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Debating

Recommended Week

Year 1 : Weeks 11 - 20

Originators

Henk Muller, Dan Page, Kerstin Eder

Aims

To give the students confidence in presenting a point of view and defending it.

Objectives

Task

Debate

Each student prepares a 10 minute debate on a particular topic in which they take a clear stance on a single issue. Time is left for questioning at the end. All staff/students in the group are `against' the speaker and force them to defend their point of view.

Variants

In the Neill variant, no instructions are given on how each person should think, but a prize is awarded to the speaker who finds a topic that best divides the group into two oppposed factions, `for' and `against'. Note: finding such a topic is interestingly difficult but leads to extremely lively debates.

Dan has suggested the topic of debate: "software patents are killing innovation". In Dan's variant, students should be split two teams, requested to do a good research into the area then good formulation and presentation of the argument in a 10 min talk + 10 mins for questions. Each team is instructed to sit down, talk about who is doing what and then divide up the responsibilities. It may be best if only one person writes and presents the result; researching the topic and thinking up questions for the other team may be assigned to another (for example). Since an even split in not possible in 5 persons tutor group, one student can act as a chairman who will introduce the topic with an overview of what software patents are, how they work and how they are inforced.

Kerstin mentioned that her students have always a lot fun debating the topic: "Is ignorance bliss?". Also the students may suggest the topic for debale themselves.