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And they're off!

Round One of the 07/08 Concern Debates commenced last week and from all accounts things seem to have gone very well. The Concern Debates team as well as several other Concern staff were present at eight debates.

I must say, given that it was the first round we were highly impressed by the depth of research, the quality of presentation and even the worthy attempts at refutation and rebuttal. So well done to everyone who took part; it’s not easy standing up before a room of 40 people talking about a subject you perhaps knew nothing about until a week or so ago.

In chatting to the students it was great to hear how much everyone seemed to have enjoyed their first debate. One of them told me “when it came to my turn, my brain went blank, my mouth went dry and my knees started banging like a pair of castanets…I was a mess, but once I got up there and started to talk and I saw how everyone was listening, it felt great!”  Others said they thought that researching was going to be difficult, but that they were pleasantly surprised to find a ton of stuff on the internet and in magazines and books.

We also talked to teachers, adjudicators and audience members, and as you might expect from a group of debate supporters, everyone had a lot to say. An adjudicator I spoke to wanted to give some advice to those of you who have made it into Round Two: “A crucial part of debating is about persuasion; it is not enough just to tell the audience facts, you must persuade them that your side of the argument is the right one”. One of the teachers, who shall remain nameless, said “I was really nervous for them before the debate, but I can’t tell you how proud I am of them now”.

Concern staff member Joanna Rea said “I thought everything went really well tonight, I liked to see the motion on the board, the posters on the walls, a good crowd of 60 people, a good debate, and a great buzz afterwards over a cup of tea.”

So keep up the good work everyone…I look forward to talking to you again in Round Two.