The Perse School

The Battle of Ideas Festival

5 Nov 2013

Last month, Year 10 pupil, Bella Forster-Lewis, attended the Battle of Ideas event in London, a trip which was organised through debating and public speaking connections in the English and Drama department. Below, Bella shares her thoughts on the event:

“London bound, my mother and I travelled to the Barbican.  We were en route to the well-known Battle of Ideas Festival.  The London event was the largest one of an international series – some being held as far afield as New York and the Czech Republic.

We struggled to choose which of the many interesting talks to attend, finally settling for ‘From 9/11 to Nairobi: understanding modern terrorism’. A fascinating discussion took place between the panel members whose backgrounds included a Professor of Conflict Analysis to a writer and Middle East Commentator.  Questions were then open to the floor.  This is when the diverse nature of the audience really kicked in.

A quick coffee, then off to ‘State Versus Market’ panelled by those with monetary know-how from analysts to professors and authors.  ‘Law and our Private Lives an Abusive Relationship’ gave real food for thought, panelled by a social worker, barrister, lawyer, woman who manages a home for victims of domestic abuse and an academic.

Lunch gave us a chance to digest what we had heard so far. We both agreed that we could probably only manage one more talk, before our brains gave up!  We chose ‘ Suicide: the Ultimate Selfish Act’. The Chief Executive of SANE, an MRC Research Fellow, Professor of Psychology,  and a sociologist and cultural commentator showed how there is no clear answers to this question.  Audience participation became quite heated during this debate, with many participants speaking from personal experience.

The journey home was a chance to gather our thoughts, and think about all we had heard.  Our conclusion? However strongly we feel about something, there is always and alternative and compelling argument to consider before judgement is passed.

This was a day to remember. We both still find ourselves reflecting on some of the discussions, thinking in retrospect of points we could have made.  We are very much looking forward to attending again next year.”

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