It was great to catch up with familiar faces and many new members at our Debating & Interview Club this week.
For the New Year we began with a recapitulation of key public speaking and presentation skills - with particular emphasis on body language, evidence, stories and rhetorical questions. We focussed on 'Evidence' from media outlets both at home and abroad (CNN/Fox News for instance in the US with an election fast approaching) and how best to assess reliability - what to trust? What to look for from various news/media outlets (?) not least in an age of 'fake news' and with social media. We encouraged students to ask questions of the information out there and to look at as wide an array of news coverage - to provide balance.
We then turned to a warm-up question(s):
(a) What are your goals/New Year's Resolutions for 2024? or/and (b) What are your hopes/aspirations for the World in 2024? - and again in each case Why?
This was a hugely impressive section with a wonderful array of goals and resolutions for 2024 from greater studying focus, riding challenges, swimming targets, improving sporting performance in netball, playing county cricket, reading more, to being more empathetic and helping out more at home. For the World we had reference to tackling 'climate change', and mediating/ending 'conflict (military)'.
For our newsround we focussed on the Post Office Scandal that is frontpage news for the present and the greatest miscarriage of justice in the UK's recent history. As always we encourage our members to look at newsround, The Week Junior, First News and other news sources with their families throughout the term to keep up-to-speed with current affairs. As per last term, it is great when the pupils drive the debating topics from topics they have read about and it was superb to see the group well aware of the crisis with global shipping and the Red Sea/Yemen. We covered an 'unseen' example of shipping routes to widen the discussion.
Our debate of the week on the back of Rishi Sunak's proposed changes to education took in the motion:
(i) 'This House would give Reading more Lesson time'
The group voted overwhelmingly in favour at both tellings, with strong argumentation for the benefits of wider reading, extending knowledge and improving vocabulary. Opposition arguments rested less on anti-reading and more on providing more time for ICT, coding and Mathematics.
A superb first debate of term! Well done all.