Secondary English Debate Club

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    • 00:07

      [Secondary English Debate Club]

    • 00:11

      STEPHEN BROWN: I run a debating club which meets regularlyin order to prepare teams for national competitionsin debating.This is the beginning of a process which wouldtake probably several sessions.

    • 00:31

      STEPHEN BROWN [continued]: For this evening, what we're hoping to dois to begin our preparations for arguments towards that motion.The motion is, "a non-elected head of stateshould have no place in 21st century Britain."You've got the fact that it demands

    • 00:53

      STEPHEN BROWN [continued]: cross-curricular skills, that the motion today will involvehistory, politics, law, so they are arguing all of themat some point, thinking about and consideringissues which demand more than their subject base.I started debate club, really, as a new venture.

    • 01:14

      STEPHEN BROWN [continued]: I think we received some kind of publicityfrom debating masses about a competition they were settingup, and the rules and nature of the debate,and the topics of the debate, rather sparked my interest.And I set it up, and didn't know whether itwas going to be viable.But since that time-- it was probably about eight years,nine years ago now-- we've managed

    • 01:36

      STEPHEN BROWN [continued]: to have debate teams for each year, and every year.OK.Welcome.What I'm hoping we get done todayis a little way along in the process of preparingthis motion as if we were going to present itin a competitive arena.

    • 01:58

      STEPHEN BROWN [continued]: I want us to get an initial first reactions to this motion,and begin to think of those strongestarguments for the motion.And remember, for the motion is against the monarchy,the continuation of the monarchy.And some of those arguments against,

    • 02:20

      STEPHEN BROWN [continued]: but in a kind of general, first-impression type way.OK.So the motion is, "an unelected head of stateshould have no place in a 21st century Britain."What kind of arguments can you imaginebeing made for the discontinuationof the monarchy?

    • 02:40

      SPEAKER 1: Undemocratic.

    • 02:42

      STEPHEN BROWN: Sorry?

    • 02:43

      SPEAKER 1: It's undemocratic.

    • 02:44

      STEPHEN BROWN: Undemocratic.Nobody elects the queen.

    • 02:53

      SPEAKER 2: Members of royalty could use their positionto campaign whatever cause they want.

    • 02:57

      STEPHEN BROWN: Just recently, therehad been discussion in the newspapers of Prince Charles'interest in particular causes.And after all, he has direct accessto politicians who have power.Yeah?Go ahead.

    • 03:11

      SPEAKER 3: It's a reminder of timesthat were just, essentially, not legitimate,but medieval systems.

    • 03:17

      STEPHEN BROWN: It's out of date?

    • 03:18

      SPEAKER 3: Yeah.

    • 03:20

      STEPHEN BROWN: Let's go to the other side.Arguments against the motion, for the continuationof the monarchy.What arguments might be over on this side?

    • 03:31

      SPEAKER 4: The monarchy brings in tourists.

    • 03:33

      STEPHEN BROWN: OK.Yeah.Precisely.That actually, the country in effectprofits by their presence.And part of that argument is always going to be tourism.Go ahead.

    • 03:45

      SPEAKER 2: An argument that underplaysthe political influence is that they are just a harmlesstradition, and they're just figureheads thatdon't have any real influence.

    • 03:53

      SPEAKER 5: The monarchy feels like it would generallyhave longer term goals than a political party.That a political party would settlefor short-term goals on focus groupsin order to get the votes they require to be in power.

    • 04:06

      STEPHEN BROWN: Monarchy is in it for the long term.

    • 04:09

      SPEAKER 6: You can say they bringlike a strong sense of national identity and unityamongst many people.

    • 04:14

      STEPHEN BROWN: You always want to beone step ahead of the students, I think,in terms of preparation.So you know what the motion is, so onemight read some of the background material before.And certainly allow yourself to think about the motion,both for and against, because certain things

    • 04:34

      STEPHEN BROWN [continued]: will occur immediately to students,and certain things perhaps they needto be encouraged to get towards.So you do have to do a certain amount of preparation.And when you do research, there, for example,is a Daily Telegraph article about the positionof the monarchy when you have hung parliaments--

    • 04:57

      STEPHEN BROWN [continued]: which might actually crop up more often in the future.Do they have a function and a rolewithin those particular kind of constitutional issues?These are life skills.Life skills obviously inculcated by the process of preparationfor the debate, but the topics of debate

    • 05:17

      STEPHEN BROWN [continued]: also are such that they are real questionswithin the society to which they will issue out as citizens.What I want you to do is to preparean argument for the motion.You are arguing against the motion,in effect for the continuation.

    • 05:39

      STEPHEN BROWN [continued]: Think about what your core argument is going to be.Think about what research, perhaps,would back up your arguments.And get to the point of beginning to preparethat first initial statement.OK?[INTERPOSING VOICES]I feel a whole range of skills-- I hope-- are being picked up.One is discussion and debate within their teams,

    • 06:04

      STEPHEN BROWN [continued]: because each individual will be comingat a different direction.

    • 06:06

      SPEAKER 7: That was my point.

    • 06:08

      STEPHEN BROWN: The other is to beginto be able to unpack claims.I want to make this argument-- well,in order to make this argument, what does that depend upon?What do you stand in need of having to prove?I think being able to understand the arguments

    • 06:30

      STEPHEN BROWN [continued]: on the other side, to be able to foretell and predict themat this level, and I've divided themup into groups arbitrarily.There will be students who are in fact havingto construct arguments for a position, perhaps,they themselves do not-- at least currently-- believe.And in that aspect, it is like a barrister working up a brief.

    • 06:54

      STEPHEN BROWN [continued]: The contract is to make the best arguments possible,to realize that there are arguments which can be made,and arguments which perhaps you have to ditch,because you cannot maintain them.

    • 07:05

      SPEAKER 8: The strongest argumentswould be in terms of their--

    • 07:10

      STEPHEN BROWN: Now comes the hard part.They've got to actually begin to choose whicharguments they're going to make, and beginto flesh out those arguments.Because none of those arguments yet are-- they'rejust hand waving.And in the course of that, they'regoing to make various choices.They've got to choose strategically.

    • 07:31

      STEPHEN BROWN [continued]: Not all those points necessarily go here together.They've got to be able to back them up.Certainly when in competition, those pointswould be questioned, so they needto be sure of their facts and figures.A good team would be researching not only in the obvious areas,but some of those areas which stand behind.

    • 07:54

      STEPHEN BROWN [continued]: And the good team would also be lookingfor those things which aren't provided easilyto the other team.Because of course, both teams will havebeen using the same booklet.Both teams will have the same links.The real trick is to find some argument left field whichyou know a lot about, which the other team are not expecting.

    • 08:19

      STEPHEN BROWN [continued]: What I've done, I've just asked themto begin to draft their opening statement, something writtenand formally read out to mark the beginning of a debate.[INTERPOSING VOICES]OK.Just really, as a way of closing this particular session,what the two groups are going to do

    • 08:39

      STEPHEN BROWN [continued]: is present their opening statements.A first draft.Just as a way of kind of closing wherewe've got to over the course of this session.As is traditional, the opening statementis always made by the side arguing for the motion.

    • 09:02

      STEPHEN BROWN [continued]: OK?So are you going to present it, Gareth?

    • 09:04

      SPEAKER 2: I will present it, yes.

    • 09:06

      STEPHEN BROWN: OK.All right.

    • 09:07

      SPEAKER 2: Shall I begin?

    • 09:08

      STEPHEN BROWN: Please do.

    • 09:09

      SPEAKER 2: In Britain, our current societyworks in a way that no matter how mucheffort you put in your life, or how muchyou earn in your career, there will alwaysbe a group of people who are superior to youdue to the nature of their birth.Some people say that royalty is nothingbut a harmless tradition, a remnant of our rich history.However, the monarchy was created through conflictand bloodshed, and some would say theyare no less harmless today.

    • 09:30

      STEPHEN BROWN: And the answering statement for the against?

    • 09:34

      SPEAKER 8: OK.So today, in 2014, the royal family realisticallyhas less or to no formal political and legislativepower.So while the queen still has a ceremonial rolein signing into law parliamentary billsthrough royal assent, the monarchhas no choice in the matter.

    • 09:51

      STEPHEN BROWN: I think you've moved quite a way along.Obviously, if we were to go on, what we do is begin to roadtest those statements.Those statements are your opening positions,and I think what we would then do is kind of unpackthose arguments again.But in space of an hour and a quarter,

    • 10:12

      STEPHEN BROWN [continued]: in effect, we've moved quite a significant wayalong to having two fairly clearly established positions.And OK, well done.Because I think this has been a good session.OK, thank you.I think there is an experience which you encounter, that you

    • 10:33

      STEPHEN BROWN [continued]: have some students who come along tentativelyto a debate club, and then they discover that they enjoy it.They discover that they enjoy the challenge of it.They discover that they can-- because theywant to win-- engage with what is

    • 10:55

      STEPHEN BROWN [continued]: complex intellectual argument.And they discover that they're good at it.They get a kind of buzz from it.And that, I think, has a huge spilloverto all their subjects, and to all their studies.To discover, for the first time, that actually, you're not just

    • 11:16

      STEPHEN BROWN [continued]: simply learning this, but you are engaged with it,that it matters, and that it is usable to get a view on life,I think to some students is a discovery whichhas implications for how they carry themselvesto all that they study as part of their formal and academic

    • 11:38

      STEPHEN BROWN [continued]: qualifications.As a teacher, when you see that, and when you see that growth,and when you see that growth and engagementand intellectual confidence-- and moregeneral self-confidence-- it's tremendous.

Secondary English Debate Club

View Segments Segment :


In this documentary, Stephen Brown an English Coordinator at the Hove Park School, discusses student debate and the long-lasting growth, engagement, and intellectual confidence it can instill in students. By using cross-curricular skills students stay engaged and use their knowledge to create a reputable opening argument and closing argument.

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Secondary English Debate Club

In this documentary, Stephen Brown an English Coordinator at the Hove Park School, discusses student debate and the long-lasting growth, engagement, and intellectual confidence it can instill in students. By using cross-curricular skills students stay engaged and use their knowledge to create a reputable opening argument and closing argument.

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