Four Form 6 pupils took part in the regional round of the J. S. Mill Cup this week, a Philosophy competition created by the University of St Andrews. The Cup – named after the father of Classical Liberalism and fierce proponent of free speech – draws together schools from around the country to discuss ethical issues of public concern in a competitive but constructive environment. Discussions and debating topics range from the deportation of foreign fighters, through issues of free speech and homophobia, to the rights and wrongs of public nudity.
This year the tournament was hosted online by the University of Leeds and judged by Philosophy professors and PhD students at the University.
The Oakham team prepared for the Cup by researching eight separate issues provided by the University and they met each week to share and analyse their views. On the day of the competition, two of these issues were selected for Oakham to analyse with another school which students were expected to do without notes and with minimal time to prepare. The tournament differs from a standard debating competition in that each team gives their own speech and, whilst the opposition is allowed to ask for clarification, points are awarded for the way in which students deal with questions from judges and the opposing team.
Teacher of Religion & Philosophy, Mr Tom Allen says, “After battling against two impressive schools, Oakham narrowly missed out on a place in the semi-finals of the competition. However the students really enjoyed speaking and responding in the discussions, and were able to utilise their knowledge from their A-level Ethics modules and their skills in critical thinking and public speaking. We look forward to competing again next year, hopefully at the University of Leeds itself.”