Student section writer
Change is Laura’s passion and it controls all she does. As a fine art student at NUA, Laura is aiming to awaken a new consciousness within society to allow progression and positive change. She holds great importance upon conscious living and collectively working against injustices within the society we find ourselves in.
(08.08.17) – Review: Two Little Ducks Edinburgh Fringe Preview
CW: Mentions violence against children
More than any other art form, spoken word performance art allows an audience to directly interact with the thoughts of the artist. This kind of interaction can often change minds more effectively than argument or statistic, making spoken word art a very progressive medium. As a spoken word enthusiast and an artist on a student budget, I was therefore excited to attend Matt Abbott’s pay-what-you-can preview of his Edinburgh Fringe show ‘Two Little Ducks’ at the Norwich Arts Centre recently. And my excitement was certainly justified – Two Little Ducks is a powerfully thought-provoking, politically driven work.
(21.07.17) – The Depths of Communication – NUA Degree Show 2017
This year’s degree show was of striking magnitude. The work in all departments was of a very professional standard, with the textiles department in particular showing great craft and display skills with their breathtaking exhibition. These high standards were maintained throughout, even into the degree show shop, which housed snippets of work for sale.
(14.07.17) – The Damage Done by Gendered School Uniforms
The long standing debate regarding gendered school uniform has been raised once more in the news recently, when a number of students at Isca academy in Exeter chose the much cooler option of wearing a school skirt in the recent high temperatures. They were protesting the fact that students are not allowed to wear shorts.
This is not an isolated case, but one of several in recent months. One call centre worker in Buckinghamshire, for example, also chose to question his firm’s anti-shorts rules by wearing a dress, and his tweets about this act of defiance went viral. Protests like these partly reveal the rigidity that gendered uniform creates – but, contrary to what most coverage suggests, the issue goes much deeper than just whether schools allow shorts and skirts in hot weather.
Each university is different from one another. Moreover, they are very different from most other institutions of all types. On one hand they are educational institutions; on the other they are businesses. As businesses they make investments, though this is not something we would usually think of as a priority of educators. It is worth taking the time to investigate what your university is truly involved with and if their investments are ethical, not only for moral peace of mind but also to have a clearer idea of what your tuition fees are being put toward.
(28.06.17) – Who Deserves TEF Gold? And Does It Matter?
Last week, the first set of Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) rankings were released for 2017. The TEF is fairly complicated and students are rarely informed of how it works, or the possible implications it holds for the future of education. In short, it is a framework of metrics or measures introduced by the Tory government, ostensibly to assess teaching in higher education institutions in England. These metrics categorise two areas: student satisfaction and graduate earnings / employability. A lot of the data comes from the National Student Survey that final year students are often pressured to take part in. This years’ rankings gave some unexpected results for some of the UK’s most prestigious institutes, with many not doing as well as expected – only 8 of the 21 elite Russell Group universities were awarded ‘Gold’. This suggests that we should be cautious about taking the TEF results as accurate representations of institutions.
(08.06.17) – Our Leaders are Dragging us Back to the Coal Age
We expect time to encourage positive progression, as new minds surface and opportunities ripen. But recently we are seeing more of the opposite achieved by the leaders of some of the greatest western ‘powers’. Last week, the current president of the United States announced the country’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate deal. This will have seriously detrimental effects on the environment and the future of our planet.
The snap election. The vote looming over the future. We in the UK have the privilege of affecting the result. As students, young people and members of a fast changing world, voting in a western country like ours means more than just influencing your own future. Electing certain policies through parties can drastically alter how Britain relates to the rest of the world. How the next generation develop, what they value, and the state of the planet they will live on are all on the line. It is crucially important, therefore, for us each to familiarise ourselves with each party’s policies and plans. Not only is it vital to consider how these policies will affect broader issues such as the environment or foreign relations, it is also vital to be sure that the party you vote for stands to protect what you value in your country.
(03.05.17) – Is Creativity Dying?
As a fine art student, I spend my time surrounded by others engaged in creative practices or on creative career paths. However, as I’ve progressed through the first year of my degree I’ve noticed a major stigma attached to these paths. Even within my own arts university there is a perception that fine art students are less ‘realistic’ than those on other creative courses in the university, like graphic design or fashion. This perception, usually held by people who haven’t taken the time to ask fine art students and other creatives about our work, has spread widely through society. Modern artists do not warrant the same level of interest and respect as the great painter-philosophers of previous centuries.
As spring approaches, so do the grasping hands of Easter and the shelves full of egg-shaped chocolate treats, in a hundred sizes and colours. But the main thing I notice as I walk through the supermarket is the quantity of packaging that comes with them. Each egg is sealed in plastic and stored in a cardboard box, and most come with other individually wrapped chocolates. The brightly coloured decorations upon the eggs and boxes are reminiscent of nature and the beautiful colours of spring. The great irony, of course, is that the packaging boasting this decoration directly contributes to the destruction of that natural beauty. Through this attitude to resources, companies are investing in a ‘throw away society’, and future generations will have to carry the burden.
On Saturday March 11th, I attended the launch of a fascinating new book from Theory and Practice publishing: ‘The Alternative to Capitalism’ by Adam Buick and John Crump. Many of us feel hostile towards capitalist structures. Being properly informed is vital to structuring our opposition effectively. I can heartily recommend this book as an addition to the education of anyone interested in the possibility of bringing capitalism down. Its content is manageable, it is inclusive not alienating, and most importantly it inspires hope in an alternative society.
(12.03.17) – International Students and Reclaiming Globalisation
More than 43 000 people come every year from overseas to study in the UK; a vast spectrum of people with differing backgrounds, cultures and interests/abilities. An international student’s experience of learning abroad goes further than just their degree. They encounter a different way of life that may enrich and enhance their own. They each bring with them a unique set of capacities, a wealth of ideas and innovative potential solutions that create a stimulating multicultural academic environment for all. But adapting in this way is often difficult, as I’ve learned recently speaking to international students at my university.
(22.02.17) – The Many Costs of Student Poverty
Maintenance grants are a thing of the past and student accommodation costs are rising by the year. Is it any wonder that 80% of students worry about having enough money to get by? As a student myself I am surrounded by people whose rent is higher than their student loan, leading them to make sacrifices on important aspects of their lives, such as their diet. In many cases, students must choose to let their own health suffer as a result of lack of funds.
Forget statistics, results and score tables – how much does the modern school system genuinely guide young minds toward a progressive and fulfilling future?
John Dewey, often called the father of modern western education, argued that raising children as obedient conformists, rather than individuals who think for themselves, is very dangerous for democratic society. In recent decades, generations of people have been brought up at a midpoint between these two extremes, raised to conform to individualism. This has provided support for dangerous social, environmental and political power structures which do not provide for the vital collectivist needs of our ever-more-globalised world.