This is a FinnBrit Feature from the Federation of Finnish British Societies magazine.
This House Believes by AiraRanta
‘This house believes that debating is the best thing you can get from high school.’
Boy, had I known where those English classes in high school would take me! In the beginning, I hesitated to take part in debating activities, but now I’m forever grateful for the encouragement of my high school teachers.
Firstly, tools from debating improve your studying techniques. They provide the means to deal with a variety of complicated subjects, find various perspectives, and write or talk about them logically. Many have said that taking part in one single debate has changed their way of thinking, making it more critical, quick and diverse. We debaters have realised that we often automatically start to cover issues as widely as possible and bring missing arguments to the table – whether we personally think so or not.
(You can ask my friends whether they find this a useful skill or not).
‘My debating experience has opened doors at university.’
Secondly, my debating experience has opened some special doors at university, too. I study administrative science and, due to a professor excited about debating, I immediately got to research how debating fits into the political- administrative field. In my bachelor’s thesis, I studied what systematical debating is and how it could be used to make decision-making more efficient. While doing this, I’ve had interesting chances to cooperate with both our university staff and some politicians.
I definitely think that open debate is the key to real democracy and the foundation for quality dialogue – when participants are able to see and admit that nothing is black and white, and grounds for almost any statement can be found. There’s an increasing demand for knowledge of debating in many fields and it has become hip in public discussion. So not only is it useful, it is in fashion, too.
However, the salt in this whole thing for me is to be part of a community of debaters and have fun with amazing people. In high school, I got to go to Idea Youth Forums in Istanbul and the Netherlands, where we practised debating with young students from over thirty different countries. I’d say that those experiences are the reason I’m still so into this and have continued after high school. Getting to see debates from judges’ and coaches’ points of view has only made the hunger grow. I’ve been mesmerised by the current performances and enthusiasm of our debating high schools.
‘I think that open debate is the key to real democracy.’
Growing into the identity of a debater doesn’t really make life more simple, quite the contrary. But it does add a little confidence to confront all those complex issues in the world, everyday life and growing up.
(And sometimes, it can even solve the problems of those previously mentioned friends).
‘The survival skills you need today are to know how to think and talk.’
In my opinion, the survival skills you need today are to know how to think and talk. After you survive a furious debate about abolishing the ED, not many conversations feel so frightening anymore.
To conclude, ladies and gentlemen, is there more you can ask from a hobby and a high school activity than for it to give you the tools to deal with a wide range of life issues, to give you friends all around the globe, and to maybe help you write slightly better English essays?
For all these reasons, I want to do my best to help encourage high schools to take up debating and develop in it.
I urge you to propose the motion.