A moot point

Ratna Rao

Debate is a powerful strategy for students to develop a range of skills. It can develop an awareness and understanding of pertinent questions in the world around them. It can help enhance speaking and listening in the primary sections, but can go beyond these skills and develop logical, analytical, and critical thinking skills as well. Debates are useful assessment tools to gain insight into students’ understanding of a topic. Other than these implicit skills, many other explicit skills can be taught to students like brainstorming followed by organizing of thoughts, ideas.

Brainstorming: This is one of the most important skills necessary for generating ideas. It can be done individually or in groups.

Group brainstorming
Divide the class into groups. Announce the topic/write it on the board.

  • In each group select a leader.
  • Let each group discuss and write down their ideas on a sheet. At this point emphasize that no idea should be discarded or made fun of and no idea is correct or incorrect.
  • Let the group leader come forward and stick/paste

Individual brainstorming
a) Give students time to think.
b) Ask them to put all their thoughts, however childish or mundane, on paper.
c) Guide them to organize/prioritize these ideas.

inner-outer-circle-strategy

Organizing ideas

  1. Write the numbers one to ten on the board.
  2. Let the students look at all the ideas and delete ideas that are not related or are too vague.
  3. Put similar ideas together.
  4. Then rank the ideas according to their importance and relevance.
  5. Then ask the students to give an evidence/example of each point listed.
  6. One group can pick up one point and give as many evidences/examples as possible. This will help students organize ideas and build evidences and arguments in favour of their points.

Make it clear that no interruptions are allowed when a student is giving his/her ideas and that everyone’s ideas should be respected.

There are many ways of debating that can be taken up in bigger classrooms to give every student a chance to express his/her opinions.

The author is a teacher educator at Calorx Teachers’ University, Ahmedabad. She can be reached at ratnarao25@gmail.com.

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