The oxford debate

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The Oxford Debate

A bit of history...

England is a country of debating societies, at schools and universities. The Oxford Union is the best known debating society in the University. In 1823 agroup of students of Oxford University came together and set up a society that was one of the first of its kind "having for its object the promotion of Debates and the maintenance of a Library andReading Room". The Union was a forum for discussion and debate at a time when the free exchange of ideas was a notion foreign to the restrictive Union Authorities. In fact, it was the only place forstudents to discuss political topics. Numerous debates took place with persons who became nationally and even internationally famous: Gladstone (the famous Prime Minister); later on Malcom X (1960's) who"demanded black power by ANY means"...and in the 1970's Richard Nixon in a debate after Watergate admitted "I screwed up - and paid the price"!! The Oxford Union has " managed to absorb the greatestdiversity, the most outspoken and non-conformist people". And this remains its guiding principles to this day. Let's try to obey the same principle... What's a Debate? A Debate is a structureddiscussion. Two sides speak alternately for and against a topical issue (called the Motion). Unlike the arguments you might have with family or friends, each person is allocated a time they are allowed tospeak for and any interjections are carefully controlled. It teaches you how to listen carefully and critically to what others say and structure your reply.

What are the main rules of the Debate? Asubject is chosen ( the Motion). There are two sides: the Proposition who speak in favour of the Motion and the Opposition who speak against it. A chairperson (the President) is appointed to run themeeting: (s)he introduces the subject and the two Speakers and then invites each in turn to make out

their case. The chairperson may then ask each speaker to respond to points and arguments made by...