic” subjects’ departments and I have never heard anyone question the legitimacy of a subject in the school. The school wholeheartedly accept the arts and music into the culture as our ethos does lie upon the fact that we have people from all walks of life and different backgrounds, and so we can’t expect everyone to have the same goals in life, to become a doctor or a lawyer or a journalist. Especially in a course such as the IB, we have to take English (or whatever language is easiest) Literature and this really can help our minds explore our creative abilities through the literature we read and grow.

And although career wise, the school do focus on the more I like to call “stern parent friendly” jobs, when we do have speakers in the creative industry, they pretty much always end up inspiring many people such as myself to go into the world of creativity confidently and they never come in to scare the pupils away from the big bad monster that is old fashioned people shunning creative careers and repeatedly encourage actually releasing their creative minds into the world without fear.

And linking back to the website which shows you how to implement creativity into students, a step in expanding our creativity is by having fun teachers. And unexpectedly, although we dress like committed monks, we do have teachers (more often that not actually!) that can be fun and jovial, which is a completely unheard of description next to the term “teacher at a Christian Tudor boarding school in England” . These teachers often also help you with your work so that you become very independent and this independance in itself helps with creative thinking as you entertain ideas that you never would have if they had just blatantly told you what to do. And especially when you’re younger, teachers try to get you to induce creativity into all of your topics through projects such as making posters, presentations of any kind, writing poetry and story writing in English – you know, before mark schemes become relevant and the whole world becomes set into letter grades.

Now although it seems like my general conclusion would be that Christ’s Hospital don’t offer enough encouragement with creative thinking, I do actually believe that although the school could make a few adjustments to some of their attitudes to do with creativity as I’ve mentioned above, they aren’t doing too bad and as a “creative soul”, I would say that I don’t feel contained or trapped by the school’s utilities. And if anything I feel motivated by how the school bases itself off of facilitating subjects so that I can help make creative subjects such as Art and DT become part of those “serious” subjects by succeeding in them. And the school will happily cater to that, hence why I conclude that Christ’s Hospital does a decently alright if not yeah pretty good job in encouraging creative thinking.

Why We Entertain the Supernatural – The Annabelle Doll

The supernatural is defined as something that cannot be explained by scientific laws or the laws of nature.
The concept of the supernatural can be seen as far back as the Paleolithic (3.3 million years ago) and throughout history, humans have filled in gaps of the past with supernatural concepts. Thomas Aquinas (an Italian Dominican friar from the 13th century) described miracles as either “above nature” “beyond nature” or “against nature” and he is known to be one of the first people to explain the activities of the supernatural (using the term supernaturalis). If these phenomenons can exist with no logical explanation behind the actions of these beings that are beyond nature, how do we know that they actually exist? Why do people entertain these ideas, is it just because they can’t intricately think of a natural reason with supporting evidence behind the action, or is it because as humans the idea that there is more than our normal routine of living excites us and we entertain these thoughts as a form of entertainment to make our existence seem all so much more fascinating?
As a feeble and easily freaked out child, I always thought that the idea behind possession and the spirit world made absolute sense and I didn’t want to question the logic behind the phenomenon, as we didn’t and still don’t have any evidence that it doesn’t exist – spirits are always seen to be invisible or very faint and so why wouldn’t it make “sense” to exist! One phenomena that was particularly prevalent in my childhood was the “Annabelle” doll, and today in this blog post, I’ll be talking about the doll and why people probably generally believe in the supernatural.

A RUN DOWN ABOUT ANNABELLE:
• 1968
• She was bought second hand from a hobby store
• She was gifted as a present to Donna by her mother as a student nurse whilst she was living with someone called Angie – bit odd, but she was delighted to get her at first before all the possessive stuff started
• At first she made very small movements that seemed normal due to them moving her around
• Soon, the girls started to see notes around the room that said weird stuff such as “Help Lou” and “Help us” – bare in mind, Lou was a close friend of Angie and Donna and he said that they should simply get rid of Annabelle but clueless and relatively sane Angie and Donna were like noooo silly, it’s a doll.
• So one day, Annabelle was found with actual blood on her hands and the blood was thought to have actually come from the doll itself
• The girls then finally decided to call help in the form of a medium (a person that can see spirits and visions installed in the spirit world)
• The medium told the girls that a young girl named Annabelle was found dead in the land that the apartment was built on and that the spirit of Annabelle entered the doll because she was so fond of it
• Because the girls felt bad for the girl, they left the doll there because they didn’t want her to feel lonely – quite sweet, really
• The doll then went on to attack Lou, and the Warrens (who describe themselves as paranormal investigators) then decided to keep the doll in their museum alongside a cross and “DO NOT TOUCH” sign for visitors to see. Fair enough, really.

So why do I think that people believe in this? The evidence behind this spooky story seems creepily however relatively satisfactory to the minds of the committee of teenagers and adults on the Internet who enthuse in the supernatural and their activity. Actual blood seems freaky enough as it seemed to be seeping from the doll and the scratches on Lou seem fairly terrifying to think an animate object has attacked a human being – however, if we’re going to do it the TOK way, we need to think, are we sure? This could all have been an incredibly crude prank from some sociopathic character who is so truly messed up that they couldn’t tell the severity of the actions they were committing. As we have no proper intricate videographic evidence as back in the 60s, video footage wasn’t as accessible as now and so anything could have technically been made up? And how are we meant to believe in spirits if we can’t see them ourselves, and if they are beyond and above nature, how do some people have the ability to see into that realm that we don’t have access too? Does that mean as humans, we aren’t born as one race and these people must be completely superior to our lowly mortal selves. Or maybe, they’re absolutely mad and scam you out of your money, its all part of the ways of knowing and how we can certify that something does exist.

My First Impressions of TOK

“You do not realise now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” – John 13:7

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When I took the leap into deciding to do the IB course rather than the A Level course, I was initially quite worried about how I would be able to tackle the great mystery that was Theory of Knowledge. My initial idea of Theory of Knowledge was that we would take a concept that was obvious, rip it to shreds and then question our own knowledge – and to some more intellectual degree, I was kind of right!

We started to question the idea of knowledge and how we can determine whether we know something versus whether we assume that we know something. It shocked me quite a bit when at the end of the lesson, we were asked to state a fact that we actually knew was a fact, and my brain almost collapsed on itself when realising that I didn’t actually know anything. Or maybe I do know something? Maybe I know a lot of things. Gosh.

I found that TOK was quite electrifying, it makes you think outside of the social norm that we live in and the bubble of assumptions and emotions we simply survive in, it made me think more deeply into “facts” that I thought I knew but only really assumed. For example, is an orange really orange or is orange just a concept that we think we know associates with the fruit? [recreational drugs were not inclusive with the programme – it’s just all TOK!]

When initially thinking of TOK, I often associated it with Philosophy, and the nature of overthinking. In our lessons, we often like to take the ideas and theories of other philosophers and reach in for their deep intricate ideologies, smash them up so they’re exposed and up for judgement and then overthink them. Nonetheless, even though it may sound negative, I think everyone needs to have the TOK kind of thinking because we can’t just be completely happy with the idea of what the world is and sometimes existentialism does act as a refreshing cold drink on the normal boring predictability of life.

I look forward to the great horizon that is TOK because I’m really interested to see how I can break through the barrier of normality through my brain into the realm of pure, crystalline understanding.