Debating Matters

Listed on February 28, 2014 in Blogs!

Yesterday, I was a judge in the Debating Matters competition organised by the Institute of Ideas. This is a national competition for young people that really tests their debating skills. Not only they do they have to have an in-depth grasp of the subject and be able to argue their points, they are must also defend their position from questions by a panel of judges and by members of an audience – most of whom are drawn from opposing teams. It is truly astonishing what these young people can do. (I hope that doesn’t sound too patronising.) The mental dexterity and stamina was terrific. The winner of the Southern Region final yesterday was Park House School, Newbury. They are a state school with academy status doing really well and their win was very well deserved.

The competition was held in Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park. The Lodge is a former royal residence now in use as a residential educational centre for the university sector as well as a conference centre of some distinction. Many of their events are originated to discuss and debate the great ethical and moral issues of our time. In some ways, I thought of them as an elder cousin to Dillington. Like us they were founded in the late 1940s as the country was trying to get back on its feet. Do have a look at their website to see what they do. All of this just goes to show that ideas matter and that we should never think they are unimportant. Critical thinking and debate needs to be at the centre of our society as we try to negotiate the ever changing social and economic landscape of our times.