Concordia Winter 2023


bird’s beak hits the tree trunk, that tongue acts as a shock absorber to protect its brain from injury. I find that knowledge irresistible, but it fits into no category of learning that is obviously useful. However, I bet it made you smile. And that is important too: sometimes it is good for us to know something, just for the sake of it. What is the essence of a great education? What should we stand for? I think that five words can define what I wish for our pupils. They are these: innovation, bravery, confidence, inspiration and joy. That is why those words lie at the heart of a Merchant Taylors’ education. They define us, not as an aspiration, but as a daily reality. They ground us, as we hold the more abstruse philosophical arguments of this article in our thoughts. It is good to see that the end of the definition of a good education is the simplest of words: joy.

You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me, You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self. But we can go yet further in our exemplars of teaching and learning. What if we were to try to make our pupils more like Leonardo da Vinci? We find Leonardo at the spot where technological skill and creativity meet. He not only connected art and science; he refused to make any distinction between them. That made Leonardo a mathematician, surgeon, architect, visionary inventor, painter, sculptor and engineer. Leonardo used his notebooks to guide his learning. Here is a favourite extract: ‘Describe the tongue of the woodpecker’. Let us take that challenge Leonardo gave himself. The tongue of the woodpecker is many times longer than its beak and is coiled around inside the skull of the woodpecker. Amazingly, at the moment that the

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