In search of the unknown

Oundle pupils have been travelling the country in the name of stimulating their curiosity and pursuing learning for its own sake

As part of their trivium course, third-form (year-nine) pupils from Oundle School went out and about on ‘Trippiums’. Designed to place learning for its own sake at the heart of the curriculum, trivium is a new course based on “interestingness”. It complements the school’s voluntaries programme and extended project qualifications (EPQs), encouraging pupils to extend their learning beyond subjects for academic assessment.

Each trivium set of 1o pupils undertook a day trip linked to their course: some to Oxford or Cambridge, others to London, some to Suffolk, whilst others went as far as Devon.  Some sets visited renowned museums or quirky, off-the-beaten-track institutions where tourists do not venture. Some undertook a special workshop using the ancient printing presses of the Bodleian library in Oxford whilst others competed in a philosophers’ treasure hunt through Oxford or hunted down specific pieces of architecture in Cambridge.

Head of trivium and French teacher William Gunson said: “Pupils uncovered the unknown history of London between St Paul’s and Westminster Abbey as well as enjoying excursions to Greenwich and the Science Museum in search of lost time. One group undertook the T. S. Eliot walk from Oundle to Little Gidding, another a pilgrimage to Snape Maltings and Aldeburgh on the trail of Benjamin Britten. One group of pupils enjoyed an overnight residential look at the purely democratic Sands School, where all decisions are put to a full school vote.”

William added: “Trips were chosen to stimulate that ‘idle intellectual curiosity’ which Trevelyan identified as the lifeblood of civilised society, and the indulgence of which crosses specific subject boundaries: hence the trivium approach. Accordingly, pupils were encouraged to dig more deeply into the spirit of places visited than a sightseeing or tourist excursion might have required. Photos from the day show pupils mucking in and discovering new interests all around the country.”

The events were summed up by one boy in an email: “Dear Sir – a very big thank you for today – it was so good just to go and do something for its own sake. I spent the whole night dreaming about new things.”

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