Monthly Archives: April 2015

US ‘will not fund research for modifying embryo DNA’ – BBC News

Germline gene therapy in action. Technology to find permanent cures and treatments or route to eugenics and designer babies?


Church of England ends investments in heavily polluting fossil fuels

Church of England ends investments in heavily polluting fossil fuels

The Church of England takes a stand and shows some moral responsibility for the earth and the fossil fuels problem.

Would be interesting to know where the money has gone to now?

Thought explosions: environmental issues

Today was an exciting day, one of my yr11 classes was set loose on the tables with board pens. Their mission, to write anything and everything they could on 5 environmental areas:

Global warming
Natural resources
Stewardship (from a christian and a jewish perspective)

Well done all of you, cause you smashed it! After they turned my desks into notebooks,  I let them go round and take snaps!

This post is to big up their amazing work, but also to share it with those who couldn’t get pictures. Enjoy yr11s, hopefully environmental issues will
scare you no more!










The Nature of Justice


Interesting piece looking at a comment Greville Janner made in 2012. In it he stated that justice, especially for crimes of great magnitude, should always be carried out no matter what the age of those involved.

His comment came when looking at prosecuting 90 odd year old people involved in the Nazi party. Obviously in light of his recent situation this may for some be very poignant. Very briefly for those who don’t know, Janner was brought up on sexual abuse charges on minors. However,  the court ruled that his alzheimer’s prevented him from standing trial.

Now many have come out in protest of this, but whether it is right comes down to many issues.

Firstly what is the purpose of punishment and enforcing justice? If it is retribution for the victims then judging from their responses the tial should go ahead. However, if it is to reform or to get the individual to recognise the injustice they have caused then it would be pointless. If the victims want him to pay for what he did or if they want him to come out and admit what he did are very different.  Alzheimer’s means that an admission or acceptance isn’t going to happen and if he’s suffering like my nan did then it’s unlikely he even recognise he was in jail.

But maybe that’s irrelevant,  maybe society needs to be showing that it supports the voice that says this is wrong. Maybe it needs to be seen to be behind the individuals who came out in this case. Just like innocent until proven guilty, should society not trust claims until proven false. It’s and argument I often hear over the workings of rape case.

Once again I will withhold my view, it’s hard to make a judgement when the case will never be heard. But for many it will bring up questions about the purpose of our justice system and the weight of responsibility when age and mentality become an issue.

30-year-old Russian man volunteers for world’s first human head transplant Medical News Today

A while ago I posted a link for the story of a doctor suggesting he would be able to perform a head transplant. I asked if it was possible and even if it was should it happen.

Well now a Russian man has come forward to volunteer.  He has a degenerative muscular condition that is terminal. He believes he has only the options to try this or to die, so basically why not…

Medical and ethical issues aside, I feel as time is a factor for this gentleman,  that this isn’t even an option. Our optimistic dr hasn’t really outlined full details of what would happen and he has even admitted that it still needs work. It has also yet to be seen if any medical boards would sanction such a procedure.

However having discussed the matter with many staff and students since then I have to share the question of whether the Russian man would still experience and feel things in the same way…

I feel cold more than my husband (or at least I can’t cope with it as much) but would that change? How much control would you have; if I was an artist would I retain that skill? And actually now that I mention it what about your other half (not sure of the potential patient’s marital status) but what would the impact be for them? I know relationships are more than appearance, but physical intimacy will be different.

Watch this space…

Amir Khan: ‘I’m more British than Ukip’

Amir Khan: ‘I’m more British than Ukip’

Some interesting insight on Islam for those of us who aren’t Muslim. He discusses the meaning of Hajj, his response to the 7/7 bombings and the importance of talking to tackle extremism.

Although a part of me is always interested in his relationship with his wife and her move to Bolton from New York…his comment that she’s content to live there now she has the baby did make me wince…

Still that doesn’t detract from the insight I mentioned before!

BBC – Podcasts and Downloads – The Infinite Monkey Cage

BBC – Podcasts and Downloads – The Infinite Monkey Cage.

Been listening to this ever since a science teacher friend mentioned it once to me and I think it’s important to share now.

Often people (students and adults) seem to think my subject (RE/Philosophy/Ethics) should be at odds with science and technology. Frankly I disagree. In everything that happens in the world; all the advances we make and discoveries uncovered; humans are faced with questions and issues that must be discussed.  How they do this and the value of the impacts are often explored in some of my lessons.

One of the shows I listened to about maths and the meaning of numbers echoed lessons I’d taught about whether good has any meaning. And reading on early philosophy has blown my mind about the similarities between so many subjects students are taught in school.

In particular the show that included the then Dean of Guildford Victor Stock was insightful. How even a man of God can criticise ‘religious people’ for thinking they had all the right answers (massively simplifying his point) was so interesting to hear.

It is essential to appreciate and understand the universe around us and I am not so naive as to think this can only be done in my subject. We should all open our eyes to science, maths, technologies etc and these shows could be a nice foot in the door for some!

A Level Over Thinking

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Having spent the last lesson of Spring term collecting our thoughts about meta-ethics, I decided to play a thinking game with my yr13s. Simply enough we took it in turns to read various statements starting with the phrase ‘I believe’. Now I’ve used this with other year groups and it creates lovely arguments if you get the mix of students right, but I have never experienced anything like this…

I guess I should have expected it, but with each card read came a barrage of qualifications. What does it mean by religion or beliefs? By what standard are we judging ‘goodness’? And it went on. Throw in that with every turn you have, you get to move one card already placed and cue the debates! We discussed the subjective or objective meaning of life;  whether equality extends to criminals; the allegorical or literal readings of scripture  and not to mention the repetitive conversations on whether animals had equal value to humans!

It made me incredibly proud of my yr13s and the kind of critical and open thinkers they were! Kind of the reason I teach RE, thanks guys!