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Mrs Crouch: Oratio lectures

10 October 2019

Dear Parents and girls

We are very excited this year to be launching our Sutton High School ‘Oratio’ lecture programme for students and parents.

Lectures are a recognised and valuable teaching method in many circumstances, particularly in higher education. They are especially important for communicating conceptual knowledge and where there is a significant knowledge gap between lecturer and audience. However, there are many who advocate their replacement with written communications or electronic media.

Lectures are effective because they exploit the spontaneous human aptitude for spoken (rather than written) communications and because they are real-time, human-presence social events (rather than electronic media). Literacy is a recently cultural artefact and for most of our evolutionary history humans spontaneously communicated information by speech.

The second reason for lectures’ effectiveness is that they are formally-structured social events. They are delivered by an actually-present individual, and this creates a here-and-now social situation which makes lectures easier to attend to. The formal structure of a lecture therefore artificially focuses attention and generates authority for the lecturer to make their communications more memorable.

We began our series of lectures during Languages week with Dr Martin Brady from King’s College London talking about Americans in German Film from 1945-1990. We continued with a visit from an alumna, Dr Josie Rawes from the University of Bristol introducing us to ‘The Dark Side of the Universe’ during Science week before hearing from Zoe Griffiths on ‘Maths as Communication’ as part of Maths week.

All lectures take place from 4-5pm, in The Study or the Lees Hall, with all parents welcome to attend, there is no need to book. We hope you will be able to attend many of these over the coming months starting with the talk on ‘Measuring the Environment’ with Dr Jennifer Clarke from the National Physical Laboratory.

Mrs Katharine Crouch
Headmisstress