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The Socratic Club - 5th September

Junior Socratic Club

The first meeting of the new academic year saw us focus on key skills:

- Active Listening

- Clear Argumentation

- Evidence based points

- Teamwork

Having reviewed our aims for the term, we turned to two significant headline topics:

(i) On the basis of the recent Olympics and Paralympics we asked:

The Motion: 'Are there too many Olympic sports?'

Vote 1 - Y: 0%; N: 100%

Vote 2 - Y: 0%; N: 100%

We discussed the ancient Greek origins of the Olympics and how the widening of the sports had created a truly global competition. Proposition arguments ranged from there being too many sports and thus the Olympics running on too long, with the risk of losing interest, whilst others also felt that key sports such as cricket were not included. The Olympic Authority was also criticized for not hosting the Olympics on the African continent and it was questioned whether the games really did contribute to world peace. Yet, with all the cynicism, the motion was carried unanimously at both 'tellings' and the group felt strongly that the Olympics and Paralympics were key events in the life of the world and widening sporting participation.

(ii) With a fresh report out on conservation in fishing we debated whether there should continue to be limits on worldwide fishing?

The Motion: 'Should we control fishing numbers?'

Vote 1 - Y: 100%; N: 0%

Vote 2 - Y: 75%; N: 25%

This was a great debate that looked at Japan, Iceland and Norway and their differing approach to the rest of the world on Whaling. The debate also touched on jobs and the fishing industry, but ultimately it was felt that quotas were successful and essential for the long-term survival of fishing stocks and the wider environment. Farmed fishing was not necessarily seen as a sustainable alternative - we will debate this in detail in the future.

We closed the session with a newsround from each participant - giving them a chance to raise topics of close interest. We will continue with this throughout the term.

Senior Socratic Club

The senior session also began with a recapitulation of key skills learnt last year and those we would focus on for this coming academic year, from active listening, to succinct argumentation, team-work and arguments supported by evidence.

We then moved to the topic of Afghanistan, wondering whether this was a Presidential mistake?

(i) The Motion: 'This House would not have left Afghanistan'

Vote 1 - Yes: 67%; No: 33%

Vote 2 - Yes: 67%; No: 33%

The Afghanistan debate saw our speakers draw parallels with Vietnam; raise concerns over American foreign policy and Joe Biden's decision making ability; bring up Tony Blair's leadership and 'remarkable' criticism of this decision; assess America's military capability and what this move might mean for Taiwan and other countries dependent on the umbrella defence of the USA; and finally address Women's rights and education that have been eroded overnight by the Taliban and a move that sees Afghanistan go back twenty years in just a matter of months. It was a wide-ranging and fascinating debate. Some felt that Biden had little option but to withdraw and that Afghanistan was no longer a strategic location; whilst others heavily criticized the notion of Biden's 'Forever War' - this topic will doubtless be a debate for later in the year and the question of whether the West can ever intervene again - at least in the short turn.

Equally prescient the club then turned to the topic of Social Care. How topical both these debates proved to be. The Taliban have now formed a Government and the UK Government has just this week announced a new tax to fund social care.

(ii) The Motion: 'This House thinks Social Care should be paid for with higher taxes'

Vote 1 - Y: 100%; N: 0%

Vote 2 - Y: 67%; N: 33%

The debate divided between those seeing little but taxation as a means to solve the funding gap - to those that saw yet another tax that would be poorly spent and badly directed. It was nevertheless, unanimously felt that there was a problem - the questions were how to deal with it and who should pay directly?

A lack of social care/welfare system in some countries in the world was also shown as an example of how difficult situations can be without proper funding.

In the end the eyes had it and the motion was passed with a small shift against in the second vote. Will support for this motion last following the PMs announcements - we shall see ...

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