By Lucas Bonhomme Vazquez, EEB1, S7ENA.
Whether it be representing Bolivia at school-organised MUNs, watching Peterson vs Zizek on YouTube, a pleasant classroom discussion initiated by your teacher or sitting on your favourite couch while spooning gluten-free vanilla ice-cream while the latest political talk is on TV; the art of debating has been present in our societies in a wide variety of ways since the early days of the great Athenian public speakers. Debating has equipped us with the appropriate tools to defend our opinions and given us a sense of power and self-confidence, as well making us the defenders of democracy and its values, speaking of which have been at the foundation of our beloved European Schools.
The art of debating has also empowered students not only by equipping us with these previously mentioned social tools but also forge us to be better citizens and help us understand the world better in order to successfully become the leaders of a better world. That is why, considering our position as students of the European Schools, we should promote formal discussions on topics that concern us whether it be the environment, teachers, philosophy, the BAC, Brexit, COVID-19 or anything else, but sadly we have not exploited debating to its full potential in our institutions.
At the European School of Brussels I (EEB1), in Uccle, a student-run debate club called the Socrates Debate Society was initiated at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year. Although only one session was organised, it proved to be a success among students and even gained the attention of the director and the school staff, showing that there is still potential to unleash. Sadly, due to exams, stress and more recently COVID-19 and its consequences no more sessions were hosted. It also seems other European Schools in Brussels had similar projects running.
Given its popularity among students and for the sake of democracy and its values, it is strongly important to support these initiatives and our schools and create them where they do not exist. Following EEB1’s example, all the other European Schools could create their own debate societies and make them a success not only among the student body but also the teachers and at a national/continental level. EEB1’s Socrates Debate Society is considering hosting a debate tournament where all the European Schools of Brussels would be invited (and perhaps extending it to the rest of the EE network if the event is successful) around October this year, and that is why we should start training now.
A debate federation consisting of all the European Schools could be created and we could position ourselves high in the ladder of international school debating. This federation could also help pupils sign up for global tournaments such as the World Schools Debate Championship, where they would represent their country of residence, this is not only a fun and enjoyable experience but is also particularly interesting for students wishing to attend prestigious higher education institutions, which greatly prize these initiatives.
In conclusion, it is time for us as students to wake up and start practicing this great art of debating which has so greatly influenced our society. It is our duty as citizens to speak our mind and to protect democracy and its values.