A Matter of Debate
Earlier this year Richmond College won the Debating Matters regional competition at
St Mary’s University in Twickenham.
It was a hard-won victory for the students since preparation and talent were not in short supply among youngsters from schools all over
this part of the Home Counties.
Yet this significant and positive event has a value beyond winning on the day.
Organised by the Institute of Ideas in 2002, Debating Matters, also has the undeniable, collateral benefit of preparing school leavers for their job searches and students ploughing their way through the graduate placement schemes because critical thinking is an essential part of clear decision making.
Director of the Institute, Claire Fox, says, “Debating Matters is an antidote to echo chambers, encouraging young people to develop skills that allow them to make well-informed arguments based on research rather than closing down discussions or caricaturing opponents’ arguments.”
Being able to launch and sustain a measured argument is an important skill because it also teaches us the art of reason, and that can literally change the course of our lives, she adds.
Kasim Agpak, A level Humanities and Social Sciences lecturer, who was at the regional heat, says, “The Debating Matters competition is very important, not only does it provide a platform for current and possible future issues but also encourages critical thinking amongst young people.
“Students do not only improve their debating skills but also engage with issues that one way or another have an impact on their lives. It encourages young minds to respond to those issues with confidence.”
Shivi Rajput, Family Law specialist at solicitors, Eric Robinson, in Richmond, agrees.
“Debating helps to enhance so many skills which can be transferred into the workplace and into society in general. It allows you to build confidence in public speaking, as well as enhancing your research and analytical skills. Crucially, debating allows you to develop the ability to listen to other people’s views and respond to them accordingly.
“This is an important key skill required of contentious lawyers, who frequently have to persuade Judges in Court that their position is preferred over their opponents’, but the skills acquired from debating can be applied to almost all industries. Outside of the workplace, having the ability to formulate coherent arguments, as well as being able to think critically and make informed decisions, enables us to have a strong voice in a democratic society.”
Debating Matters is a national sixth form debating competition for students from around the UK. DM offers a fresh, accessible and engaging format for debating contemporary real-world issues, with an emphasis on substance, not just style of debating, and the importance of taking ideas seriously.
For further information about the competition, go to :
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