Our Socratic club sessions this weekend saw us turn to key skills for argumentation and debating in a group setting - in light of forthcoming English argumentation exam assessments and Model United Nations. We centred on summary speaking, body language and how to present using points in an ordered manner - either in blocks of 3 or in blocks of 5, so as to maximise one's argument and to convey more easily one's points to the audience and/or judge. To work on this, we looked at a 'favourite sport' question from interviews to help show how to present in this manner. We then covered an array of current affairs topics in our discussions - from the Home Secretary and her speeding fine, to immigration, to the G7 summit and fighter jets for Ukraine. We ended with a topic inspired by the interests of our members on whether we should lower the voting age in the UK.
The Junior Group felt following the G7 summit that fighter jets were a step too far, with 86% rejecting the motion in the first telling, only falling to 75% in the second. An overwhelming sense of caution, and fear of escalation dominated the debate. That said, many were also conscious of the need to end the war as soon as possible, not least because of food supply and not wanting to face another winter with energy supply lines being so impacted. Others were also worried about depleting supplies of weapons across the West, in case of a different conflict. The Senior group voted evenly in the first telling, but also rejected the motion by 75% to 25% at the second telling. Caution again trumped all other arguments.
In our Second topic of debate on the motion: 'This House would lower the voting age' - again both Junior and Senior groups expressed a cautious approach with first tellings rejecting the motion 90% to 10% in the Junior and 75% to 25% in the Senior. Whilst this remained in the Senior group with the majority arguing strongly that there was no need to change and that the system seemed right as is, not least because the %s of 18 year olds voting were low anyway, the Junior group switched to supporting the motion by 60%/40% at the second telling. A desire to encourage participation and the old adage given VAT, and jobs from 16 onwards of 'no taxation without representation', and the problems of climate change impacting younger people more, won the day.
What a great set of debates and well done all on some superb public speaking!