It was great to catch up with familiar faces and many new members at our Debating & Interview Clubs this term. In addition, to our usual Tuesday Interview Club, we are now also running a Friday Club.
For the New Year we began across our sessions with a recapitulation of key public speaking and presentation skills (smiling more and remaining positive in an interview setting) - with particular emphasis on body language, evidence, stories and rhetorical questions. We focussed on 'Evidence' from media outlets both at home and abroad (CNN/Fox News for instance in the US with an election fast approaching) and how best to assess reliability - what to trust? How to assess bias and how to get the best possible perspective. What to look for from various news/media outlets (?) not least in an age of 'fake news' and with social media too. We encouraged students to ask questions of the information out there and to look at as wide an array of news coverage in order to provide/attain balance.
Our warm up questions have included:
(a) What are your goals/New Year's Resolutions for 2024? or/and (b) What are your hopes/aspirations for the World in 2024? - and again in each case Why? (c) If you were Prime Minister, what would be your priorities?
We have seen hugely impressive responses with a wonderful array of goals and resolutions for 2024 from greater studying focus, reading more books, swimming and football targets, helping out at home more, to being more empathetic and kind at school. In each case we have encouraged all to avoid prompting and to provide justification. For the World we had reference to tackling 'climate change', and mediating/ending 'conflict (military)', to 'more recycling' and 'ending child poverty'.
For our newsround across sessions we have covered the Post Office Scandal that remains frontpage news as the greatest miscarriage of justice in the UK's recent history. As always we encourage our members to look at newsround, The Week Junior, First News and other news sources with their families throughout the term to keep up-to-speed with current affairs. As per last term, it is great when the pupils drive the debating topics from topics they have read about and it was superb to see many in our groups well aware of the crisis with global shipping and the Red Sea/Yemen. We have looked at 'unseen' example of shipping routes to widen the discussion.
In addition, to this current affairs unseen, we have also looked at paintings and philosophical questions, for example 'does money make you happy?'
Our debates have taken in the motions:
(i) 'This House would give Reading more Lesson time'
With majority support in each of our groups, with strong argumentation for the benefits of wider reading, extending knowledge and improving vocabulary. Opposition arguments rested less on anti-reading and more on providing more time for ICT, coding and Mathematics.
A superb debate! Well done all.
(ii) 'This House supports the bombing campaign of the US, UK and allies in the Yemen against the Houthi rebels'.
Here 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.