National Gifted Education Week
Pictured above (L-R): Maeve Cairns, Angela Duong, Ishaan Haikerwal, Rohaan Haikerwal, Guneet Kaur, Demi Politakis, Natasha Rajkumar, Tobias Robertson
As part of National Gifted Education Week, students applied for a sponsored place to attend the Gifted and Talented Student Conference held in Brisbane on 15 May 2017. Congratulations to the abovementioned students who engaged in a day of thinking and exploring multiple perspectives as representatives of QAHS.
Academy Conferences provides world class “thinking days” at which students engage with a wide range of topics and a balanced academic programme aimed at stimulating thought beyond the constraints of the curriculum. The focus is upon topics which can be approached from many different disciplines so that students begin to see connections between different areas of study and the bigger picture. The content is fast paced and differentiated to meet the needs of highly able learners with a focus on important and enduring concepts. There is no duplication of traditional school topics, and students benefit from a university style of learning in which their knowledge is broadened and their critical abilities upgraded with new thinking tools.
The Academy Conference was an unforgettable experience of radical questioning and deep insight. Discussions regarding life and death, government authority, and time – these were all focused upon what we as people may consider, and what great minds before us may or may have considered. We were also introduced to the ‘curve-ball question’ that is typically asked in Cambridge or Oxford University Interviews; vague, ambiguous and altogether random questions were thrown at us. With the guidance of lecturer Julie Arliss we were able to break down the main components of each question to create our own answers with our own imagination. Last but not least, we were given the debate title “This house believes that Love is not a Commodity to be traded.” The argument supporting this claim discussed matters such as polygamy and gender equality, while the argument against discussed exchanging physical intimacy that is considered ‘love’ for wealth and material possessions. My personal arguments were supportive of the main claim, however I instead discussed genuine love as a core emotion of simplicity, and that all of the examples mentioned by both presenters were not examples of genuine love, as there were no moralities of privacy or emotional connection between the people involved. The experience allowed for all of us to reconsider our initial understanding of the aforementioned topics, to bring about a new and exciting perspective.
Last Monday, 8 young, bright students, of which we have many at QAHS, embarked on a journey to the Gifted and Talented Conference. The day consisted of four thought provoking sessions. I personally found the day enjoyable, yet mentally demanding as the concepts discussed were important and highly intellectual in nature. The event was heavily information based and the links that our school makes in TOK to knowledge and the importance of our learnings, enabled us to gain a deeper understanding of the advanced nature of the TOK-y topics presented. Issues such as who should run a country and the importance and elements of a ‘good’ life were balanced with the more light-hearted session regarding the Oxbridge entry questions. Specific question examples included “If you were a grapefruit would you be seeded or unseeded and why?” “Tell us about a banana” “Why does the word ‘God’ and ‘I’ have a capital letter?” “What is Christmas?”. These sorts of abstract questions allowed us to invert our thinking and expand the lateral mind. Lengthy discussions on these impressive responses were had much to the enjoyment of our group. The day was both mentally stimulating and rigorous and the concepts discussed were highly complicated however our group valiantly delved into the new and challenging situations. The final debate discussion involved two inputs from our school from myself and Demi Politakis. The topic was on whether love was a commodity to be traded. Some excellent points were made in this issue which did rather unexpectedly encompass a vast range of societal situations and complications such as sexism, human rights and whether human nature is intrinsically animalistic or have we evolved to a point where our concept of emotions and relationships were more sophisticated at base value. Overall the conference was a success. I feel personally that I was able to take away something, including an appreciation of the multitude of opportunities Queensland Academies provides us with.