A genre of debating, British Parliamentary Debate that mirrors the British parliament in its style and form has some rather interesting guidelines. The style encourages quick and critical thinking while speakers display their oratory skills. Speeches are prepared in just 15 mins before the debate starts and are delivered within a timed seven minutes. It is usually very engaging and intelectual.
One of the guidelines is the first three rules. The rule is a guideline to generating quality arguments. It encourages speakers to “write your first three intuitive arguments and strike them out”. It is believed that the first three arguments you intuitively develop are usually not sufficient to win because your opponents must have thought of the same thing. A popular use of this rule was a debate about rights and whether or not some things/beings have rights. After a seemingly unending back and forth on what entails known rights and how and whether it should be reciprocated, a speaker argues intelligently that rights always comes with responsibilities. He analyzes to bits how granting people or things’s rights comes with responsibilities on them. At its least, people should be able to defend their rights, else , their rights are not theirs. An opposing team member argues differently that rights, in many cases, do not come with responsibility. As seen in cases of unconscious people, babies, mentally disabled people or human vegetables. They do not recognize their rights nor can they defend it, but their rights must be put into consideration when interacting with them. The exchanges were deeply thought and intelligent.
This guideline teaches quick critical thinking as all these must happen within the fifteen minutes preparation time. It encourages speakers to see arguments from a very wide perspective and literally create the best out of nothing. Usually, people only understand things from perspectives that they have either experienced or seen before. That’s what builds up in their intuition. Here, we’re encouraged to think beyond the obvious and defend ideas that are ingenious and critical.
Notably, the debate style also discourages use of statistics to defend arguments. It is believed that statistical facts discourage questioning and debate is about logical analysis. If it does not make logical sense, your statistics are not going to make it any better. This guideline is the basis for not allowing any external help for debate preparation. Except a dictionary, all other external help is disallowed. The attention critical thinking in the British Parliamentary Debate cannot be overemphasized.
These guidelines are, to me, not just debate guidelines. They’re guidelines I have also cultivated to use in day to day interactions. They have helped significantly in the perspectives I see things from, interpret questions and actions also. We tend to not look beyond the surface when analyzing subjects and it leads to only a peripheral study. A closer look gives a wider scope, allowing for more diverse and well-thought explanations to subjects. Though skills I learnt many years ago, the first three rules stay relevant in my day to day thinking processes.