Project: Debate 21
The project, Debate 21, aims to educate high-school students on methods of researching credible information, constructing logical arguments, and distinguishing fact from opinion. The tradition of competitive debating goes all the way back to university societies of the 18th century. It is an educational method based on alternating speeches of participants (debaters), who argue for and against a pre-set thesis. Even though a debate can take many different forms, the basic format is always the same – alternating speeches of two or more speakers who are trying to convince the audience that their views on the issue have greater merit. The personal opinion of the speaker is irrelevant to what they are saying in the debate. The speaker often has to take a stand that they do not agree with and they just have to concentrate on their role in the debate. This rule is one of the fundamental concepts of competitive debating, teaching participants to think about problems from multiple and competing perspectives.
Project Debate 21 aims to teach students of secondary schools the importance of these soft skills – forming arguments, working with information and exercising critical thinking – through debating workshops. Our second goal is the long-term collaboration with students and schools on the development of deliberative activities, training students in the art of expressing their opinions and enabling them to discuss more complex topics. We aim to bring attention to themes that are relevant to pre-voters. As such, we discuss topics including: Should the voting age be lowered? Should electronic vote be introduced?
Debate 21 will be implemented in high schools across the Czech Republic throughout 2018. For more information, please contact the project coordinator.