After a second successful morning of lessons, students got the chance to learn and explore alongside those not on their chosen courses in the Insight Masterclasses yesterday afternoon. Students parsed a crime scene for incriminating details in the Forensic Investigation workshop, and those studying Engineering were able to show off their new skills in building fan-assisted cars in a practical session. Debate Mate drew a particularly large crowd, with students eager to go head to head on the issues that mattered to them most.
Debating instructor James led the students through the different stages and skills of a debate, equipping them with the weapons they would need to make a convincing argument, and respond forcefully to the arguments of others. First, students picked their own motions to debate for or against: that abortion should be legal in all countries; that Donald Trump should not be assassinated; that hunting should be legal; and that every country should have an unwritten constitution à la the United Kingdom. In the first debate in particular, students put forward impressively cogent arguments that demonstrated command of the subject matter and agile thinking. Arguments went beyond the woman’s fundamental right to choose, to a point about the legal status of a foetus: since a life is not officially recognised by the state until presented with a birth certificate upon arrival, the debaters argued, abortion during pregnancy is not at issue. Furthermore, they said, the use of foetal tissue in research has already saved the lives of millions.
Turning their attentions to rebuttals, James asked the students each in turn to finish the sentence, “If I ruled the world, I would…”. After each statement, another student within the group was to raise an objection, stating “I couldn’t disagree more”, and giving a reason. Students found inventive reasons to object to even the most worthy and harmless propositions, such as establishing equal rights for men and women, providing water to countries that need it, and giving every child access to education.
Students, some of whom had spoken in favour of hunting in Debate Mate―Madeleine from Norway spends much of her spare time stalking and shooting the Western capercaillie―came face to face with (and became rather fond of) the creatures who do the hunting in the avian world, in the Birds of Prey session after dinner. The baby owl provoked cries of delight, and students thrilled at feeling the beat of the frogmouth’s wings on their cheeks.