Do you want to know more about the experience of learning to debate? Perhaps the opinion on BDS of some of our ex-members helps:
Warren Quinton, teacher (UK): I never debated when I was at school or university as an undergraduate. That’s why when I became a teacher and was asked to coach the debate team, I felt like I was thrown in at the deep end. I coached debate for four years, learning as I went along. When I went back to university, I joined the BDS, and at last was given the opportunity to put into practice myself what I had been teaching previously. My time at BDS was invaluable in improving my public-speaking skills – a key skill for a teacher – forming more coherent arguments and, most importantly, giving me experience of debating that I can now take and share with my students.
Carlos Barbosa, PhD (Colombia): At Barcelona Debating Society I was able to get a taste of what debating global issues is about: the style, the type of knowledge involved, and the dos and don’ts of public debate. I can say it broadened my perspectives on how discussion works in decision making scenarios and helped me realize how much I needed to move outside of my scholarly comfort zone. In general, I think BDS activities are useful to refine your debating skills: plan adequately, make your points clear, get the audience’s attention, and think fast. All this in a very friendly environment.
Andreas Pritchard, student (UK): Debating has changed the way I approach issues and think about problems. When constructing an effective case, you have to look at it from all sides since the immediate question is, ‘how could the opposing side attack this?’ This has made me far more critical of my own positions and better able to present the strongest case, whether it be in a debate itself or when writing my Master’s thesis. Another great benefit of debating is being forced to confront and present arguments that go against personal inclinations. Because you can’t select whether you are for or against a motion, you must engage with the side you are given. This has prompted several reconsiderations of issues that had previously seemed black and white. Even if presenting a case didn’t change my personal view, knowing where the other side is coming from and their potential arguments makes it easier to effectively refute their case. Since leaving Barcelona, I continued to debate during the second year of my Master’s in Munich and I participated in the European Universities Debating Championship in Tallinn in August 2017. Overall, the skills I have gained since starting debate – from refined argumentation to greater confidence speaking in public – have helped me during my studies and will be hugely valuable in my career going forward.
Malgorzata Kurak, PhD (Poland): Malgorzata Kurak is a Ph.D. in Economics, Management and Organization for the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). She has an extensive research, business and teaching experience gained as a Visiting Fellow at Bruegel, Co-Director and Workshop Instructor at Global Leadership Initiative (partnered with Rotary International and United Nations), Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum, Debater and Secretary General at Barcelona Debating Society, and Teaching Assistant at ESADE Business School. Malgorzata represented Barcelona Debating Society in tournaments like the Baillie Gifford Oxford Women’s Open in Oxford, or the European University Debating Championship 2015 in Vienna. Seeking for new and effective teaching methods she has incorporated economic debates as a classroom activity for her students. She has educated them on British Parliamentary debating style, which she has herself mastered as an active debater in the Barcelona Debating Society. In the weekly debates over 60 students have debated on a number of economic motions in her classroom. Students have really enjoyed this new approach and expressed their willingness to debate beyond the classroom! Overall, they became more confident, and able to understand and defend different standpoints in a debate. As a result, their academic performance has increased as compared to the previous years.
Gerard Valldeperes, student (Spain): L’European Universities Debating Championship és una experiència única que no pot deixar indiferent a ningú. Sempre se’ns ha dit que la vida universitària no s’ha de limitar a aprovar les assignatures, i que el ventall d’opcions que se t’obre s’ha d’aprofitar: aquest n’és el cas més clar. L’edició de l’agost de 2017, que va tenir lloc a Varsòvia i a la qual vaig tenir la sort de participar-hi no va decebre gens ni mica. Durant una setmana ben intensa, tens l’oportunitat no només de donar el millor de tu mateix, posant en pràctica les habilitats que hagis pogut adquirir en oratòria i comunicació en llengua anglesa, sinó que coneixes estudiants universitaris brillants (també extravertits i amb ganes de fer noves amistats, en la majoria d’ocasions). El meu consell, aprofita l’ocasió, si la tens, perquè no te’n penediràs.