For our first session of term we began by introducing key public speaking and presentation skills (this was an important refresher for those continuing our club session from last year) - with particular emphasis on body language, evidence, stories and rhetorical questions. We analysed why each of these are important and how we can integrate these skills into our public speaking and presentation work. In addition we looked at structure and how to itemise points during a debate (whether for the proposition or opposition) to impress both those judging as well as the audience.
We then turned to warm-up questions:
1. (a) What did you do over the holidays?/(b) What was a highlight? & most importantly Why? - particular emphasis on justification.
2. (a) What are your goals/New Year's Resolutions for 2024?/ (b) What are your hopes/aspirations for the World in 2024? - and again in each case Why?
It was great to hear such an array of highlights and holiday adventures from skiing - to staycations and city tours as well as escapes to the sun.
Goals and resolutions for 2024 ranged from taking up a new hobby, a new language, improving sporting performance and getting into a football academy, to reading more, being more punctual, to concentration in school/lessons. For the World we had reference to tackling 'inequality', 'global hunger', 'child poverty', 'climate change', 'homelessness', and 'conflict (military)'. Many referenced ongoing conflicts in Ukraine, Gaza and in the Yemen.
We encouraged the group to engage with news and the world around them, from using BBC news sources (newsround etc.) to The Week Junior and First News as well as papers and magazines (Economist & Spectator) with their families at home. This week the main headlines in addition to the news of the hottest year on record re Global Warming for 2023 took in the Post Office Scandal and so many wrongful convictions.
For our debates we split into proposition and opposition with a focus on two motions:
(i) on Christmas Trees; (ii) the second on the Abdication of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.
The two motions:
'This House believes real trees are better than plastic trees'; and 'This House believes that a monarch has the right to abdicate'.
The Christmas Tree debate inspired some tremendous contributions from the across the divide with the voting evenly balanced - sustainability and climate change weighed heavily on the arguments given.
In the second debate the longstanding service of the late Queen Elizabeth II influenced some of the voting, but the majority still felt that this was a practical solution to age and the full functioning of a leader. The Abdication crisis of the 1930s was seen as a distant historical fact rather than a guiding rule for the 21st century.
We ended the session with an 'Unseen' example - the group were asked to discuss an image of contrasting shipping routes (via the Cape of Good Hope from the Netherlands to Taiwan, or via The Suez Canal) - this has become all the more important/relevant given that major shipping companies (Maersk etc.) have announced a ban on sailing through the Red Sea given recent conflict from Yemen's Houthi Rebels.
Well done all on such a great first set of sessions this term!