“It was through DM that I realised that debate, argument and discussion...are truly essential ways to shape our own thoughts and views, and to shape the world around us.”
I became involved in Debating Matters by chance. My school’s Head of English was struggling to put together a team from his own English classes so had to cast his net wider and, as someone always keen to have an argument, my name came up. I am forever grateful for the reticence of that English class, because without it I wouldn’t have become involved with what has become a hugely important part of my life.
It was through Debating Matters that I realised that debate, argument and discussion are not just vaguely entertaining ways to pass the time, but are truly essential ways to shape our own thoughts and views, and to shape the world around us. The focus on ideas and content over rhetorical wizardry led me into thinking carefully about topics I had never considered before and opened my eyes to the fact that there were serious issues to be fought out behind the superficial headlines and sound bites that often dominate the news.
Now, through my role at the Institute of Ideas, I’ve been involved in putting together a huge annual festival of debate and discussion, the Battle of Ideas, which aims to involve everyone in debating important contemporary issues. Our speakers and attendees come from a huge cross section of society to battle over a vast array of topics - often the same ones being debated at Debating Matters. And that’s one of the best thing about Debating Matters - even if the element of competition was gone, these debates would still be worthwhile and important to have.
In my time with Debating Matters I have gone from competitor to judge, in locations across the UK from Bodmin to Belfast. I’ve met thousands of students and judges who are engaging in some of the most vital issues in society today, and I’ve had my own ideas challenged and tested along the way. The more people Debating Matters can reach, the more people can have this same experience, which is why I’m so pleased to be involved with this fantastic project.