“Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.”
[Address at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton, Johannesburg, South Africa, 23 November 2004]
In today’s world, technology has not only brought us closer but has also provided a medium for many of us to indulge in acquiring knowledge. As humans, we use various mediums to gain knowledge, be educated and feel empowered. In the case of our students, this enhanced knowledge also boosts their confidence to voice their opinions, a skill we aim to empower all our students with. Students at B.D. Somani have always been good speakers but it is still necessary to provide them a platform to use these speaking skills.
Over the past year, with pandemic-enforced distance learning, our students have been busy with online classes and haven’t had the opportunity to interact with students across grade levels. And yes, they do miss our school corridors too. Members of our Junior Student Council used this opportunity to conduct an inter-grade virtual debate competition for Grades 6 to 8.
Dubbed Battle Of The Minds, this online debate competition was a unique experience for all of us. To ensure our students got to interact with students from other grades too, the debate groups were a combination of different grade levels. It took a lot of coordination and planning to ensure everything went off smoothly, making the event a great success.
When we sought students’ participation for the debate, the response was so overwhelming, we actually conducted four simultaneous debates. We brainstormed a lot on the topics for the debates, considering elements from various fields including current events and politics and technology. However, we were clear early on that the chosen topics should be relatable for students in their present scenarios. The final list of topics we decided on were all themed around education.
- Is competition a necessary part of students’ education?
- Is online learning the future of the education system?
- Does a child learn more outside the classroom than inside the classroom?
- Can artificial intelligence replace the human intelligence?
The main objective of being a part of the debate is to convey yourself in a concise way so that people around you understand your point of view and your thought process, but it should be done using convincing and effective logic. And yes, from the manner in which our students expressed themselves, it was evident they had practised their speaking spells as much as they had researched their chosen topics. The team coordination during the online debates too was spot on. All speakers spoke with sound facts and figures and presented their viewpoints with confidence. The audience and judges were in awe of these young minds challenging each other with equal confidence on all positions.
Here is what our student council members have to say about the experience.
The debate was an exquisite experience. Learning new things help you explore different fields. Battle Of The Minds helped students to form their thoughts and express them vocally. We feel the debate was the perfect event for the student body to nurture their oral and argumentative skills. The whole event functioned in a way to help students build confidence and enjoy the art of verbal debate.
The debate was one of its kind and gave a new insight to an event. We learnt what it takes to bring up the event, the amount of coordination, planning and other experiences as well. Battle Of The Minds was an event that helped students develop the skill of debating and public speaking. This debate came with a whole lot of challenges. With the event being online-only, we had to do a lot of planning from that perspective as well. This debate has not been a new experience for students and also for us in the organising committee.
The debate Battle Of The Minds was extremely interesting because it was different from anything we have taken part in before or even organised. It was a great example of what teamwork can achieve. The planning process was new to us all but we were able to pull it off well. We had very enthusiastic participation and I think the event was a big success. It was new for all the students – but they did an extraordinary job! I hope our other events get a similar response and are enjoyed as much. I hope it can become a regular annual event at B.D. Somani. Also a big shout out to all the teachers who helped make this event a success.
The debate Battle Of The Minds went so smoothly. If I am being honest with you I was very sceptical about how a debate would take place online but with the support of the judges, the Junior Student Council and the students, it all went through very well. There were few first time debaters, but I really couldn’t tell if they were because all of them spoke so well. I think this event was different to what we would normally plan but it was a success and I really got to see some really good speakers.
This post has been authored by Ms. Anjali Jadhav, Teacher in charge, Junior Student Council.