The debate, which was sponsored by Hawksford and was moderated by Mark McQuillan of ITV, took place on Wednesday 12 March 2014. More than 150 local dignitaries, industry experts, business leaders, parents and students attended the event to consider the topic: ‘This house believes the decline of the printed word will lead to a decline in literacy standards.’
The JCG-Hawksford event, which was the first to involve four schools, stirred up healthy discussion on the topic and resulted in the closest vote of the series to date.
The team for the proposition spoke first and argued that automatic spellcheck functions and online thesaurus websites, often accessed via tablets, mean people no longer need to learn how to spell and use punctuation and grammar. They also stated that a recent study found that England is currently ranked in 22nd place of 23 countries in terms of literacy standards and that their own generation is the first not to have improved literacy standards when compared to the previous generation.
The team against the proposition argued that humans adapt by using technology and that individuals now access books on tablets and e-readers, but are still reading. The team argued that it is the storage and delivery method that has changed.
The audience then voted and the team against the proposition won by only one vote.
Lauren Staples, a pupil at Hautlieu, said of the debate: ‘I was dreading the Q&A (at the end of the debate) but it turned out to be my favourite part of the night. I have enjoyed being part of the debate and would really like to be involved in another one or to tell fellow students what it is all about so they also learn why having debating as a skill is so helpful.’
John Perkins, director at Hawksford, attended the debate: ‘The students embraced a thought provoking subject at the debate – it is clear how challenging it was as the result was split by only one vote. The students argued with great passion, knowledge and good humour and it was great to see more schools being included in the debate series.’
The JCG-Hawksford Debate Series was set up in October 2012 to provide students with an opportunity to develop their rhetorical skills and to work together to consider the important issues that many of them could face in the future. The series was opened up to include other schools in October 2013, when a debate was held involving JCG and Grainville pupils.
The next debate will take place on Thursday 10 July.