How do you win an argument? Raise your voice and put your foot down aggressively. Or convince your audience by backing your argument with solid reasoning and supportive evidence.

Plan B could work better both on stage and in life was what Class VIII students of Holy Cross Matriculation School, Somarasanpettai, took home from the recent NIE session on debate and discussion.

While students may shy away when the word ‘discussion' is mentioned, resource person Radhika says a discussion is similar to a conversation, except for the fact it is centred on a topic.

In the first activity of the last module under ‘Speaking skills' students were divided into groups to discuss topics including traffic in the city and necessity of uniforms in school.

The discussion allowed room for expression of diverse ideas that were summarised and presented in front of the class by a group member.

From deciding the moderator of discussion and picking a person to present the consensus to assessing their own contribution to the discussion, students enjoyed the finer points a discussion entailed.

The debate on the other hand was all about taking sides and rooting for the side chosen.

Students argued on whether cricket was ruining other sports and pondered over banning junk food in canteens.

“A debate is a learning experience as it pushes students to probe deeper, dig up information and come up with ideas to accentuate their side of the argument.”

The session saw the most reticent of children shed inhibitions and put forth original ideas as everyone got a platform to speak.

Stating that good speakers are essentially good listeners, Ms.Radhika guided students through the rites of a discussion- preparation, asking questions, listening to ideas, summarising concepts and finding middle ground.

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