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Schools loud of debate

10 schools, 170 educators, 40 days of debate, 1200 students – the participants of the Have your say! Program. There will be no shortage of exciting debates in schools in the coming academic year.

’It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it’ --Joseph Joubert

Nothing could describe the Have your say! Program better than Joseph Joubert’s sentence: we don’t necessarily have to agree but it’s better to discuss this disagreement than not to. However it doesn’t make it easier that debating demands some real efforts: first of all, we have to be knowledgeable about the topic, we have to get information. Then we have to be able to present arguments on our standpoint generating some cognitive stress (assuming that the ’because I said so’-type of statements – no matter how effective they can be – are not considered as arguments). Finally, the most uncomfortable part of it is that if we engage in a debate with someone, there is a chance to find out that we are absolutely wrong or at least there are really strong arguments on the other side – and we have to do something about it.

Taking this into consideration it’s no wonder why debating (the real one) is not one of our favourite hobbies. However, real debates – the ones in which the participants end up gaining new knowledge (a new point of view of the topic, of the other and of themselves) gained – are pretty much fruitful.
That is what the Have your say! Program is based on: high school students today have very few opportunities to participate in  real debates, especially with adults. Our response to that is: the consultaion days of the program offer interactive debate sessions where the students  acquire the techniques of reasoning and get to know the solution-centered approach, and the consensus-seeking debate. After their own standpoint is outlined, they can discuss it with adults (decision-makers and experts) in a structured way.

The central topic of the Have your say! Program this year is youth unemployment – a problem which should not be overlooked. What do young peaple know about the expectations of the labor market? Do they have some ideas about their future? How would they solve the problem of youth unemployment? These will be the main themes of the forty debate days taking place in the months to come nation-wide.

The Have your say! Program has some more interesting components as well: methodology courses for educators, professionals and mentors will be organized for the participating schools and locally initiated debate projects organized by the teachers and educators granting exciting debates in those schools in the Spring.

To be continued...