Senior High Notes 8th March 2024

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Senior High Notes 8th March 2024

As Sir Francis Bacon proclaimed “Knowledge itself is power.” In my assembly today I discussed the idea of knowledge, power and wisdom through the captivating realm of collective nouns. From a parliament of owls to a school of fish, collective nouns embody the power of community and collaboration. Yet, the world of collective nouns is not without its complexities.
With no central authority to decide which term is correct, linguistic debates abound. Unlike the French, who have the esteemed French Academy, we navigate the nuances of English with the help of resources like the Oxford English Dictionary. In Susie Dent’s book ‘Word Perfect’, she describes how some of our favourite collective nouns – a gaggle of geese, an exaltation of larks and a murmuration of starlings, sprang from the medieval imagination.
Today, they continue to delight and intrigue us, offering glimpses into the rich tapestry of language’s evolution. More suggestions include a foothurt of Lego, a pedant of Oxford commas and a blur of opticians. But what does this knowledge actually give? As we ponder the whimsical nature of collective nouns, we are reminded of the distinction between knowledge and wisdom. While knowledge may empower us with facts, wisdom guides us in their application.
To have knowledge is to appreciate that a tomato is a fruit: to have wisdom is not to put one in a fruit salad.

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