Last week I was a judge for the national finals of the nationwide UK debating competition for sixth formers, Debating Matters. I took part in the John Redwood Debating Competition while at Maiden Erlegh School as well as being involved at university and really feel as if debating helps you clarify your thoughts and see the other side of the argument. Empathy and understanding the counter-argument is key in politics, business and all aspects of life so getting young people debating for the counter argument is eye-opening.
Varied topics were debated such as whether voting should be mandatory, should physician-assisted dying be legalised, whether we have a right to expect privacy in the internet age and if we have no claim to take offence.
The young people thought well on their feet to some difficult questions and appeared relaxed on the British Library’s lecture hall stage.
It made me quite jealous of the young people as apart from John Redwood’s competition we didn’t have any clubs to promote debating or critiquing difficult issues outside of the classroom. I think inviting young people’s views to be heard on difficult issues is incredibly valuable and I hope as many Berkshire schools as possible take part in next year’s Debating Matters!