Learning to debate using video

At one of the schools I've been working with, we had a team debate about project ideas but it was chaotic. Everyone spoke at once, there was no chair-person and no idea about what we hoped to get out of the meeting  So, we came up with the idea of making the debate itself the focus for a film project. 

Step 1

To begin, we spent some time discussing debating styles and approaches – the role and skills of the chair-person, using your voice clearly, listening and picking up on points, including a wide range of contributions, sticking to the agenda and so on. 

Debate 06

Step 2

Next after a bit of rehearsal we filmed a wide master shot of the whole debate. During the debate we took notes of who spoke, what they spoke about, observations of performance, anything that could be improved.

Step 3

We looked back at the video and and had a conversation about how it went and anything that could be improved.

Debate-02  Debate-01 
Step 4

A re-run of sections of the debate to improve the behaviour. The camera position was changed to focus on an individual's contribution to the debate. This was scary for the individual but gave a real chance to iron out any performance or communication issues.  We did this re-framing about four or five times.


Step 5

The debate was edited together using the improved sections to look like a really slick and well chaired debate. Someone said it looked like a scene from "young apprentice" – hope that was a complement!

This was a very exciting and memorable process which gave the children a lot of new skills and confidence. They looked terrific on camera and everyone was very proud of how professionally they performed. Of course it was an edited sequence, but it demonstrated what was possible to achieve.  

This is a great way to use video in school because it provides a little bit of fear, excitement and theatre into the learning. With instant playback you can address issues simply by showing them the video – often the facilitator need not say anything; show rather than tell. It's also a resource to show other children with some ready made role models.

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