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Stephen Fry at the Hay Festival, by Finn Beales

Hay Levels To Inspire Teenagers

It was one of those twists of fate that is inspiring enough in itself. When a minibus of A level students picked up an extra passenger at Hereford Station to go to the Hay Festival, it turned out to be renowned mathematician Marcus du Sautoy – who turned the trip into an impromptu maths masterclass.

With that happy event, an idea was born. And this autumn the Hay Festival launched  the “Hay Levels” – a series of inspiring mini-lectures available for free on YouTube.

Presented by prominent academics from universities around the world, including theoretical physicist Jim al Khalili, biologist Richard Dawkins, historian Simon Schama and Du Sautoy himself, the Hay Levels  are arranged into three groups – Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences. Stephen Fry (who is Cameron Mackintosh Professor of Theatre at Oxford) is due to make a film on exam technique.

They cover, in bite-sized form, science subjects including the Black Death, the Big Bang and Human Evolution,and humanities subjects like the origins of World War One and Platonic ethics. Literary masterpieces The Great Gatsy and Frankenstein are covered, while in the social sciences there are talks on law, economics and psychology among many others.

It is expected that around 100 Hay Level videos will be made. More than 40 are available at the time of writing, with 10 more going out each Tuesday.

Peter Florence, Director of Hay Festival, said: “These are great teachers, and their generosity and clarity are extraordinary.”

The Hay Festival is a cultural gathering once described by Bill Clinton as “the Woodstock of the mind”. The festival’s website notes: “The [Hay Levels] project is supported by our partners, the Tata group, and has been designed as a collaboration with Hereford Sixth Form College, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and the British Council, with whom Hay Festival has a Global Strategic Partnership.”

See the Hay Levels

Find out more about the Hay Festival

Posted by Nicholas Manthorpe on Tue, 31 Jan 2017



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Nick was a reporter for the Eastern Daily Press and its sister weekly titles in Norfolk and Waveney, then served as Media Officer for North Norfolk District Council for 13 years. He now works as a writer and PR and media relations consultant. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, an associate member of the Chartered Management Institute and a member of East Anglian Writers.

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