Off the Curriculum


I recently had the inspiring experience of meeting Off the Curriculum. This initiative by young educators (themselves still university students) provides a high-end seminar series, at present via livestream, to 16-18 year olds in two south London boroughs. The course currently running is about Astrophysics.


I love this idea, because it's clearly effective for school students to encounter teachers who are not that much older than they are. Especially as OtC's part-time officers are not official 'teachers' - rather, they're enthusiasts. The important point is also being made that if you go on to college, you won't be studying your subjects in the same way that you did at school. I was interested that my own invitation to speak came when OtC's Nicole Levermore (currently a PhD student in Auditory Neuroscience) discovered a programme note I'd written about my interest in Chinese philosophy. I'd mentioned that this had started as a teenage hobby. Another of my own observations, often mentioned during school visits, is that when planning future studies, you should pay at least as much attention to your personal enthusiasms as to the school subjects you may have been successful in.


My OtC interview with Nicole Levermore and Nicole Curtis ( a Neuroscience MSc at KCL) took place in Imperial College's beautifully appointed arts wing, The Blyth Centre. Unsurprisingly the college's hard working science students make much use spare time of music, perhaps grateful for its its unusual mixture of calm relaxation and animated focus, something we discussed in our interview. In the Blyth, we found ourselves surrounded by people practising instruments, also industriously Off the Curriculum for an hour or two.


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JUDITH WEIR

Composer