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The Socratic Club - 4th February

This week we turned to speaking with 'Conviction' as our key public speaking and presentation skill - with particular emphasis on affirmative tone, active voice, and careful vocabulary choice. During the sessions various speakers were put on the spot to speak with 'Conviction' against their own view point. It was tremendous to see the excellent answers/responses given! 


Our warm up question asked:

What would you like to be when you are older?

We had an amazing selection of ideas given including inter alia historians, spies, archaeologists, explorers, politicians, STEM based workers, surgeons, vets, architects and lawyers.   

Our newsrounds were perhaps the best ever! The Junior Group covered almost every major headline, from the Middle East to American politics, and UK news stories. The Senior Group added to this with even more detail - well done all!

Our debating motions included:

(i) 'This House would make more hedges in England and importantly in London'. This debate arose from/out of the headline: 'England's hedges would circle the Earth ten times from end to end'.

The Junior Group voted in favour of the motion (63% for the motion). The benefits to nature and to carbon capture won the day. However, in the second telling and in our Senior Group many recognised that London was not the location for such action and would be better suited to vertical gardens and tree planting than hedges. The overall aim should be to see the rest of England expand on hedge making. 

Our second debate was on the motion:

(ii) 'This House would Walk to school'.

We provided a multiple choice poll to see how our group travels thus far:

44% walk; 22% go by bicycle; 67% by car; and 33% by tube or bus. 

Following a lively discussion on the health benefits of walking, it was felt by the groups that at least 50% of school runs should be made on foot. That said, it was also argued that for many distance, childcare costs, disability, and practicality with multiple children going to different schools and the safety of walking for children, made it impossible for now to see the figure move much higher. Time and again the safety of our streets was raised/mentioned - a big topic/pointer for those in charge of London (both politicians and police). 

Our third motion followed the Senate in the US and their questioning of major Social Media and AI companies last week, including Mark Zuckerberg. We asked who is responsible for child safety online?

Each group were presented with three options: Technology companies; Government; Family/Parents. 

In each session the majority voted for technology companies, but throughout the discussion and debate it was acknowledged that all three had their roles to play. 

We also asked: 'Are we being too negative on technology, social media and AI at present?'

Here again each group felt we were being too negative. The benefits for technology 'are there to see', but all felt that that should not stop efforts to make sure children are kept safe and everyone does more to improve safety and to enhance the positive elements. 

In the Senior session we also explored the question of a 'citizen army' following warnings by NATO's (and the UK's) chief of defence staff. The majority voted for more military spending, and many argued for a form of national service, but no one wished for this to be compulsory. 

An outstanding set of sessions! Well done all. 

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