CyberFest 2023: Debating still matters

Thursday 28 September 2023

The art of debate involves mastering skills of obvious intrinsic value: the confidence to speak in public and make sense; the construction of a logical argument; the ability to read an audience’s reactions; and, perhaps most importantly, the willingness to hear others’ arguments, and to respond to them. 

The ability to see the other side is particularly important.  We can – and indeed, we should – use our own right to free speech to challenge expression we think is unpleasant or wrong.  To do this we need to be equipped to argue in public.  Debating competitions are a fantastic way to teach this important skill to young people.

This week’s inter-school debate, part of the #CyberFest2023 calendar of events, with sixth-form students from Emmanuel College, Gateshead, Framwellgate School Durham, Royal Grammar School Newcastle, and Dame Allan’s Schools Newcastle, demonstrates that we are not just about exam results and rote learning; we’re about teaching wider life skills.  The ability to speak well is something that’s useful throughout the employment process.

Debating in schools seems to teach you things unlearnable in other ways: not only how to construct an argument, but how its success depends more than anything on the form of its expression.  It teaches you to think on your feet.  Plus, public speaking is rather nerve-racking!

There are several people to thank for making this possible: i) Gary Fawcett for kindly sponsoring the event and joining the judging panel; ii) Caroline Theobald CBE FRSA for your boundless energy, enthusiasm, and compering skills; iii) Nik Kelsey for opening the event; iv) Phil Jackman for including the event in the #CyberFest2023 calendar; and v) Infosec Advisory Group for their closing remarks regarding Newcastle’s flourishing tech sector.

Congratulations to the staff and students who came together to make this a showcase event for local talent.  Congratulations to the team from Dame Allan’s who secured the winning trophy.  We look forward to seeing you all at the next event!