Should people keep exotic animals as pets?

Have you ever seen a very cute rodent or a colourful reptile and thought: ‘how cute’ or ‘I really want one’?

I would guess that you have but should people really keep exotic animals as pets? Well, most people have a view on whether exotic animals should or shouldn’t be kept in the home. Dogs and domestic cats have been bred through generations to be house dwellers, however, animals such as macaws and snakes which are not always domesticated in the same way could potentially harm the owner.

Rio is a film about macaws and other exotic birds being captured and sold to unsuspecting people, sadly this is not unlike real life where wild macaws are plucked from their habitat. Animals are deemed to be not as intelligent as humans, however, is it still ethically right to keep non domesticated animals as pets? Most exotic animals sold cheaply are illegally sourced; also lots of wild animals need a licence to keep. Why lock a bird in a cage when it can easily take off your finger?

People argue that exotic animals should not be kept as pets because it’s cruel or unfair on the animals. But the pet also can affect the owner in numerous ways. Bacteria like salmonella, tuberculosis and others can seriously affect the owner. Also if the elderly or a child under 5 gets a serious foreign virus or disease they could die. So next time think before kissing that cute pet snake!

Personally I feel it is not a good idea to keep exotic pets, however, if you are willing and feel you are ready to keep a potentially dangerous animal in your house then it’s up to you – I would stick to dogs though!

By Elizabeth Zachariah, year 7

Mystical or Mythical? – The Tale of the Dragon

All around the world, different cultures have their own stories. The werewolf, the mermaids and sirens and of course…big foot.

However, there is one myth that has remained consistent throughout the world. Stories deriving from a whole host of cultures, creating rumours that have echoed over this earth: the legend of the dragon.

There are many reasons that people would dismiss the possibility of a fire breathing creation, especially if the creature is also a giant lizard. But what if the dragon could exist?

The dragon could have come into existence in the same way as the dinosaurs, descended from lizards and one of the oldest living creatures, the crocodile (who would share a common ancestor). The back wash from the flames would undoubtedly scorch the throat of any living creature, so a defence against this would be of the upmost importance. The dragon could have a flap at the back of the throat that would close when the fire had been released, much like the adaptation found in crocodiles to stop the lungs from flooding whilst holding prey underwater. Not only would this prevent the burns from the severe flames, but it would also stop the inhaling of the excess carbon dioxide produced by the act of combustion.

There are many gasses produced when a living being eats. Two of these gasses are methane and hydrogen, both of which are lighter than air. If the dragons had an extra pair of lungs that could flood with these gasses, this would contribute to their buoyancy when flying. However these are highly flammable when mixed with a particular mineral – and it is this mineral that has been found in rocks and boulders all across the earth.

The dragon, if it did exist, would have done so at the time of the dinosaurs, well beyond the time of any human, and would have most likely encountered the same fate as these unfortunate beasts. How is it that we know this? Again similar to crocodiles, the dragon may have taken to the water, thus avoiding the turmoil of the world above. After a time, when the climate of the land had settled down a little, it could resurface, and adapt to live once more on the land we call home.

This land would of course include all the different environments and landscapes we know today, and thus the dragons of all cultures were born. The forests of China would reduce the need for wings, thus, the Chinese dragon has never been portrayed with them. The Welsh dragon is huge, with great wings and claws, suited only too well to the green open spreads of the welsh landscape.

The legend of the dragon is one that has baffled scientists, enchanted children and adults for millenniums – not to mention given inspiration for many an excellent novel (may I take this moment to recommend the book “Eragon”)! But is it really that much of a myth? Think of all the wonders of the world.

Is the legend of the dragon really so unbelievable?

By Maddie Jones

Random Acts of Kindness

Last week I witnessed one of the most heart warming sights ever. As I walked out of Fulham Broadway Station, battling my way through the rain with my hood up as protection, I saw a homeless man huddled outside, with nothing but his sleeping bag to warm him. As I fished around in my bag to find a couple of coins, two girls started talking to him and gave this man, alone and cold, a rain mac, an umbrella and various other things, which they had just gone to buy him. Why, I must ask, had I not thought to do such a thing? Why, I must ask, did it shock me that, in our world of hard-faced commuters, someone could reach out and show compassion?

After this revelation I seemed to hear about random acts of kindness everywhere. My friend was buying a train ticket when she found £10 in the machine with a note saying “have a nice day!”. Then I found a website called “www.randomactsofkindness.org” which gives people ideas of different acts they can do and shares stories of what other people have experienced.

One story is about a girl who paid the bill for the old woman sitting next to her in a cafe. Another of someone who gave cookies to homeless people on her way home. One about a 5 year old boy selling lemonade to raise money for Lily Graham, who suffers with cancer – he raised $850. Another story told us of a stranger giving someone flowers with a ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ card on it.

All of these things, big and small, make such a difference to peoples lives. Kindness breeds kindness. The small action of one person can lead to millions of people doing random acts of kindness. Making someone smile when they are sad, keeping someone warm when it rains,  and generally brightening someone’s day.

Kindness breeds kindness. Generosity is contagious. Goodness leads to goodness.

This isn’t just a theory or a hope. James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis published their findings in the ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Science’, after an experiment they showed that peoples actions didn’t always lie in the calculation of odds or rewards. But by copying the behaviour of others. Therefore when one person gave generously and irrationally, others did the same. Thus, generosity is contagious, as is kindness.

Not only this, but witnessing a random act of kindness is thought to make you feel elated, happy and at peace. The psychologist Jonathan Haidt describes it as a “warm feeling in the chest, a sensation of expansion in [the] heart, an increased desire to help, and increased sense of connection with others… a manifestation of humanity’s ‘higher’ or ‘better’ nature.” It’s true, when I saw these girls giving the homeless man gifts I felt overcome with joy, so much so that I was nearly in tears with my restored faith in humanity.

It is often so easy to forget the good things humanity has to offer when the news bombards us with all the sorrow and evil in the world. But even one random act of kindness can restore someones faith in that little known thing called humanity. As Martin Kornfled pointed out “If we all do one random act of kindness daily, we just might set the world in the right direction”. Why not try it? Do a random act of kindness, feel the elation, spread the kindness, and let others see that there is still hope for humanity in this world.

So, to the two girls at Fulham Broadway Station – Thank You. You have restored my faith in humanity and the power of random acts of kindness.

Visit http://www.randomactsofkindness.org to find ideas and stories about how to spread kindness.

By Tilly Davis

Meddling Michael or Good Gove?

Michael Gove. The ex-minister of education for Britain. A man whose name rings alarm bells for every teacher in England. In 2010 the conservative MP was appointed Secretary of State for Education as a result of the coalition government between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. A strict and rigid reconstruction of the education syllabus has generated frustration and outrage for members of the education sector, and as a result many of his proposals have been rejected due to his seemingly disruptive approach. The main criticism of him would probably be his critical nature towards the teaching profession. Teachers despise this approach as they don’t believe he has any understanding or experience on how to teach purely to benefit children of all different backgrounds.

However, as a result of his unpopular outlook, maybe his positive attributes and contributions have been overlooked.

Although some of his actions may have been disproved by a majority of teachers and education workers his overall intentions were to improve the general education system in England. For example, the ban of controlled assessments during GCSE English. As a Surbiton High School pupil I was initially against this idea as I personally felt that the controlled assessments that I completed helped diffuse the stress from one exam to across the year. However, looking at it from a wider perspective I can understand the benefits of this proposal due to the fact that it could be considered unfair for students who gain no outside help, in comparison to students who are lucky enough to be tutored and assisted to a greater extent.

On Friday 3rd Jonathan Dimbleby presented the BBC Radio 4 show that took place at Surbiton High School where Michael Gove (Conservative) made an appearance along with Baroness Williams (Liberal Democrat), Patrick O’Flynn (UKIP) and Emily Thornberry (Labour). In contrary to my initial expectations, Michael Gove came across as articulate, well-spoken and compared to the other members, calm and collected. His ideas on the economy and his defences seemed valid and surprisingly reasonable.

Another talk that Gove made at the London academy of excellence praised and appreciated teachers for all they had done, however this clearly went unrecognised. Within his speech of approval he states ‘today I want to thank them. By pointing out quite how much they’ve done. The people who work in our schools at the moment have, I think, made history.’ Perhaps the reason this has become unnoticed is due to the media finding it easier to scrutinise and act negatively towards politicians in order to gain support and attention.

The bias perception of Michael Gove has perhaps infected us all and maybe it’s too late to change it, however I believe we should keep an open mind. Michael Gove has made seemingly pointless and frustrating changes but he has also helped amend the education system for a large majority of school children. His sudden changes in the syllabus have allowed him to be judged as a ruthless and ignorant politician with insufficient interests when in fact he has offered ‘children a better start in life.’

BY SASHA LAWLESS

Moon landing Myth

On July 16th 1969 a crew of three members; Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins made their adventurous and potentially life threatening journey to the moon. They soon entered the moons orbit, but a few challenges arouse.

On the 20th July 1969, the cameras were posed (which were transmitting images to over 6 hundred million people on Earth) and Neil Armstrong was ready to take the first steps ever on the moon. Once on the moon he stated “that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” – a saying which will long be remembered in history. Buzz Aldrin then also stepped on the moon, and they placed the symbolic American flag onto the moon’s surface. They then remained on it for 21 hours and collected Moon rocks for scientists to examine once back in America. After probably the most spectacular and memorable 21 hours of their lives they then headed back to their home, and arrived on the 23rd July as heroes.

However, since the moon landing, many conspiracy theories have been released about NASA faking the launch to the moon, thus deceiving the whole World. One main argument conspiracy theorists have pointed out is that when Neil Armstrong was on the moon, viewers witnessed the American flag waving and fluttering as it was in the ground. This event has sparked the beginning of this controversial debate, because everybody knows that there’s no air in the moons atmosphere, and therefore no wind to cause the flag to flutter.

Furthermore, images that were taken were expected to show the shadows of objects and people on the moon running parallel with each other, because there is only one strong light source – the Sun. But the pictures do not shows this. Instead they are all in different directions, thus have lead conspiracy theorists to believe that this was a film set as there would be many different light sources.

Another argument supporting the hoax theories, is that in none of the images from the moon are any stars present. Many scientists have stated that this does not make sense, because stars are so bright one would definitely be able to see them from the moon. People have therefore claimed that NASA intentionally left out stars from their “fake” images, because it was too complicated as they would have to find out the exact location of different stars, thus they risked the chance of being caught out by their hoax.

Moreover, another convincing argument is that in one of the rocks on the moon there is a perfect letter C drawn into it, suggesting that it must have been man made, further supporting the argument that NASA faked the whole event by filming it in a studio. In response to this argument NASA stated that the developer of the moons pictures must have put it in as a joke.

Lastly, many sceptics have suggested that the film director Stanley Kubrick was the person who filmed the hoax in a studio, because the US government approached him and told him that they wanted him to do this, in order to beat the USSR in the space race. Then as a “practice run” he made the film “A Space Odyssey” which was released a year before the first landing on the moon.

After the moon landing Neil Armstrong became a reclusive man, only giving a few interviews between you the landing and his death in 2010. Some people have argued that surely a man who has played a part in making history would want to tell the world about this experience, unless he was afraid of being caught out?

If you’re interested about finding more out on this case, then you can watch the programme “Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?which was broadcasted on Fox in 2001 as is available to watch on YouTube.

By Sophie Rogers

Private Lives in the Public Eye

After almost 200 private photos were leaked through an iCloud hacking scandal in August, the lives of the victims were turned upside down. The huge number of celebrities who discovered their name on a list of people who’s iCloud account had been hacked by “OriginalGuy” were soon too find millions of people gawking at photos which they had assumed to be secure and private. Not only have the photos been spread over the Internet and labeled as porn, but ordinary people have gone out of their way to gain access to photos which were taken in the privacy of the subject, and were intended to stay this way.

While the general public gleefully lapped up the humiliation of these celebrities, they expected the victims to feel shameful for taking a risk and posing nude for themselves or their partner. However through the publication of Vanity Fair’s interview with Jennifer Lawrence,  onlookers realised that the reaction of these celebrities would not be as mild as they had previously expected.

The interview Jennifer Lawrence gave in Vanity Fair, threw any chance of regret back in the publics faces, stating “I didn’t tell you that you could look at my naked body”, calling the hackers’ acts a sex crime and those who were looking at photos “perpetuating a sexual offence”. Jen went on to describe the horror most of us would never want to imagine.”I can’t even describe to anybody what it feels like to have my naked body shot across the world like a news flash against my will. It just makes me feel like a piece of meat that’s being passed around for profit.”

  But still the EU commissioner – Günther Oettinger – labelled the celebrities as stupid saying, “If someone is dumb enough as a celebrity to take any photos of themselves and put them online, they surely can’t expect us protect them.”

The comment caused outrage amongst the general public. Granted these photos were technically online, but they were in fact kept private until they were stolen for the private iCloud accounts of celebrities. The German politician, Julia Reda, immediately responded to this by saying that Oettinger had made a “mockery” of a significant problem and that his response to the situation called into question “whether he is qualified for the job of shaping our digital society for the next five years”.

While it first caused shock that “OrginalGuy” was able to hack into people’s iCloud accounts, it was soon discovered that many members of the online forum AnonIB had also been using this technique to gain access to people’s private photos. Not only this, but there is a whole board dedicated to stolen or “obtained” photos. The “/stol/” board acts as an online meeting point for iCloud hackers, who exchange tips and “achievements” with each other.

The issue for me, however, is not the fact that people are prepared to steal someone else’s property. No, the issue is that when people are online they seem to lose all sense of morality.

If a person came up to you in the street and asked if you wanted to look at photos they’d got from breaking into someone’s house, you would surly be appalled and refuse. Yet, when it’s online suddenly the victim becomes the culprit. No longer is the thief in the wrong, but it is the fault of the victim for simply for taking such photos.

The question should not be whether people are right to take the photos, but why others are gaining amusement from their privacy being leaked online. Privacy is not intended for the public eye.

This lack of morality online appears everywhere in our society: cyber bullying, trolling on Twitter – constantly people use their ‘virtual-selves’ to say or do things which they would never do in “real-life”. But of course this is “real-life”. Online or offline the effects are the same and they are never acceptable.

The other issue which this raises is the online misogyny which seems to be surfacing. Is it a coincidence that only women were targeted in this hacking? I think not. We may be targeting sexism rather successfully in “real-life”, with Emma Watson’s recent ‘He for She’ campaign taking the world by storm, but the internet seems to be a new home for sexism. The leaking of personal and private photos are just one example of this.

Instead of criticising celebrities for taking nude photos, should we not be trying to fix the problem of the way people behave online? After all, how would you like it if broke into you home just to steal a couple of photos? No matter what they’re of, they’re private.

BY TILLY DAVIS

The mythical creature that lurks on social media

Despite his political stance and identification with the lower class, Ed Miliband has been ridiculed, taunted and rejected by members of the public. All of this is down to being slightly odd-looking. It seems that for our society, for the people who he will soon govern, appearance overrules politics. Surprising? Unfortunately not. In today’s society, the public figures and celebrities who we see in the papers, on the television – and just about everywhere we turn – seem to be a punching bag for the insecurities and ferocity that every normal person, who reads the paper instead of appearing in it, turn to in order to release pent-up anger and frustration.

Perhaps it is down to old-fashioned jealously. Or perhaps it is something more than that. Possibly, this is more than just picking on other people to bring ourselves up, and seeds to something more.

Following his ‘bacon sarnie’ disaster, Ed Miliband was cruelly slated: for simply not enjoying his breakfast, he was deemed as not being at one with the public, thinking he’s better than everybody else, not relatable, and, of course, people remarked on the unsavoury way he shovelled the sandwich in his mouth. What is it about public figures that bring out such an ugly, unacceptable side to us?

These people who take to the internet to criticise the public have aptly been named “trolls”. A troll (not the internet kind) is an ugly, mythical creature who dwells in isolated places,work together in small groups, and are rarely helpful to human beings. I cannot help but notice that the mythical ‘troll’ does not seem all too dissimilar to the internet troll.
These trolls work together in small hate clubs that join together over the internet, uniting over distaste for a reality TV star or a mutual hate for a politician.

They dwell in isolated places: the corners of cafes clutching their phones, the attic of their house, underneath their covers with the computer screen dimly lighting up their shelter. They cannot be seen, nor heard: only their trails can be found, the footprints of loathing and abuse they leave in their wake.

And of course, these internet trolls are in no way helpful to human beings. What joy do they bring to our lives? Scrolling through a celebrity’s Instagram, between the other decent comments, you cannot avoid a troll’s sneer of a comment. They are never amusing nor intelligent, and they make no input into anybody’s lives: in fact, many go unseen. So, I beg the question, why do it?

Kim Kardashian, reality star and wife of rapper Kanye West, has one of the highest amounts of followers on photo-sharing site Instagram, with over 19 million fans. On a recent photo she uploaded of herself, dressed in a black suit at Fashion Week, people couldn’t help but abuse her, with comments such as “You killed fashion week!” “What’s wrong with that woman” and, “You disgust me. You should not be famous; you’re an embarrassment to our world”. Indeed, there is not a single photo on her Instagram that has not been battered with abuse.

On ‘The Student Room’ a popular website for students to share information and discussions, the question “Does anyone actually like Ed Milliband?” appeared. Some of the comments were so explicit and disgusting, they cannot be shared. Some were milder saying: “I hate his nasal voice…and he looks like an inbred….why don’t you clear your seemingly blocked nose before you give speeches.”

I’m sure that the people who write these comments are not perfect and flawless. I’m sure they have bad hair days and blocked noses and wear odd clothes. People in the public eye once held respect: the general public looked to those in the public eye for inspiration, to dream bigger, to have courage to pursue their dreams, to work harder in their lives.
I wholeheartedly agree, some people who are deemed ‘famous’ should not be given such a title. They should not be privileged enough to be role models to our children, and to the general public. Yet does that give these people, people who are just like us, reason to be subject to such exploitation?

It’s as if we’re in the playground again, and celebrities and public figures have had a post-it note with “KICK ME” stuck on their backs. I doubt these ‘trolls’ would say any of the abuse they proudly stamp out on the internet to these celebrities’ faces. In fact, I bet they’d be lining up for a selfie with them.

Being in the public eye gives people certain responsibilities: you have a duty to be a role model, a respected citizen, a valued member of society. Spiderman’s saying is true, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. But this applies to the owners of computers and members of social media: if you have the power to comment on other people, be responsible. We shouldn’t abuse that power.

Because, we may forget, celebrities are just famous versions of ourselves. As actress Betty White neatly put it, “Trolls suck.”

BY HOPE SUPPLE

The best figure? It depends on the era.

It has been a question on every woman’s mind for generations and generations. What constitutes the ‘dream figure’? Is it to have that flat stomach and desired thigh gap, or is it more desirable to have effortless curves? Is it to have a bronze tan, or to have skin like snow? What is the best figure?

 

The truth is; it varies. In each decade, it seems to be that there has been a new pin-up, a new desire for a different figure and shape. So which one is the most popular? Will history ever repeat itself? Or will women and men never decide what constitutes the ‘dream body’?

 

From the 1900s-1910s, all women desired to be tall, with large hips and a large bust, as well as having pale skin. This sent off the message to a woman’s peers that she was wealthy enough to eat well, hence the full figure, and did not have to take part in outdoor labor – hence the pale skin. The perfect woman did not have to go outside; she was the angel of the kitchen, and cooked beautiful meals for her husband. There was also the belief that if a woman had a very curvaceous, ‘womanly’ figure, with a large bust and wide hips, she was more fertile, and maternal, making a perfect wife. The Gibson girl was the creation of Charles Dana Gibson, an illustrator, and was the type of woman who epitomized the ideal feminine beauty of the decade. The Gibson girl had a large bust, wide hips and a flat stomach.

 

By 1920, women ditched the corsets that pushed up their bust and pulled in their waists, in favor of a more boyish figure. The war was over, and after women had proved that they were more than just cooking and cleaning, they were keen to show it. Their new masculine look made them look equal to men, as well as their bobbed hair. Women in the 1920s wore dresses that didn’t pull in their waist or accentuate their breasts, instead wearing loose dresses that covered any curves and showed off their knees and their legs, highlighting their new ‘scandalous’ image; women were now smoking in public and driving cars, and life was now carefree because the war was finally over.  Gloria Swanson was arguably the biggest 1920’s star, and she fitted perfectly with the masculine, cropped-hair, and looser fitting dress – ideal of the 1920’s.

 

Yet the boyish figure didn’t last long. Mae West, a Hollywood star of the 1930’s brought back the less outrageous desire for women to sport curves, wearing tight fitting dresses that showed off curves and waists. Women started to lose their masculinity, and revert back to their femininity in the 1930’s.

 

World War 2 was bound to shake up the ongoing battle of what women should aim for in terms of the best figure. During the 40’s gave women plenty of responsibility, with the men away fighting for their country. The idealistic and unattainable curves slipped out of style, and women didn’t want to be portrayed as carefree like they had after World War 1 in the 1920’s. Instead, women were all in search for that slender, yet very healthy, body. Rita Hayworth was the ideal figure, with a body that was not too different from many women’s bodies should be and were; healthy and in shape.

 

1950’s was a decade that was dedicated to the sex symbols; especially Marilyn Monroe. With their long legs, big busts and perfect hourglass figures, women such as Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell dominated Hollywood, and their effortless glamour and sex appeal made their bodies desirable to all men, and wanted to all women. Women in the 1950’s were starting to have a better understanding of nutrition and exercise, and therefore, despite wanting a curvaceous figure with an hourglass waist, they also wanted long legs and a smooth stomach.

 

However, this all changed in the year of 1960. The desperate need for an hourglass figure quickly diminished, as women found out that actually to be skinny was what men wanted, and what was most attractive.  Women believed that actually the boyish look of the 1920’s was what was the perfect figure, and model Twiggy fit into the category of a tiny frame, long thin legs, angular shapes and to be completely slender. Dieting and calorie counting fell into society, as science developed, and with the development of science came another change in fashions and trends. Maternal was out, and masculinity was truly back in.

 

With the 1970’s came a very small change in the ideal figure. From 1950 to 1960, the definition of beauty had become a complete opposite. Now, the thinner look seemed to be set to stay. The 1970’s were a time for flower power, for experimentation with drugs, and music, a time for festivals and for road trips. Farah Fawcett was seen as the most beautiful woman of the 70’s, as she sported minimal makeup, flowing hair, an athletic body, and tanned skin. In the 1970’s, women were more natural, and healthy.

 

With the year of 1980 came the boom of fitness and aerobics videos, and with this new craze came a brand new, admirable body type. Nicknamed ‘hard bodies’, the face of which being Jane Fonda, women aspired to be muscular, completely toned, thin and athletic. Gone was the want for a natural looking healthy body as there had been in the carefree 70’s, as exercise was well and truly becoming something women should be doing daily, not just men.

 

In the 90’s, Kate Moss took over from Jane Fonda, with her tiny body, not a hint of cellulite and no traces of fat on her skinny limbs and stomach. The tan, that had once been desired, had now worn away, and Kate Moss’ pale skin, like the skin that had been so admired in the beginning of the 90th century, was back, making a full circle. Yet 90 years on, the ideal weight had halved; a large bust and large hips was certainly out of fashion and thin was in. Kate Moss famously said, “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”, a remark that haunted women during the 90’s.

 

2000-2010: a new millennium, combined with a new ideal look. Kate Moss’ angular looks and sharp features were replaced with a softer ideal, models such as Alessandra Ambrosio and the rest of the Victoria’s secret angels boasted of long flowing hair, tanned skin, and perfect figures-a large bust, yet a flat stomach, and hips yet thin legs. The beach-girl, summery look seemed to captivate women in those 10 years.

 

And now…It seems that to be ‘striking’, ‘unusual’, ‘gawky’, and ‘different’ are things to be celebrated. Although in the previous 10 years, the typical beauty was in fact, very typical, now models such as Cara Delevingne have showed that high fashion is the fashion. Shorter hair, bolder looks, and unfortunately, slimmer bodies, with the focus being on size zero models again. But who knows? In 10 years, it will all change again…

By Hope Supple

 

The Hierarchy of Classics

At school the only literature we seem to study are those which are deemed as ‘classics’. Dickens, Austen, Wells and of course Shakespeare?

In a nutshell at school people do not study contemporary novels. But with the vast variety of great literature texts out there, maybe we should. I am personally enthralled by both contemporary and classic novels, yet I feel a sense of exasperation at the same time.

Contemporary novels do not necessarily have less complex plots or fewer sophisticated themes. In contrast Classics can be off putting in the style they are written in. Even Shakespeare’s use of the ‘side joke’ only appeals to a 16th century audience, making completely incomprehensible to a 21st century audience.  Contemporary novels are easier to comprehend.  The reader is able to focus more on the backbone of the story, analysing the plot line making it easier to appreciate the plot line more, (rather than tearing away a padding of language).

On the other hand, classics teach people that dedication can be fruitful. Nothing is handed to anybody on a platter and one might argue that the reading of classics helps to reiterate this idea. The fact that the structure and wording of the English language used in classic literature differs from the version we use nowadays adds to the authenticity of the text.

On a more practical note, the great effort it takes to read classics, forces people to analyse the text in greater detail. Developing a new found skill set for several jobs and written exams, whereas contemporary novels benefit the current-day reader linguistically. All readers, whether inadvertently or not, pick up on the language in books and use it to develop their own dialect. Most classics, (even the more recent ones), contain language that is simply not accessible to a modern day audience.

Many will argue that classics have stood the test of time, some have survived centuries,  and others have been read for over a millennium. Why would we keep reading these books if they are not interesting? However, every classic had to be written and published at some point: a point before it was a classic. A book must be read by many people in more than one generation before it can be called classic and our generation will have nothing to show if we do not propel our own books to classical status.

Something old is not necessarily better than something new.

I think the main reason that contemporaries are excluded from the higher levels of education is due to the hierarchy which novels are placed in. We are stuck in a spiral of woes. The more people read a book, the more people read a book. Once a book has achieved classical status, it can be very hard to avoid (especially in the education system).

Contemporary novels have equally exciting plot lines, they are easier to understand and they help people develop their language skills. However, classics have stood the test of time. They have forced people to analyse, and at the end of the day, they are classics. Overall, we ought to juggle classic and contemporary literature as both forms of enhance our learning.

There may be some controversy as to which contemporaries we should study and how often we should rotate the texts in the education curriculum. So we should read contemporary novels but, we should not entirely cut out classics as well.

And who knows, maybe someday our contemporary books will become ‘classics’.

 

I’d Be Lost without You!

Your location is neatly inputted into the box-shaped piece of plastic on
your dashboard. This enables the trusting, truthful and terrific piece of
technology to calculate your route. The Sat Nav comes alive, as you – the
driver – are demoted to passenger. The Sat Nav guides you to your required
destination, while also keeping you company in multiple languages and in
numerous charming accents. What issues can possibly be associated with such a handy
piece of technology?

Let’s be practical here. Not one of us has experienced a series of carefree and
joyful journeys with our Sat Navs. I forced my parents to ditch the device
after two strikes.

Strike One. The Sat Nav led us to believe it could be used anywhere within
Europe. This considerable advantage enticed us to bring our friend, the TomTom,
on a family trip to Madeira. The small island is easily navigated and the
plethora of signs meant that the TomTom was only needed once. The one time we
needed it, TomTom insisted that the restaurant was just “500 meters to the
right”. Unfortunately, “500 meters to the right” was not the 5 star rated,
traditional, Tuscan-style restaurant (as recommended by Trip Adviser). No,
instead it was a… cliff edge, with a perilous drop to the coastline of Madeira.

Strike Two. A friend’s Father was dropping me home. His Sat Nav was switched
on, and he thought he was too. He grasped the steering wheel, his eyes focusing
on the indented navigation screen attached to the nugget of tin that was his
car. His expression was that of an extra-terrestrial being, experiencing the A3
for the first time – rather than a Dad who had driven up and down the road
countless times. Wide-eyed, he blindly followed the instructions relentlessly booming
from the box-shaped piece of plastic, which led us on a 20 minute detour. His
unthinking attitude left me bewildered! What have Sat Navs done to our society?
Are we no longer physically capable of listening to others, looking outside or
reading directions?

When Sat Navs first came on the scene, they were the preserve of a select few.
Now almost everyone in the United Kingdom has one. The abundance of Sat Navs in
our society is polluting the young. We adopt our parent’s behaviour, observing
adults beavering away at a squashed screen, setting us a poor example. Whenever
I am asked directions, or questioned about my current location, I no longer
think to observe my surroundings; instead I immediately resort to the Sat Nav.
I toddle away as it searches for the current location, before I notice I am in
fact perching on my driveway. This embarrassing incident has happened more than
once.

I must also emphasise the practical dangers that surround the omnipresent Sat
Nav. For example, we have all either witnessed or fallen victim to tapping,
touching and thudding the Sat Nav whilst at a red light. Little does the driver
notice the amber and green warning, instead they are engrossed in the pixelated
machine, leaving them at serious risk of being shunted from behind as the
lights change.

I warn us all to adopt a change. Satellite Navigation systems have corrupted
our fragile civilisation; the ensnaring technology has engrossed naive
navigators as they fall victim to its overshadowing power. We need to look around
us, to break out of our domain of technology. We should not resort to an
artificial fixation on destinations, times and exact directions. So, next time
you hit a light, RED-read the signs, AMBER-awareness of surroundings and
GREEN-go explore.

Photo credit