Westbourne Grammar

Speak with Conviction

I recently listened to a Radio National broadcast of Joe Gelonesi interviewing philosopher and writer, Rebecca Goldstein about “What would Plato make of the modern world?”

Plato’s enduring habit was to ask a lot of questions about the human condition. Primarily concerned with wondering about “Why we matter” and “How to live a good life”, Plato helped us realise that the way to deep understanding can be achieved via questioning. He was a heat-seeking missile for the hidden question.

Goldstein firmly believes that Plato would have been fascinated by Google. She thinks ‘the Cloud’ is a very Plato-ish idea. However, she believes that Plato’s initial ecstasy would have become demoralised about how we get information, and how we look for sources of information that reinforce our own pre-suppositions, rather than seeking divergent issues and thrashing out the argument. This is because conflicting points of view are absolutely essential to our understanding about how to live in a way that matters.

In a recent Senior School assembly, I shared the idea that we might have lost the arts of questioning and of speaking confidently. The American slam poet and teacher, Taylor Mail’s poem ‘Speaking with Conviction’ is a humorous, clever performance which challenges the contemporary view that it has somehow become ‘cool’ to sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about. (Plato would have loved him!).

Please click to see what I mean.

Ms Meg Hansen

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