Associated Teachers TV programme Inspirations: A Lesson from the Best A: How to Play Argument Tennis Objective The purpose of this activity is to encourage pairs of pupils to involve in debating a contentious subject they are studying by offering evidence, not opinion. Rules 1. The teacher divides the class in two. 2. One half of the class gathers evidence to defend one point of view; the other half finds evidence to support the opposite point of view. 3. For instance, in a History class, the teacher may want to explore the importance of Henry VIII by inviting one half to find information that supports the view that he was a great king and leader while the other half produce evidence to the contrary. 4. The pupils use their notes, textbooks and other sources to research their point of view. Each point they make MUST be supported by evidence, not just opinion. 5. Once the research has taken place, the teacher sets up the room like a tennis court, with the two sides sitting opposite one another. The teacher sits in the middle, in the umpire’s chair, where he adjudicates the argument. 6. The teacher invites a pupil from either side to argue. A point is made, which the opponent has to counter. 7. A second point is offered, which again has to be refuted. 8. The teacher can score the game like a tennis match or can simply encourage a verbal rally to develop. 9. Once the two opponents have used all their arguments, the teacher can either pronounce a winner or simply compliment both on the skill of their argument. 10. The next pair are then asked to play. 11. The teacher can be as competitive as he wants, awarding ‘games’ to one side or the other, so that an overall winner can be announced. 1 Note to teachers This document was not created by Teachers TV but the author has allowed us to publish it here to be used for educational purposes. B: Ideas for playing argument tennis in various subjects History Argument Tennis can be used to explore almost any theme where there are opposing points of view. For instance, Vietnam’s foreign policy in Vietnam, Stalin’s policies for industrialisation or Britain’s policy of dismantling the Empire. Individuals’ contributions to history can be assessed: Ghandi, Churchill, Thatcher. Geography This works best in areas such as Human Geography and Demographic Geography. Issues such as providing aid to the Third World, population control, building on the Green Belt, Town and City planning and so on. Citizenship Argument Tennis can be used to explore issues such as: Is taking a gap Year worth doing? Should people be made to vote? Charities do more harm than good. Should the UK government be sending aid to the Third World when there are needy people at home? Science Use Argument Tennis for ethical issues. Can experimenting on animals be justified? Is nuclear energy the answer to our energy needs? Are scientists to blame for global warming? 2 Note to teachers This document was not created by Teachers TV but the author has allowed us to publish it here to be used for educational purposes. Physical Education Argument Tennis is an ideal activity to support the social and political aspects of the subject. All pupils, no matter what their interest in sport, should be made to play games. Sports teams should not play against nations whose political systems are no supported in the West – e.g. North Korea, Zimbabwe. The amount of money in some sports such as football is spoiling the game. Drama Use Argument Tennis to explore characters. This can include characters from texts that are being studied and characters who have been created by the students in their improvisations. 3 Note to teachers This document was not created by Teachers TV but the author has allowed us to publish it here to be used for educational purposes.
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