Learning Through Lecture
18th November 2020

Our first Tytherington Lecture Day of the current academic year took place on Thursday, November 12. Unfortunately, due to current restrictions, we were not able to provide a live event, therefore the lectures have been pre-recorded and posted on Firefly. This has the advantage that students and other members of the school community can access these lectures at their leisure. All three are brilliant – challenging and engaging – and come highly recommended.

Our regular contributor Mr Botwe offered up the first lecture, posing the question ‘How could we change our political system for the better? ‘arguing that the modern political system is woefully inadequate to respond to the challenges of the 21st century world and that the UK political system is in need of a radical overhaul. Mr Botwe considered a range of questions such as why we were not prepared for a pandemic which ‘everyone saw coming but no-one saw coming’ and why our political system is not working as it ought to. He even suggested that maybe politicians need to go back to school to do more Maths lessons! Apparently, they are not too good at Probability!

Mr Botwe put forward the view that the Covid-19 crisis has revealed some considerable problems with modern government and proposed that the UK system needs to embrace the latest technological developments to improve the way Britain is governed. This point was illustrated in a thought-provoking way with reference to the example of Taiwan. As well as using technology to improve government, Mr Botwe stressed the importance of more diverse ways of thinking, including a more probabilistic approach and bringing more diverse thinkers into the process. This lecture was both highly informative and illuminating in terms of its insights into the possibilities of improving the democratic process of
government in our country to make it more effective and ‘match -fit’ for the future. This was particularly relevant and absorbing at a time when Western democratic systems – such as our own and the one we have seen operating at close hand ‘across the pond ‘ recently – have been coming under such close scrutiny.

Furthermore, (and never let it be said that we don’t have our finger on the pulse here at Tytherington!) in the week in which the successful development of a vaccine against Covid – 19 has given some much needed hope to all, we were highly privileged to have Ed Griffen, a Research Scientist currently leading part of the team involved in an international effort to find new anti-coronavirus medicines to provide the second lecture of the day. Dr Griffen is also Co-Chairperson of our governing body here at Tytherington. His lecture, entitled ‘A Live Report from the Hunt for New Drugs to Treat the Coronavirus’ gave a
highly fascinating and informative update into the progress made to discover a therapeutic drug to treat coronavirus. This work is vital, as in addition to being helpful in treating those infected with Covid -19, it is potentially useful in treating new strains of the virus which might emerge in the future. This is not possible for a vaccine which can only be effective for one particular strain of the virus. Dr Griffen provided a detailed account of the way the Covid-19 acts on the body, as well as how a drug designed to treat the virus would work and inhibit the spread of the virus.

It was intriguing to hear that, although based in Oxford, this project brings together a team from all around the world – from the Ukraine, the USA and Israel amongst others. Symbolising that perhaps, more than ever, we need to work together as a world community to build a healthier and more secure future. Not only that, but Dr Griffen explained how anyone can contribute ideas and assist the process of finding this new drug– so watch the lecture to find out how you can help!

In case these two lectures were not enough intellectual stimulation for one day, there was another opportunity to see Mr Botwe’s February lecture entitled “Is it Ethical to Say Whatever I Like” in which he raised a series of thought-provoking questions such as what we consider to be the value of freedom of speech, and whether there should be any limits imposed upon it in certain situations or with regard to certain potential outcomes. Mr Botwe reminded us that speech includes forms of expression like music, art – and even video games – and explored some of the problems that can arise from freedom of speech, such as harassment or potentially inciting individuals to commit violent acts. Conversely, he also outlined why freedom of speech is vital– and why sometimes we need to here things which might at first seem offensive, if we are to extend knowledge and access the truth. Furthermore, Mr Botwe invited us to think about how the issue of freedom of speech might affect social media, and whether there should be any form of regulation agreed by governments internationally to protect individuals and cut down on fake news. Another way in which the world needs to work together.

All in all, an engrossing and highly edifying series of lectures to help brighten (or enlighten) a dark November day during lockdown……

Our sincere thanks to both our contributors, Dr Griffen and Mr Botwe for sharing their valuable time and expertise.

If any other members of the school community would like to record a lecture on a subject, they are knowledgeable or passionate about which could benefit our students, we would love to hear from you. Please contact Ms Gannon or Mrs Burke for further information.