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Who Are Debate Projects For?

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Debating builds a wide range of skills from critical thinking and public speaking to teamwork and research. Additionally debating helps to build confidence and facilities engaging social interactions. When debating, participants need to adopt altering view points, often different to their own beliefs. In this way, debating helps develop tolerance. Debating can even help with language skills. With such wide ranging benefits, debating is a great fit for various social groups – a topic we dived into during our workshop on Understanding the audience for active engagement which was part of the Debate Education in Museums Across Central and Eastern Europe project.

During the workshop we discussed examples of debating being used with different types of audiences. Most debate projects focus on young people and all the countries engaged in our workshop had examples as such activities. Debating suits young people as it develops skills key for 21st century employment, such as communication, collaboration and continuous learning, which are often de-prioritized in the school curriculums.

However, debating is not only for young people and it can be a beneficial tool for other groups. During the workshop, it was great to see the range of audiences that participate in debate programmes across the various countries. In Ukraine, debate programmes were organized for internally moved people. In Czech Republic, Roman people benefited from debating projects. And in Georgia debating is used to upskill city hall representatives and future school teachers. Perhaps debating will not solve all the problems faced by the various groups but it can be a great tool to help people find their own voice and with confidence speak on the issues that are important to them.

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