Page 10 - Brave New World
P. 10

                                                WHAT                                                                                  to think beyond the confines of their IGCSE or

                                                                                                                                      GCE syllabi, as indeed many do. Their future
                                                                                                                                      presents a ‘brave new world’ of analysing
                                                                                                                                      increasingly complex problems and seeking
              BRAVE NEW                                                                                                               increasingly innovative solutions: privacy and
                                                                                                                                      confidentiality in our increasingly data driven
                                                                                                                                      world; scientific and technological development
                                                                                                                                      but at what social or environmental cost? a
                                                                                                                                      myriad of human rights discrimination issues;
                        WORLD?                                                           Ursula Pantelides                            world poverty and conflict. Every day we are
                                                                                                                                      presented with a heady array of what used to
                                                                                                                                      be impossible now becoming possible, from
                                                                                                                                      robotic warfare to re-growing one’s own
                                                                                       Senior Assistant Head
                                                                                                                                      teeth, from ‘intelligent shopping’ to landing on
                                                                                                                                      Mars, to gene therapy. All this is happening at
                                                                                                                                      a previously inconceivable speed with the
              I TOOK THE PHOTO BELOW ALMOST TWO YEARS AGO. IT HAD BEEN A           As with many famous phrases now                    excitement of technological discovery and
              LONG AFTERNOON OF MOCK EXAMINATIONS AND THEN SUDDENLY THIS         embedded in the English language, the                the tantalising possibility of solutions to
              BRIGHT, OTHER-WORLDLY LIGHT APPEARED AT THE HALL END OF THE        concept of a ‘brave new world’ comes from            pressing world problems. Yet despite all this
              MAIN BUILDING GROUND FLOOR CORRIDOR. WALKING INTO ITS              Shakespeare. Fittingly perhaps, in what is           positivity, technology alone just doesn’t hack
              INTENSIFYING WARMTH AND ENERGY IT FELT LIKE IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN    generally acknowledged as his 1611                   it [pun intended.] At a personal level, many of
                                                                                 valedictory play, The Tempest, Miranda, a
              AN EPIPHANY MOMENT. I REJECTED SUCH FANCIFUL NOTIONS AT THE        young woman (of impeccable character)                us still search for a deeper sense of fulfilment
              TIME, DESPITE BEING UNABLE TO RESIST ATTEMPTING TO CAPTURE THE     speaks these words of hope and enthusiasm            and lack a sense of innate personal happiness.
              SCENE ON CAMERA, BUT HAVE SINCE THOUGHT BACK TO THE EXPERIENCE     in the last scene. Previously exiled on a lonely     That ‘brave new world’ seems to filter down to
              ON MANY OCCASIONS. WAS THIS JUST A PRETTY EFFECT OF THE SPRING     island with only her father, Caliban ‘a savage       requiring courage, in the challenges of daily
                                                                                                                                      routine and relationships, simply to survive.
              SUN SETTING, ANGLED THROUGH THE MUNDANITY OF A DOOR BEING          and deformed slave’, and sundry spirits for            As we know, amassing a string of external
              LEFT OPEN? OR, GIVEN THE MYSTERIOUS DIMENSIONS OF OUR 121 YEAR     company, she voices her amazement at                 exam qualifications is only a very small part of
              LEGACY, WAS IT PERHAPS A WHITE SURPLICED ENGLISH SCHOOL            suddenly seeing a human king and host of             becoming a healthy, successful professional
              PARANORMAL VISITATION? WE WILL RETURN TO THIS A LITTLE LATER.      courtiers. It is a moment of great revelation        and future world citizen. There is emotional
                                                                                 for her:                                             intelligence and all the soft skills which make
                                                                                             O wonder!                                a person a kind and thoughtful human being,
                                                                                      How many goodly creatures                       whether in communication with their ‘goodly’
                                                                                           are there here!                            or not so ‘goodly’ fellows. And there is
                                                                                      How beauteous mankind is!                       leadership, to which many of our students
                                                                                         O brave new world                            rightfully aspire. True leadership comes from
                                                                                       That has such people in it                     a wider understanding of the world outside
                                                                                     ‘The Tempest’ Act V: I lines 182-184             one’s own comfort zone and the resolution to
                                                                                                                                      speak out when one believes there is injustice.
                                                                                   Subsequent writers have upended Miranda’s            So this brings me back to the strange light
                                                                                 rather broad-brush belief in the inherent            streaming through the school one afternoon
                                                                                 goodness of humanity and used the phrase             two years ago. Was it a supernatural
                                                                                 ironically, writers such as Jonathan Swift           phenomenon? Well, maybe – why not keep
                                                                                 (Gulliver’s Travels) and H.G. Wells (A Modern        an open mind? Was it just a trick of light? Well
                                                                                 Utopia). Aldous Huxley who titled his work of        maybe- there is a scientific explanation for most
                                                                                 dystopian science fiction Brave New World,            things. And what else? Well maybe it was natural
                                                                                 had his book banned in Ireland on publication        energy filling the school, reminding each of
                                                                                 in 1932. Due to its purported ‘offensive              us as a member of this privileged community
                                                                                 language’, ‘sexually explicit scenes’ and            that we each have a ‘brave new world’ to face,
         reflections                                                              wanted banned’  . Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’         and compassionately. And make our family, our
                                                                                 ‘insensitivity’, as late as 2011 it was still
                                                                                                                                      and entrusting us with the responsibility to
                                                                                 ‘among the top 10 books Americans most
                                                                                                                                      lead in its development ethically, courageously
                                                                                                                                      friends and most importantly ourselves,
                                                                                 leads us through a genetically engineered
                                                                                 future society where technology rules.
                                                                                                                                      proud of having tried.
                                                                                 Humans are created through artificial means,
                                                                                 moulded into a social hierarchy based on
                                                                                 intelligence and labour function, and kept
                                                                                 ‘happy’ through a drug called Soma. Needless
                                                                                 to say, the protagonist who rebels against
                                                                                 this empty regime, has a tragic and clearly
     08                                                                          ‘unhappy’ end. Many other writers have
                                                                                 taken this notion of state overturning basic
                                                                                 human freedoms, in supposed pursuit of a
                                                                                 utopian society further, not least the great
                                                                                 Canadian writer of dystopian fiction
                                                                                 Margaret Atwood. She aptly comments:
                                                                                   Surely it’s time to look again at Brave New
                                                                                 World and to examine its arguments for and
                                                                                 against the totally planned society it describes,
                                                                                 in which ‘’everybody is happy now.’’ What sort
                                                                                 of happiness is on offer and what is the price
                                                                                 we might pay to achieve it?  2
                                                                                   It is these questions which our current
                                                                                 students need to consider when taking time
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