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Philosophy Masterclass

Mrs Philippa Toogood, Head of Religious Studies at Down House School, visited Ashfold to present a masterclass entitled ‘Harry Potter and the Philosophers' to children in Forms IV - VI.

The children listened keenly as Mrs Toogood introduced the concept of Reality, Science, Mind and Soul. We were asked to consider what we thought reality actually was and whether dreams were real.

We compared Plato to Dumbledore and Aristotle to Snape. The concept of empirical evidence was introduced, and how experience comes from the senses. Discussions about potions and invisibility cloaks were combined with a telling of Gyges Ring.

The children were asked to think about what memory actually is.  Opinions differed on whether Sirius is a man who turns into a dog or a dog who turns into a man, and whether his mind and soul remains the same when he is in either form.

We discovered that J.K. Rowling cites being influenced by the Inklings of Oxford and used ideas from J.R.R.Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and  C.S.Lewis’  Narnia.

Mrs Toogood peppered her talk with video clips from some of the Harry Potter films to give examples of her themes which added to everyone’s overall enjoyment. Who can resist a deep philosophical chat between Dumbledore and Harry?!

The children asked some sensible questions and all felt that they had enjoyed an afternoon puzzling over quite difficult philosophical questions.

Our thanks to Mrs Toogood for opening our minds and helping us question reality.

Jan Price
Head of RS & PSHE

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