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The Socratic Club - 6th November

As ever world events presented the Socratic club with any number of topics to discuss. It was great too to see members bringing friends along to our 'bring a friend session' - all tremendous additions to the junior and senior group sessions.

This week our focus took in COP27, the Migrant Crisis and Poppy Day. In addition, we also looked at remembrance in the context of Guy Fawkes night and whether technology is a force for good in Society? It was a fascinating discussion and set of debates across both Junior and Senior groups.

It was particularly pleasing to see our students incorporating key debating skills worked on this term, from evidence, to stories, rhetorical questions and clearly referenced and pointed summaries. We also saw a very large number of POIs. Well done all!

The Junior and Senior Groups both voted unanimously that we should still remember Guy Fawkes Night. Arguments included the importance of history, and the fun that the celebration gathered people together even if the original meaning has been lost. Few felt that the religious (original) context was a key component today.

Should the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attend COP27?

Vote 1

Y: 100%

N: 0%

Vote 2

Y: 50%

N: 50%

In the second motion, the Junior group moved from a unanimous vote in favour of the PM attending, to a split vote, based on the climate impact of flying, and the alternatives of a zoom or video conference meeting. It was also felt that the PM should be focussing on the cost of living crisis and UK issues. The Senior Group maintained a 100% vote in favour (at both tellings) for the PM attending the conference. Rishi Sunak had been to COP26, he represents the UK and should be at global conferences. Some in both groups also considered whether King Charles III should attend.

With the ongoing migrant crisis, our group split on different solutions, we asked:

'How should we stop the small boats crossing the channel?'

1. Work with the French: 33%

2. Pay other EU countries: 17%

3. Use the Royal Navy: 33%

4. Process Migrant/Asylum applications more quickly: 17%

The split nature of the vote showed just what a complex situation it is and how there is no obvious easy solution. The Home Secretary came in for considerable criticism, whilst it was also pointed out that the problem is not a new one.

In the major Senior Group debate, we turned to Poppy Day.

The motion, 'Should the symbol of the Red Poppy be changed?'

We looked at historical context, the British Legion, fundraising for charities for soldiers, remembering animals and those from different ethnic backgrounds that paid the ultimate sacrifice, and how to remember if one is a pacifist. White poppies, Purple poppies, and the green wreath for Irish soldiers who fought for the British were all referenced.

In the first vote, the group overwhelmingly (by Y: 83%) supported the existing system. In the second, it moved to an even balance (Vote 2: 50%/50%), with active listening and arguments for a biodegradable poppy and the addition of alternatives playing heavily on the voting record.

Well done all for such excellent contributions! We much look forward to the next set of debates.

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