Interview with Rok and Nuša, debate teachers

How was the teaching experience?

Rok: The teaching experience was extremely pleasant and fulfilling. It is always great to see a group of dedicated young people from across Europe cooperating together in a classroom. The hosts were very attentive and overall excellent and have ensured that the teaching was done in the most optimal conditions.

Nuša: It was great! The children were really cooperative and got along great - they were excited to try out new things and were not afraid of asking any question they might have had. This openness and willingness to help each other made for some really interesting and productive sessions. The children were also pretty funny and managed to make even the more “boring” parts fun for me and them.

How have you worked these past days with students? What kind of activities have you put into practice? 

Rok: We have gone through a pilot three day program designed to introduce debating to beginners. The curriculum was designed in a way that starts from zero and then gradually builds on skills with the goal of making the debaters fully capable of delivering a whole debate round on the final goal. The lessons were interactive, and the students did excellent in different exercises on style, argumentation and motion analysis.

Nuša: I tried a lot of different debate games, as younger children usually need to be entertained a bit more. We also got to the theoretical part by leading discussions, which made the children believe they could achieve anything, because the knowledge they got was one that they provided - if they knew things in theory already, it was a much smaller step to get them to put them into practice.

What was the most challenging part of the teaching program? 

Rok: The program was relatively ambitious in the sense that we had to cover a lot of ground in just three days, so we had to be very strict in time management. Additionally, the group was relatively diverse in the age and debate experience of the participants, so we had to be very flexible in our pedagogical approaches to make sure that the subject matter was understood by all. But the latter made the teaching experience even more rewarding, seeing how well the students collaborated with each other.

Nuša: Well I taught the younger group and we had occasional language problems and it was interesting to observe how the children really stepped together and made sure everyone understood everyone else, helping each other with different activities.

What skills do you think you have been able to improve? What have students learnt? 

Rok: With full confidence I can claim that students have gained a lot practical knowledge on debating itself - how to form and respond to arguments, how to brainstorm motions - as well as on public speaking in general, as we made sure that everyone got plenty opportunity to speak, a part of education sometimes forgotten in more traditional educational environments. Moreover, the students have made new friends and gotten to know a new cultural environment and I am sure this had a profound effect on them. The program was also extremely rewarding for me as a trainer, as I gained a lot of feedback on how the program we have developed in the scope of our Erasmus+ program works in a classroom.

Nuša: I think I took away the ability to really utilise humour. These kids were strangers when we started, but even by the second day, the group already had inside jokes and references that they used to entertain each other. By using those examples as a teacher, I was able to make them laugh and remember some theoretical concepts better.

Do expectations have been met? Is there anything you would have changed?

Rok: Absolutely, the expectations have been met. When looking back, one can always think of some things they could have done better as a trainer, an example better explained there, and more clear instruction there. But overall, I think the training was a success and I would not change anything.

Nuša: My expectations were not only met but surpassed. I expected a lot more quiet and reserved group, so I was pleasantly surprised from the first moment on. The children were able to adapt to any context given and seemed to have enjoyed everything. Change anything? Maybe just make the exchange a bit longer, so that everyone would have had even more fun