Debate is a form of argument between two parties, one for and one against. An example of this could be “We believe that smoking should be banned” and the arguments would be “for smoking VS against smoking”. Dr. Rodney Sharkey believes in “collective learning” in which during his workshop Sharkey Does Debate, the audience’s participation plays a critical part. The methods used were quite unorthodox but effective. The fact that the session is all about debating and the audience were asked to debate on several occasions from “Ban smoking VS smoking” to “women are more superior to men VS the opposing party” shows the diversity in topics and participation of the audience. Opening up with a debate got the room heated because the participants had to think of 3 debate arguments on the spot..
There were several interesting points that were made by Dr. Sharkey, such as, “correlation does not equal causation in a debate.” A person must know how their opponent thinks in order to persuade them. Another point made by Sharkey was that one should “open up your personal space to the room that you’re talking to” in order to get that winning argument which relies on 3 strong points. This workshop was effective in that it taught the participants a lesson by way of trying out his ideas and concepts, as oppose to listening to a speaker talk for half an hour without any participation from the audience. It was a light start on the first day of the conference that has inspired debating skills in the participants and was also very well-received.
By: Haya Al-Thani