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The Socratic Club - 21st January

As per the first sessions of term, we continued our review of key public speaking and presentation skills - with particular emphasis on smiling more and ending a speech on a positive note (or with a rhetorical question). We spent some time in both groups looking at how to source 'Evidence', with particular attention to media outlets both at home and abroad - CNN/Fox News for instance in the US with an election fast approaching -  and how they reflect differing political opinion (Democrat/Republican etc.). We discussed how best to assess reliability and bias and what to trust? Throughout, we encouraged both Junior and Senior club members to look for perspective/balance and to take in as wide an array of sources as possible. As in our school sessions, 'fake news' and the challenges of social media were raised too. We also asked more philosophically whether 'truth' could be regulated? In each case voting was divided on the topic, not least because of the complexity of measuring 'truth' and the importance of 'freedom of speech'. 


Our warm up question asked:

If you were Prime Minister, what would be your priorities?

Here we saw an impressive range of key goals/targets including 'growing the economy', 'tackling climate change', 'increasing educational spending', 'helping with the cost of living', 'improving healthcare and building more hospitals', 'reducing inflation', 'trying to stop conflict/military actions more generally and with particular concern with recent developments from/in Iran', and 'sorting out the post office scandal' at home amongst others.

For our newsround we covered the crisis in the Red Sea and the impact on trade routes and the Post Office Scandal that remains frontpage news as the greatest miscarriage of justice in the UK's recent history. 

On the back of Sir Michael Morpurgo's call for the Government to invest urgently in early years reading we turned to a debate on the motion:

(i) 'This House would give Reading more Lesson time'.

The Junior Group voted in favour of the motion (63% for) whilst the Senior Group remained evenly divided at both tellings (50%/50%). Both groups saw the benefits of wider reading, extending knowledge and improving vocabulary, however, opposition arguments (resting less on anti-reading) focussed on other priorities from ICT, to coding and Mathematics. Considerable concern was also raised as to extending already long school days and impacting on time for extra-curricular activities such as sport. 

Our second debate was on the motion:

(ii) 'This House supports the bombing campaign of the US, UK and allies in the Yemen against the Houthi rebels'. 

Here again the groups were divided on whether this would escalate the situation, but nevertheless felt that something had to be done to preserve the safety of a global sea route in the Red Sea that is vital to World Trade. The Junior session voted 63% in favour of the bombing campaign, whilst the Senior group remained evenly split with considerable concern as to recent developments coming out of Iran and growing conflict in the region. 

In the Junior Group we also briefly tackled the question of HS2 (again in the headlines) as to whether the project justified the cost?

86% voted to scrap the scheme and use the money on other much needed public services. Even those in favour worried about the cost of the scheme and whether this was the right priority for Government, nevertheless, they pointed out that major construction/infrastructure work does cost money and the question/focus should be more about the need for the project and whether it really will deliver high speed rail. 

Well done all for such focus and interesting questions and with tremendous argumentation seen in both sessions!

Lent Term Dates 2024

7th January

Junior Group (11 am) & Senior Group (4 pm)

21st January

Junior Group (11 am) & Senior Group (4 pm)

4th February

Junior Group (11 am) & Senior Group (4 pm)

18th February

Junior Group (11 am) & Senior Group (4 pm)

3rd March

Junior Group (11 am) & Senior Group (4 pm)

17th March

Junior Group (11 am) & Senior Group (4 pm)

24th March

Junior Group (11 am) & Senior Group (4 pm)

Workshops & Events

14th January

Interview Workshop & Group Debating

(Junior & Senior) (11 am)

24th February

Dr Johnson's House Museum Tour

(Junior & Senior) 11 am

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