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Utopia: The Real Debate
Submitted by master on Oct 22nd, 2012
Utopia, as outlined in Thomas More's book, Utopia, penned in 1516, is an interesting concept. But would it have been a viable way of life in the 16th century? The scholars of Lies Pasterkamp's class, History in the Modern World, took sides and debated the ideology of Utopia this week. Debating is research melded with theater, as we've seen in recent weeks in the United States. It's a mixture of knowing the facts (or being able to invent them on the fly, as is sadly the case for some debaters) and presenting them in such a way as to convince the judge, in this case English Teacher Nathan Zweig, of the validity of your viewpoint.
In a trimester schedule such as ours, preparing and executing a debate is a great use of those longer "double blocks" of 90 minutes duration. Debating is one of the best examples of progressive education in action—in this case using the facts to remember them. And the best lessons come from defending points of view you wouldn't normally defend. How better to expand one's world view than by occupying, for a time, the moccasins of someone with whom you disagree?
Here are some highlights of the class:
|This side of the room argued against Utopia as a viable option for 16th century Europe.||This side of the room tried to convince Judge Zweig that Utopia made all the sense in the world.|
|After opening statements, a recess was called in which the opposing teams crafted their rebuttals.||Is it just us, or does it seem that a class based on discussion and argument is just a little more engaging than a lecture?|
|Team Con was on tenterhooks as Judge Nathan outlined which aspects of the debate were won by each side. Ultimately, the Cons took the overall.||The debate was so intense and competitive that a round of hugs and handshakes and "well done's" were shared, just to make clear that no love or respect was lost in the intellectual exercise.|
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