Are you sure?
And so, one of my favourite films of all time (even more so than Maverick) has a sequel… Neytiri and Jake return in Avatar: the Way of Water. It is the first of four planned sequels in 3D that will further explore the world of these environmentally and socially-connected Pandorans. Released in 2009, it became the first ever film to break the $2billion mark at the box office even though its star, Sam Worthington, and in an attempt to keep the budget down, was relatively unknown.
When interviewed, the director, James Cameron, confessed that he only made blockbusters to fund his true passion, that of deep-sea exploration. In 2012 he piloted the first solo mission to the bottom of the Marianas trench some 6.8miles (11km) below the Western Pacific and the deepest point on earth. The previous visit had occurred in 1960. Were Mt Everest submerged in the trench, it would still be 2km short of the surface. That’s pretty deep… Rather depressingly, on Cameron’s visit he found a plastic bag and sweet wrappers, though in better news, he also found many species of sea creatures.
Avatar mark 1 was voted Top Blockbuster of the 2000s, which got me thinking about the previous century. Can you guess what topped the charts in the other decades? (Answers at the bottom of this blog).
I am sure Cameron would have been rubbing his hands in glee (or should that be scuba gear?), for a little while back, it was announced that Zealandia, a submerged and lost continent had been found, of which New Zealand was the tiny remaining proportion standing defiantly above the crashing Pacific waves and powerful ocean currents.
Thanks to some clever geological mapping and knowledge of zircon crystals, several scientists had (relatively) accurately mapped out a continent that that existed as part of Pangaea, the world’s first supercontinent that split apart 200 million years ago.
Sounds exciting, but on closer inspection, this assertion may be inaccurate, as some scientists believe that there have been three or four iterations of this supercontinent (the first one was called ‘Ur’), and prior to that, island chains similar to Japan today floated around the oceans bumping into each other (that’s how parts of Canada were formed…). As a geographer, this discovery was hugely exciting, but as a layperson, it has made me (yet again) question what I know, or at least, what I thought I knew.
Bertrand Russel’s quote “the older I get, the less I know,” seems ever truer these days. The Greek philosopher, Socrates, was once considered the wisest man on earth, such was his academic and philosophic prowess. Yet before he died (actually he was put to death for his views), he claimed he knew nothing. This prompted the Oracle at Delphi (a location perceived 2,500 years ago to be the centre of the world) and whose advice would always be sought before significant decisions by rulers, to say that only the wisest individual in the world would know they knew nothing and have the courage and humility to say it.
At LWC, our pupils, like all others, find themselves on the academic treadmill of learning facts, figures and theories to support their exam answers only to unlearn many of these again as they move to the next level of their education. Scientific truths that we, as parents, learned in the 70s and 80s are now wrong, or at best obsolete (poor old Pluto and global cooling). Such shifting thinking merely reinforces the need to equip our pupils with academic curiosity and help them to see beyond the status quo, to question what is put in front of them (Brussel sprouts included) and enhance their emotional intelligence.
The older I become, the more I enjoy having time to think and reflect, to put the brain into neutral and let it wander as the aroma of a caffeinated beverage drifts across an open space. Helping our pupils finds those spaces is a target of ours, or to quote our chaplain, our “hit pause moments.” It is all too easy to jump to conclusions in this digitally enhanced, 5G-enabled, social-media driven merry-go-round, but questioning what is in front of us is best done in spaces detached from the frenzied pace of life and it only by challenging what we know that the next great discoveries will be made.
And so, a quiz to finish.
True or False
Sharks die when they stop swimming
Still water is more hydrating than fizzy
Lightning never strikes twice
Fish have a 5 second memory
Bananas grow on trees
Fresh vegetables are better than frozen ones
Mount Everest in the tallest mountain on the planet
Einstein failed Maths in school
The Great Wall of China is visible from space
Bulls get angry when they see red
If you said true to any of these, best go back to the beginning of this article, because none are… But before you do, hit pause and make those new discoveries…though you could start by watching Avatar again.
Blockbusters through the decades
1930s: Gone with the Wind
1950s: The Ten Commandments
1960s: The Sound of Music
1970s: Star Wars: A New Hope
2010s: Avengers: Endgame