From Hilary Benn’s impassioned speech on Syria to Frost-Nixon, the clash of minds in the form of debating is a skill of high value that can often be at the fore-front of academia and current affairs. Without debating, ideas on how to reduce the world’s emissions, run the countries and establish world peace, for example, would not receive the platform they deserve. Debating allows ideas to be created, challenged and developed. Thus, a group of sixth formers – oblivious to the prestige and challenge of debating – began a debating society for the school.
Originally, the group met once a week to discuss modern issues – such as feminism – and more importantly, debate. The style of debate was that of British parliamentary. This sets forward a motion in the form of This House Would and then requires a proposition and opposition to debate the idea on its merits and come to a conclusion on which side was the most persuasive – although it often ended in an agree to disagree scenario. The group, had a range of debates from ‘This house would ban the use of GM crops’, to ‘This house would ban Donald Trump from the UK’ and even included a Christmas special of ‘This house would retire Father Christmas’. The debates allowed each side to throw up new ideas and introduce one another to concepts they wouldn’t have previously considered.
The students themselves, found the exercise a wholly beneficial one. The society helped them in developing their skills of public speaking, critical thinking and persuasion; moreover, the society has proved a great help to their confidence. Hence, upon the back of this groups successes, the debate society has opened up to the years of 10 and 11. Headed by the sixth formers and a small group of teachers, the society aims to help those in these years develop their own public speaking skills and help them consider the world in which we live. The society is the perfect platform for the discussion of ideas to do with current affairs, philosophy or the ethics of science, for example, and those who attend feel it has allowed them to consider issues from a more objective perspective than previously.