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Debate-Ed Mentor Training

On 8 September, eight local sixth formers attended the Lanyon Bowdler Shrewsbury office for training on the Debate-Ed programme which is due to launch, today, Friday 18 September.

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The Debate-Ed programme is a new initiative which is sponsored by Lanyon Bowdler and will be bringing debating to local secondary schools in Shrewsbury. The sixth form students will become mentors at the schools and run exciting and engaging work shops for the students which will develop their analytical and speaking skills.

We believe that debating is important as it teaches the students essential persuasive techniques which can be applied in their academic studies and throughout their future careers. Throughout every walk of life, the ability to understand a topic and express yourself eloquently is always useful. During the Debate-Ed programme, the students will get to explore a variety of interesting topics such as whether footballers who have been convicted of serious crimes should be prevented from playing professional football and whether plastic surgery should be banned.

Learning the Rules

The mentors will need to get grips with the rules that govern formal debates and will teach the students to debate using the British Parliamentary Style which is used at all British university competitions, European Competitions and the Worlds competition. Once they have understood the rules, the emphasis will be on helping the students to develop well-reasoned and well-explained arguments on a whole variety of topics.

One of the principle ways they will do this is using PEEL (Point, Example, Explain and Link). This means that when a student makes a point they will be expected to back it up with an example or some evidence, fully explain their point and then link it with the overall debate or discussion so that everyone understands why the point is relevant and important. This is a very helpful way to structure arguments and is useful not just for debating, but also for exams.

Learning by Doing

The programme is designed to help both the mentors and students develop their skills by giving them continual opportunities to practice and challenge themselves. The mentors will learn how to teach by being given the opportunity to lead a group of students. The students will learn how to debate by being the opportunity to engage in a number of fun games and activities which involve speaking and reasoning.

For instance one of the games presents the students with a statement and asks whether they agree or disagree. This can be on topics ranging from forcing obese people to pay for their medical care to lowering the voting age to 16. The students are asked to explain why they agree or disagree, and helped by the mentors, to develop their answers into well-reasoned and full arguments.

Another activity is Rebuttal Alley where the students are lined up opposite each other and given a topic to debate. The emphasis here is on listening to the argument of the previous speaker and trying to counter their argument. This teaches key analytical skills and helps to develop the students’ speaking skills and overall confidence.

Overall, the Debate-Ed programme promises to be a fun and engaging course which will benefit both the mentors and students, and we at Lanyon Bowdler are proud to be supporting the education and development of the next generation.