Debate topic of the week: To strike or not to strike?

A strike by schoolchildren will take place on Friday 15th March. Students around the world plan to leave their classrooms to demonstrate for action on climate change. We used this topic as the basis for our latest workshop to develop debating, negotiation and creative-thinking skills.

How do you inspire an audience? Participants looked beforehand at the speeches of Greta Thunberg, the schoolgirl who inspired the strikes, and worked on developing an awareness of energy, enthusiasm and authenticity through their body language and voice tone. Older children looked at the importance of novelty when presenting an idea to your audience, and the example from Greta Thunberg’s speech ‘Our house is on fire’ – an image that presents the idea of climate change in a new way that compels action in the listener.

Negotiation was the next skill we worked on. One of the secrets (and challenges!) of a skilled negotiation is being able to understand the viewpoints of all parties, and to come up with creative solutions that aim to satisfy all sides. Students were given character roles to act out and participants argued for viewpoints that they may not have considered before, developing empathy and an awareness of different negotiation styles.

The final task was to devise a fundraising event. Students worked in teams to create a pitch on the event they would hold, considering how they would fund it and attract publicity. This kicked off their creative and innovative thinking skills alongside a practical slant of how to put a plan into action.

The Junior Lawyers Club teaches 8-13 year olds the transferable skills of a lawyer – public speaking, debate, problem-solving, creative and critical thinking, through a series of fast-paced, fun exercises.