Gryphon student Josh is named as a TEDxSherborne speaker

Sixth Former Josh Shortman has just been named as one of the speakers at the inaugural TEDxSherborne event this May. More than 100 speakers applied and Josh successfully navigated two rounds of auditions, no mean feat for a 17 year old.

Josh has a keen interest in history, particularly the Cold War era, both inside and outside of school. He was struck by the magnitude of the period – the conflict of the two greatest political ideologies, resulting in the triumph of democracy, political revolutions and the creation and dissolution of countries and states. In stark contrast, he says the current political climate seems ‘entirely petty by comparison’. Unsurprisingly then, this has provided the inspiration for Josh’s speech at TEDx, which will be focused on democracy.

Home educated in Warwickshire until he was 13, Josh met up regularly with other students at a Home Ed Club, where his interest in debating was piqued. He’s had experience of debating competitions at Rotary Speaks, Warwick University and the Oxford Students’ Union. While he enjoyed these, Josh says he’s naturally more of a writer than a debater, preferring to have time to research and mull over his thoughts as they evolve.

When he first applied to be a TEDx Sherborne speaker Josh says he “had no idea of the scale of the event – I’d never have anticipated this interview for example!” The TEDx team was inundated with applications, and there was a competitive selection process. While some may have found this daunting, Josh said it was a surprisingly enjoyable experience, and hearing the other auditionees and chatting to them was incredibly interesting. After getting through the first round, Josh has been supported by the TEDx team and Gryphon teachers who have provided guidance, coaching and acting advice.

Teacher Beth Oxford said “TEDx is a fantastic opportunity for young people in our town to get their voices heard. I am incredibly proud that he has been selected to speak. Josh has worked really hard on an interesting idea, one which is relevant to all young people and he, and all of the other speakers, will gain a great deal from this experience”.

Josh’s final audition was delivering a five minute talk on his chosen topic and having impressed the selection panel, he is now working on developing this into his 18 minute long speech for the TEDxSherborne event.

Josh says, “The whole experience has been amazing, and is helping with my confidence in public speaking. The more I do it, the better I get and it’s wonderful to have this impetus to work on my speaking skills. Having the other speakers to talk to and seek advice from has also been incredibly helpful. It’s such an exciting opportunity to be involved in a TEDx talk that will be available globally, for posterity.”

As well as preparing for the TEDx talk, Josh is also studying for his A levels in History, English Literature and Music.  Specialising in playing the recorder (he is currently Grade 8), he also plays the piano and saxophone. Having only moved to Dorset last year, he says the atmosphere at The Gryphon was ‘immediately supportive’ and he is enjoying his time in the Sixth Form. He hopes to go on to study a combination of Human Social and Political Sciences.



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