The Art of Debate - Immortality?
Should people live forever? This was the important topic of debate this week in class, as our discussion of Tuck Everlasting continued.
Students divided into teams and were given the task of developing a two minute opening statement to summarize their teams position, and a list of arguments to support that position. We discussed what a sound, logical argument looks like, and the importance of their points addressing the 'good of all', and not just individuals. I also reminded them that during their preparation time, they should put some thought to what the other side may argue, and be prepared for rebuttal.
The students quickly got to work developing their strategies, and spent about half the class brainstorming and writing up their points. The team that chose to argue for immortality quickly realized they had the harder position, and struggled initially to think of non-selfish reasons why all people living forever would be a good thing. However, with some guidance, they were able to develop a strong, creative position.
I acted as moderator for our debate, and the students did a great job articulating their opening statements and list of positions. I gave each side several more minutes to elaborate on each argument and then asked for rebuttal from the other side. The students learned that a debate requires patience, self-control, and order, as everyone was very eager to share their opinions! All of the students did a great job defending their positions, and showed wonderful teamwork and cooperation. In the end, the consensus among all of us was that immortality would probably not be beneficial to the planet or to individuals. However, the official winning team was the one that had argued for immortality, chiefly because they had a much tougher job to do and provided a strong oral argument and defense of their points.
Toward the end of the debate, I asked the class to dig deeper and posed this question: Would it be a good idea if select "special" people be given immortality? People with talents and gifts that could really continue to benefit the world (Albert Einstein? Mother Teresa?). The students pondered this for awhile and seemed to think that perhaps that might be a good idea. But who to choose? How to choose? Students quickly realized this becomes a sticky problem of defining "special" and "value" with regard to people. And we ended our class contemplating this dilemma...
Great job everyone! At our next class we will identify the major Themes in Tuck Everlasting, and begin to develop our final class projects - News Broadcasts for Tree Gap "TV"!