We were delighted to begin club sessions this year with St. Kitts International Academy - a tremendous school (and ethos) in the Caribbean.
As the first session of term, we started with an introduction to key public speaking and presentation skills - with particular emphasis on body language, evidence, stories and rhetorical questions. It was great to see 'smiling' and 'being polite' picked out as key body language skills and both are hugely important when persuading an audience or a judge of your view/side.
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, doing better in exams, to improving tennis and swimming performance, to helping others. For the World we had reference to tackling 'climate change', cleaning up the seas and oceans, and recycling more. The was also a hope or aim to ending wars.
We then asked, 'If you were Prime Minister what would be your top priority?' This led to a fascinating array of different options and plans - from again helping to tidy up the island and recycling more, to working out a better plan for much needed construction, but that did not disrupt transport/getting to school and other activities, to improving educational opportunities for all.
For our main debates we split into proposition and opposition with a focus on the motion:
(i) 'This House would give Reading more Lesson time'
It was great to see points both for and against the motion, but the centre of the debate rested on widening knowledge (whether fact or fiction), improving exam performance, and increasing vocabulary against time for extra-curricular activities and other subjects such as mathematics.
The group voted unanimously in favour of the motion.
(ii) Our debate of the week took in a Philosophical Question: 'This House believes money makes you happy'?
Going back to Biblical times, the love of money has been seen/viewed as potentially harmful - or the excessive attachment to material wealth. St Paul is often quoted/referred to as saying 'money is the root of all evil'. Yet, as the group pointed out, financial stability is something a vast majority want or aim for in order to provide/attain the basics of life. Arguments also ranged from nuanced approaches saying that it was not money, but rather what money can buy that makes one happy, such as new toys, or a new tennis racquet, to those saying that 'giving' was better than receiving.
We also reviewed two unseen examples: a Container Shipping Map including the different routes - via the Cape of Good Hope or through the Suez Canal (in the context of Red Sea shipping disruption) and A Twelfth Night Cake.
Well done all on a wonderful start to the term of debate and discussion!