In the Lutheran Academy in Martin, teaching is not just about the passing on of theoretical knowledge. On the contrary, students are taught to apply knowledge in practical ways because one of the pillars of teaching is experiential learning. “You really learn to do something when you put it into practice.” Recently, students attended lectures on the topic of ‘debate” and also learned the correct and proper way in which debate is conducted.
The “Art of Rhetoric” has been discussed since ancient times. Socrates and later his pupil Plato thought about how to challenge the argument of another person in discussion and vice versa: How to convince others of the validity of their own opinions. In Slovakia, students of two high schools – Bilingual High School in Sucany and Joseph Lettricha High School in Martin – met recently to compete in organized debate: Their topic? “The Entry of Slovakia into the EU.”
Through debate, the pupils of both high schools attempted to convince their listeners of the positive or negative aspects of our country’s entry into the European Union. The winning team from the Bilingual School in Sucany argued that the admittance of Slovakia to the EU was a completely positive step. These students made the point that citizens of Slovakia had prospered, rather than suffered, as a result of this union. Afterward, the organizer of the competition, Poliacikova, explained why the team from Sucany had won, then she encouraged all students present to seek, create, and learn to defend their arguments.
Students from the Lutheran Academy in Martin were able to observe the principles of debate while watching a real debate in a competitive setting. They then planned to return to compete themselves the next week, taking three teams consisting of three pupils on each team. We wish them much luck!
It is very exciting to see our students learning both the theory and the practical aspects of discussion and debate. Perhaps we can all learn to speak “as Socrates”: truthfully, clearly, and kindly. We all have tongues, so that we can talk, but we also have teeth to stop our tongues, if necessary!