Table Tennis – Day One (Like A Clueless Salamander)

Tuesday 8th October

Table tennis! A sport which I could not have imagined myself doing not too long ago. Yet, it was fun. Albeit – I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Though, we were able to play a few matches, all of them Doubles matches, and they fared unexpectedly well, with Lucas Spencer, a much more experienced player than I, giving me tips along the way.

I thought that table tennis would be the least exhausting of all sports because movement is practically zero (or so I thought), but I ended up exhausted, although enlightened. As I learnt – table tennis is not so easy after all.

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Debating – Day Four (At Long Last)

Wednesday 9th October

Finally – the day of the debate came, and I, alongside two of my teammates, argued as to why violent video games should be banned. Having the most knowledge of the psychological basis for video game influence,  I decided that I should be the first speaker, unfamiliar territory – as I have always been the Summariser throughout most of my debating ‘career’.

I have to say – I underperformed, generally, I think, because I had designed my speech to suit a greater amount of time than I was given (2 minutes). Although, I am glad to have been able to answer an opponent’s Point of Information by reciting a certain case study (Ramirez et al, 2001) that, undeniably, put us on better footing.

Eventually, after arguments had been traded, our CCA’s caretaker, Mr Roberts (with hair) decided that both sides were equally matched, and that the debate ended with a draw – which was disappointing because I knew that I could have done better by choosing points which were easier to explain.

1925 Award – Day Four (ACRES)

Wednesday 9th October

The lesson was a relaxing one, which came as a relief to all of us. The first hour was spent doing the usual duties – planning and clearing things up for the rest of the course. I was tasked with writing a letter to parents of our ‘minions’ informing them of the upcoming outdoor activities, which included the Green Corridor and The Pit.

The next hour, believe it or not, included even less activity from us. Instead, we sat through a delightful one hour talk by representatives for ACRES, an organisation which aims to elevate the welfare of animals across the globe – although, only in South East Asia for now. I’m not just saying it was good because it’s the nice thing to say – I was genuinely interested. Honestly.

I have to say, I was impressed as well by how active the minions were in answering questions and taking part – including one specific Year 7 who knew far more about the world of animal cruelty than I did. When the hour was over, we all headed off.

Manga Club – Day Two (Miracle Fish)

Friday 4th October

Another searing walk from Holland Village MRT to our site, another few hours of relaxation and deep thought. Deep thought – of course – interrupted by those sporadic bursts of banter or music.

However, we further refined the story, after changing it radically throughout the past week, and began drawing the basic storyboard, giving our artists something to work from. In order to capture the atmosphere needed, we watched a short film, which I had seen in GCSE Film Studies before, called Miracle Fish, a quick yet gripping film which fiddles with subtlety and tone extremely well.

Debating – Day Three (An Hour of Espionage)

Wednesday 2nd October

This week, we didn’t do any debating at all, rather, we were introduced to a topic and asked to research and discuss it among our groups in preparation for the actual debate to be delivered the following week. And the topic in question: Violent Video Games and how they should be banned on the grounds that they induce violence within people.

Now, I was extremely glad to have heard this because it means that all that knowledge which I had gathered in GCSE Psychology was actually going to be used. I admit – I’ve actually been surprised by just how GCSE Psychology has been relevant in my life (or, at least, the part of it where I argue with people regarding ethical issues), and this was an opportunity to finally apply what I had learnt.

Why do I posit the title like so, you might ask? Well, for the majority of the hour spent researching, each ‘faction’ was constantly in the process of sending spies to the other’s table in hopes that they might acquire decent intelligence regarding their opponents’ arguments. The most creative, albeit unsuccessful attempt by an enemy spy was crawling under the table to sneak up on our iPad screens. He just ended up getting himself trapped.

1925 Award – Day Three (I Can Only Sigh)

Wednesday 2nd October

One of the most important life lessons I have learnt, and I did so on the day, is that handling children can be a true pain. That day, after our initial of discussion (as usual), we met the Year 7s again and got them to create and design a video advert showcasing what the 1925 Award is about to all of their peers (in their tutor groups, perhaps). This week, much to our pleasure, they had memorised practically all of our names, and, if I may be honest, I had gotten nowhere in memorising theirs. We then split into gender groups (Boys vs Girls) and we were off.

Now, keep in mind that we used several motivators to get them to do the best work they could. In the end, we planned to compare the two adverts and choose a winner. The winning side would not only receive a set prize, but be able to punish the losers with whatever punishment they wanted (within reason, of course). However, motivation was visibly low, loss of concentration was visibly high, and we did not get much done at all. By the end of the collaborative hour, we had compiled a set of random and unpremeditated clips without much purpose at all – but at least they make for an entertaining video, potentially. Afterwards, we set them off with the task of editing these films in their free time. They were, after all, graced with lovely iPads which my generation wouldn’t have ever dreamed of having.

Manga Club – Day One (The Cake was Nice)

Friday 27th September

Manga Club. I had always wanted to join – yet by the time I discovered its existence in our school, all slots were filled. However, by the grace of the owner of the house which we would inhabit during the duration of the club, I was allowed to join – perhaps just occasionally, to contribute.

My role was that of storywriter, along with one Ranait Flanagan, and our task was to design a short video raising awareness for those with depression. It’s interesting to note that talking about depression really can make one feel, well…depressed. Fortunately enough, we knew somebody who had gone through this exact experience, and so, we gained valuable insight into what it means to be depressed, which helped greatly in driving the story forward.

The concept was simple, but we encountered numerous problems involving art-styles and narratives. However, by the end of our time there, we had formulated a basic story outline and all artists had pitched in their individual designs, of which the most favourable was to be chosen next week. And, oh, I can’t forget…the cake was nice.

Debating – Day Two (“We Should Let Them Go Insane and Kill Themselves Instead”)

Wednesday 25th September

Today, we had our first ‘real’ debate – three speakers on either side, a Chair, and a floor. The motion? “Capital Punishment”. In the past, I have debated this issue three times – and I have been on the Proposing side three times.

I have to give credit to my opponents, although this was perhaps one of the most entertaining debates of my life (not quite as humorous as that one time the opposition did not understand the motion and so we engaged in a ‘parallel debate’. I’ll leave you to guess what that means). My opponent found himself arguing that killing criminals is inhumane, but then iterating, not much later on, “We Should Let Them Go Insane and Kill Themselves Instead”. Needless to say, not just one eyebrow was raised that day.

In the end, my side attained victory – because of both the credibility of our arguments, and the internal contradictions in theirs. A fun lunchtime indeed.

1925 Award – Day Three (Here Come the Sevens)

Wednesday 25th September

The first hour started as most of our previous sessions had – with intense (arguably, at least) discussion as to what we would do with the Year 7s (dubbed ‘minions’) during this first day with them. Dan Niele and I had settled, reasonably quickly, that we would take our little minions to the rooftop of the Junior Building and play a series of three activities; hoop tag, stuck in the mud and capture the flag, respectively. Let me explain…

Hoop Tag: Like tag, but all the taggers hold hoops. A ‘tag’ occurs when one of the taggers is able to put one of the runners through the hoop (by moving the hoop, of course, not the runner). The victim then becomes the new tagger, albeit unable to tag their recent assailant. I found that standing by the corner and acting inconspicuous was the best method of defence to employ…seeing as nobody tended to notice me.

Stuck in the Mud: Like tag, once again, however, all victims are forced to stand frozen in space, and they are only freed when another running is able to touch them. Therefore, my tactic was to stand guard next to any of my victims, letting the other taggers go off on their hunts. Traditionally, Stuck in the Mud is played so that freeing a victim would require the passage of his or her liberator between his or her legs. However, seeing as two females in our entourage were wearing skirts, we decided this a slight bit too risky (Year 7 is ‘that’ age for teenage boys, anyway…)

Capture the Flag: Two balls (flags) on either side. One team has to capture the other side’s ball and bring it back to their own. If an enemy crosses over to one’s half of the pitch, one is allowed to ‘tag’ them and place them in the jail. Prisoners can be liberated by touching, much like Stuck in the Mud, one of their allies. However, prisoners, of course, must stay in the prison. My own personal suggestion was to play ‘Capture the Human’, but inherent laws of ethics seemed to disagree with me.

All in all, after an arduous hour of visiting offices and asking for e-mails from various individuals, we were able to settle the location and the equipment which we needed. The minions responded must more positively than I initially expected. So, conclusively, I feel inclined to say that the first day was a bountiful success.

Debating – Day One (An Introduction to Verbal Warfare)

Wednesday 18th September

I remember two years ago, at the dawn of Year 10, when they announced that they would hold a Debating CCA during certain lunchtimes. Giles and I (of whom the former is a friend of mine) find ourselves waging three-hour debates on occasional nights regarding even the most insignificant and trivial of issues, most of which associated with the English language, therefore the same train of thought was echoing through both our heads: “Why the hell didn’t I join the CCA?”

My response was, of course, to actually join this year, with hopes that it would be as invigorating as I thought. And as it so happens, I wasn’t disappointed. The first day comprised of having short and snappy introductory debates between two willing (and in some cases, unwilling) individuals on issues which they only had up to twenty seconds to reflect on before having to speak their mind to the rest of the class. Most interesting was the interplay between the debaters and the floor after they had given their opening statements. A ‘battleground’ wouldn’t be such a gross overstatement to describe the sheer heat at which comments, rebuttals and accusations were flung across the room. All in all, I have to say that the Oxford interns did an impressive job in jump-starting the CCA for this year.