The 2020 December Issue
"Katedralskole" vs. COVID-19
By Laura-Lee Williams
Ladies and gentlemen, we have witnessed and encountered the infamous COVID-19 for approximately a year. It’s not a lie that COVID has challenged our everyday lives in the most bothersome way. Unfortunately, Bergen Katedralskole has also been challenged to a match against this vicious virus, especially since November’s spike in cases. In other words, the school faced yet another lockdown as a defense mechanism. A few students and teachers were temporarily affected, but not for long.
Thankfully, the school’s administrators had to step in and take over the match. Each class was given a particular day to attend school physically, while those not present in school had online class. As a result, there was a significant decrease of students present at school. The school also made changes to the school’s original policies in order to adapt to the situation, such as sanitizing desks after each class. Changes in the seating plan meant that students were spaced out with a one desk distance between each other. Although it’s been a month since November’s rise of cases, the school continues to maintain the hand sanitizer at the entrance of the school. By doing so, the school hopes to have limited the potential breakout of the virus especially within students and teachers. For now the BKS leads with 1:0 against COVID.
The teachers were then dragged into the fight, and had to quickly adjust their teaching plan in pace with the sudden quarantine. Luckily over time, teachers were able to manage and adapt to the situation well, doing their best to provide students with the same quality of teaching. It was interesting to see teachers overcome the few challenges such as slides not working or students not cooperating. Some teachers made their test available online or simply rescheduled to a day when the students were present at school. So learning was not derailed. BKS leads with an extra point, 2:0.
After a month had gone by, it was already the first week of December with a decrease of COVID cases. The school was able to knock out COVID and everyone was finally allowed to return to school. Of course, many worried over an early celebration, that could lead to another lockdown. However, the majority of the students still remained cautious and obeyed the situation's current health guidelines. The students have also been given the privilege of having the last two days of school online. This was done so that students with families outside of the city of Bergen could celebrate Christmas, or the winter holidays with them. If not, then some students would have to quarantine themselves after arrival at Bergen, ultimately affecting their school attendance for the new year.
How an anti-political rhetoric made one of the most dangerous demagogues
By Mille Kristin Gaaserud
The afternoon of Tuesday, 8th of November 2016 was a revelation for the world – Donald Trump, the promiscuous billionaire who had made his fortune from selling real estate at New York’s finest areas, became the 45th president of the United States. After the 2016 election, in an estimated call of one minute, Hillary Clinton, the rival, and the soon to be president exchanged a brief congratulations and some civil adjectives - for once. Clinton has later expressed how surprised the soon to be President sounded after her phone call to concede, and how this made her worried for the role he was about to take on. Political experts such as CNN key model and Washington Post's national political columnist Greg Sargen had predicted a win for the democrats, contemplating Trump's lack of experience and his use of anti-political rhetoric in the campaign. Taking the predictions and expectations into consideration, how did Trump manage to stun political watchers, pollsters and the world. And more importantly, how on earth did an avaricious bachelor that had none to little knowledge about the world of politics become the president of the United States of America?
American politics is often ferocious, that said, Donald Trump has taken the use of rhetoric to new extents. According to the infamous Greek philosopher, Aristotle, rhetoric is “the ability, in each particular case, to see the available means of persuasion”. Even though Trump has most likely not studied Aristotle’s theories concerning rhetoric, his ways of appealing to his viable voters is relevant to the ethos of rhetoric, “the art to persuade.”
The word “decorum” origins from a rhetorical strategy that is based on the style of appropriateness. Considering Trump's style of speaking, appealing and managing situations, it is possible to conclude that Trump is entirely without decorum. In fact, Trump's use of rhetoric is adjacent to decorum, making his rhetoric indecorum, “failure to conform to good propriety”. Thus, indecorum is often found in informal situations, or in this case, anti-political rhetoric.
By using decorum rhetoric as political propaganda, the Trump's campaign has managed to present themselves as a campaign of geniality, “the quality of having a cheerful manner”. Indeed, this may just be the main point of this whole article, Trump is a genius by using his prestige authority to manipulate the public. By appearing and seeming like he understands the people (or the voters) frustrations, he is describing the circumstances and conditions as intricate.
Making the voters almost infantilizing themselves, viewing Trump as a prototypical American, and a demagogue of voice, who they would otherwise feel voiceless and helpless without. Instead of making the voters feel independent, they feel dependent on Trump to lead them through the tragedy of the present. They focus on the message and not holding him accountable for his ways of political incorrectness or his arousal of the nationalists and the fascists of the country.
Taking into account the fact that Trump is a demagogue for his voters, his supporters will think of him as a great leader – perhaps even the best. On the opposite hand, the ones in opposition to his politics, may view him as a terrible leader. These views create a separation between the groups, the ones in favor of him, and the group that does not offer their support, forcing them to choose a side. The so-called “sides” may not only just represent the individual's political view, but the individuality of their character. Meaning that political polarization will be generated, resulting in America deepening inequality and growing political wars.
To consider the use of Donald Trump’s rhetoric in a presidential election, the rhetoric’s play an immense role, not just to the outcome of the election, but also to the country’s dynamic. By using anti-political rhetoric, not only will the politics but the inhabitants of the US be affected in a much greater way, - and in this case, negatively.
Maybe it is time for the republican party to bring back some class. My tip? Read a book or two about what Aristotle’s actually meant by using rhetoric’s for social security.
Tom About Art
By Tom Costigan
I have an incredible job. I teach Visual Art to teenagers, which is a wonderfully preposterous endeavour.
Simply “Art” would have been impossibly broad, at least I have that caveat of “visual” to focus the beam a little so the subject only covers the concepts and crafts of drawing, painting, etching, printing, photography, collage, textile design, sculpture, installation, video, animation, architecture, digital manipulation, dance and performance art. Piece of cake.
So how do you teach all that in an 18-month High-School course? Well, you don’t of course. You make practical choices based on the time, skills and materials available; and reach for the skies while having your feet still firmly anchored on a paper-maché plinth. As much as we might love (or hate) Jeff Koon’s 4-metre-tall stainless-steel sculptures of balloon animals, we realistically won’t be making any giant dogs at Katten, so we’ll opt to paint flying whales instead.
The world of Art is so amazingly varied that each student is likely to come into the course with their own ideas and preferences and will be encouraged to explore and expand upon these areas of interest. As an art teacher I know that my area is as subjective as it gets, shrouded in personal tastes and opinion. On a logical level I simply can’t argue with “I don’t like PushWagner’s work”, even if I like it and think it’s funny – interestingly we are both correct in this instance. If Math were my subject I’d have the privilege of imparting actual universal truths. Something undeniable. I dream of this at night before waking up to realize I have to go work and face a bunch of kids who don’t “get” why Marina Abramovich is ground-breaking, and more importantly, face the fact that they are probably right. I’m comically fuming at the very thing that makes the whole endeavour so wonderful – there is no right and wrong here, at least not when it comes to taste.
Simple reminder: texts are read from left to right before the page break
Every year, I’m delighted to discover new artists I’d never heard of thanks to my opinionated and expressive students. Discussions and debates about Art are one cornerstone of the Art-course. The point isn’t to form people’s taste, but to provide the students with the toolset to explain, defend and explore those tastes. Pragmatically this skill is useful for one of the course components, which I’ll get to, but it’s also invaluable for future dinner parties where you can tell snobby old artsy-farts like myself not just that “Warhol sucks” but exactly how he sucks, why he sucks, who he plagiarized, where I can see better art for free – and do it all with more eloquence than that.
1: Unknown primitive woman, 37000 BC (above)
2: Michelangelo Buonarotti, 1512 AD (above, right)
3: Elly Smallwood, 2016 AD (below, right)
Two won’t do
The Chinese have an expression about a painting, saying one needs: “a good eye, a good hand and a good mind – two won’t do”. This idea somewhat echoes the approach we have to teaching IB art, we train the eye to look, the hand to draw and the mind to think creatively.
As budding artists, we spend a lot of time looking at art and enriching our palette(e)s. This includes art documentaries and online museums, but also visiting local galleries and talking about Art with curators and other artists. This connects directly to one of the course components, a Comparative Study where each art-student looks at and compares work from different artists, also documenting how these pieces have influenced their own art-making. Unless you actually ARE that cave-woman who first put a hand-print on a wall then your art is influenced by that of others. It’s important to recognize one’s roots, and as artists we are treading in the footprints of some of the most creative folk ever to walk the earth, it’s both humbling and exciting.
If it were only about looking, then every museum-goer would be a new Picasso. Art is obviously a very practical subject, and we spend as much time training our hands to draw as we do our eyes to see. Most lessons involve practice with pencil, pen or brush at the very least. Guided sessions to introduce new techniques are the first steps, but there is no secret that it’s practice that makes perfect. Nobody is born drawing well, it is an acquired skill, and personally when I feel like I’m useless at a certain type of drawing I find it reassuring to think that when he first picked up a pencil neither was Michelangelo. He had to practice like everyone else, and boy did he practice…
Each art-student documents their work in their artist journal, typically a quite worn book full of half-finished sketches and barely-legible notes. This is the Artist’s secret laboratory, where skills are practised, ideas form and either crackle and pop in the bubbling cauldron or burst forth and take on a life of their own. This ever-morphing Artist’s diary will form the basis of a second course component, the Process Portfolio. In this document the art-student will show us behind the curtain, how they developed their skill, their eye, their taste, how their ideas formed and ultimately how they made their art.
Last but not least we have the Exhibition, the 3rd and possibly most exciting component. Over the 18 months the Art-Student builds up a body of work in various media, at the culmination of this they pick 6 to 11 pieces to exhibit. The 18-month course is structured around teacher-led units based on various techniques (e.g. perspective drawing, photo collage), materials (e.g. ink, acrylic paint, charcoal) or indeed an art-movement (e.g. fauvism, surrealism), and the student is expected to show diversity in their aforementioned Portfolio. However when it comes to the exhibition the young artists are able to choose (almost) any form of expression they want and focus on theme(s) they’re passionate about using material(s) they are skilled with. The exhibition, usually hosted in the School Gym, is a 2/3 day tribute to the Artist’s work over the 18 months. This is the final exam for IB art-Students but also a first glimpse into playing the Art “game”: making something and exhibiting it so that others can appreciate and criticize it. Scary, but fantastically fun.
Those are the 3 Bears the IB Visual Arts Student has to face, armed with a trained eye, a busy hand and a creative mind. We strive to work with all three, because as the Chinese say: “Two won’t do”.
Ending Year 2020 with our “Secret Santa-Giftees”
Written by Ngoc Lan Ho
After a few weeks of social distancing with online school, students and teachers were finally allowed to meet up as normal. By the end of November most of the students were excited and thankful to meet up physically, leaving behind the days with awkward Google Meets and postponed tests. They decided to do something lovely for each other, in hopes to at least end 2020 with a little bit of happiness.
A student from 2IB came up with the idea of having Secret Santa for the coming holiday season, where participants would draw random names to become someone’s Secret Santa and send their Christmas wishes through small presents.
More than 20 students participated and all the presents were given out on the last day at school before winter break. It was a great opportunity for all the students to warm the giftees’ hearts and do something fun together. The presents varied from student to student but each of them contained the most lovely and heartfelt wishes to the receivers.
Secret Santa is an excitement of buying gifts, receiving and guessing one’s Secret Santa. Through this small and sweet event, the 2IB has had a cheerful year’s end after weeks of hard work.
With that being said, the Katfood wishes you a Merry Christmas and a happy new year. Let’s hope that year 2021 will be better somehow, shall we?
See you next year!