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Week Six - Human Rights

Last week saw the students getting to grips with the basics of Human Rights, along with utilitarianism and social contracts. The students were able to engage in debates based on real case law regarding IVF and the implantation of fertilised eggs, as well as finishing up the session with a longer debate on whether the torture of terrorist suspects would ever be acceptable or even desirable. These were some extremely complex topics, but students tackled them bravely and were able to express and develop their ideas confidently and coherently throughout the session.

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Definitions were the order of the day with the controversial motion “This House Would Allow Police to Torture Terrorist Suspects” and the students spent time defining what they would mean by “terrorist suspect” for the purposes of this debate as well as “torture”. Four students from each team then led the debate with other students offering points of information – all of which were taken – which made for a hotly contested and fascinating debate.

Skilled at debating

It is easy to see the benefit Debate-Ed has been having, and how quickly the students are becoming skilled debaters. The students who were brave enough to volunteer to get up and speak were eloquent and made their points compellingly, clearly, and convincingly, and, during discussions, engagement with the difficult topics and complex issues thrown up remained high throughout. Students were able to form complex and persuasive arguments, not only by coming up with their own points but by anticipating what points the other team may make, and how they could be replied to. Everyone was engaged and all were able to make perceptive and sophisticated connections and observations, with the issues raised both in preparation for the debate and by thinking on their feet during the actual debate in their engagement and replies with the opposing points.

Just six weeks in, it is clear that the final formal debate in 2016 will be a lively event!