Debate Academy experience savoured by Perse students

Rebecca Li and Alina Turchyn (both Lower Sixth) reflect on taking part in the English-Speaking Union’s Debate Academy this summer.

In one word, it was incredible. For one week in August, students with a passion for debating and public speaking came together to improve their oracy under the guidance of experienced mentors.

The week was filled with masterclasses in techniques and creation of persuasive and robust arguments from world-class debaters and judges.

We also benefited from the holistic development of critical thinking through chosen electives in the evenings, which ranged from the political history of Iraq and the conflict in the Middle East to quantum physics and the theory of relativity.

The six days provided eight practice debates in arrange of formats, such as Mace, British Parliamentary and World Schools, allowing for personalised feedback from the judges, which we found incredibly useful.

There were also interesting classes and discussions aimed at everything from the basics of mechanising a motion to advanced argumentation.

Students were split into different groups, respective of their debating experience, which helped to foster a friendly competitive environment in which everyone thrived.

Furthermore, two show debates presented by the mentors allowed us to gain experience in judging and scoring.

To top it off, there was also time for a wide range of social activities, including evening walks, board game nights and watching the Love Island finale!

Alina: I found the entire experience incredibly influential through improving my debating skills and critical thinking.

I would strongly recommend going to Debate Academy to any debater at any level. Not only did it provide a lively environment of debating, analysing and dissecting arguments to their core, but it was also filled with impressive and awesome people who shared the same passion for the art of debate.

The coaches provided exceptional feedback and were all super nice and approachable. Before, debate always held connotations of being an intense sport in which I am judged for every imperfect word or phrase, but Debate Academy was able to interweave the spirit of debate into an environment that felt fun, relaxing and never failed to provide an interesting discussion.

Rebecca: The biggest takeaway for me was how to create robust arguments through greater levels of critical thinking.

This was not just done through the lessons with led by our mentors, but also through the people that attended the camp with us.

The diversity of the campers’ thoughts and experiences allowed me to gain a deeper insight into other people’s lives and made me a more holistic debater.

This laid the foundations for interesting discussions not just in class, but also while relaxing in the common room over dinner.

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