OPD, BPS and Co. – Retrospection on debating workshop in Jena

Datum: Nov 18th, 2010
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Category: News of debating clubs, Themen

Pubs, comedians and potato salad: These things and even more were provided during the debating workshop of Debattiergesellschaft Jena (DGJ) from 12 till 14 November. Originally thought of as an internal event, the non-competitive debaters’ meeting did not only attract speakers from DGJ but also especially debating novices from other clubs like Dresden, Magdeburg and Munich. In a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere the debates were held in the established formats Open Parliamentary Debate (OPD) and British Parliamentary Style (BPS) but also in Wartburg style. Some speakers even tried to discuss under the rules of Disputation.

It was very particular for this event that debaters didn’t receive points for their speeches. The weekend should provide experience, different formats and learning effects, the conveners intended. Before each debate lots decided the duties and positions, so every participant had to be adjudicator or speaker at least once. Furthermore, DGJ did not ask the participants of the debating workshop for any fees. All debaters from other cities got crash places.

On early Friday evening Jonathan Scholbach, initiator and organizer of the debating workshop, welcomed everyone and gave an introduction to the rules of Disputation. Afterwards the first two Disputations to the topic “health” were held simultaneously. In one of them, defendant Alexander Rehfeldt introduced the thesis that health care lies in the responsibility of every individual. The opponent Fabian Hachenberg won because he was able to demonstrate a contradiction.

After the participants from Magdeburg arrived with a little delay at Friedrich Schiller University (FSU), a debate in Wartburg style took place. To enable a higher number of debaters to speak, three free speakers joined the debate. The question “Does the world benefit from having a single superpower?” has been discussed. During the debate most of the speakers obviously mixed up the terms of the OPD format with the ones of Wartburg style. They spoke about a “government”, an “opposition” and a “proposal”. Attention: A Wartburg debate is a discussion about definitions, there is no proposal and the two sides are called “pro” and “contra”. The participants of ZEIT DEBATTE Jena, which will take place from 20 to 22 May 2011 exclusively in Wartburg style, should make themselves familiar with these conditions before the tournament.

The evaluation of the debate in Wartburg style happened at the pub “Roter Hirsch”, where the members of DGJ usually go after their weekly debate on Tuesday. The adjudicators Jonathan and Benjamin Finger, president of DGJ, gave their constructive feedback about the debate and the single speakers while everyone enjoyed beer and wine. In the end, the pro side won with a small lead.

The second day also started with a Disputation. This time, three debates about the topic “beauty” were held simultaneously. Nora Sachse from Dresden introduced the thesis that plastic surgery is not only reasonable, but also necessary. She confronted opponent Julia Barthel, also from Dresden, with this paradox statement. Finally the Disputation ended in a tie.

After lunch at the canteen of FSU there was another debate in Wartburg style. Another Disputation happened simultaneously, so more participants got the chance to speak. The main topic of both debates was “religion”. The question of the Wartburg debate was “Does religion bring more hate into the world?” Again the pro side won.

The afternoon was completed by a BPS debate about the motion “This house would draw a part of German Bundestag mandates”. The closing opposition was the strongest fraction of this exciting debate. Again, another Disputation took place simultaneously. Afterwards, all participants were hungry and went to the flat of Benjamin. While the president of DGJ rattled the pots and pans in the kitchen, the other participants entertained themselves with funny plays on words. Satisfied and with full stomachs they took a walk back to the city center to finish the evening at “Café Immergrün” with more jokes and games. Alexander Labinsky from Dresden revealed to Achte Minute that he likes the pub culture in Jena more than in Dresden and that’s why he is enjoying the weekend even more.

In the morning and more or less awake all participants arrived at FSU for the last time . The final debate of the workshop was held in OPD style. All sides discussed about the abolishment of the prohibition of incest in an intense way. The government was able to convince the audience and won the debate with a small lead. The DGJ guys had organized a little buffet so the participants did not have to leave Jena while hungry. They had prepared noodle and potato salad, but also sandwiches and other delicious food. The thankful participants left after lunch with full stomachs and content faces.

Organizer Jonathan told the editorial staff of Achte Minute that he really enjoyed the weekend. It showed that debating without the pressure of a competition could also be very instructive. He added: “I’m especially thrilled that the experiment ‘Disputation’ worked out and that the style seems to be well accepted by the debaters. Maybe the people from Dresden, Munich and Magdeburg will take this puristic form of debating into their societies. After the first test outside the tight borders of DGJ worked out positively, I’m thinking about establishing an art of “Tele-Disputation” – maybe written or as an audio chat. Michael Hoppmann, father of the style, has already elaborated an adaptation of the rules for the Disputation via SMS. If one makes the style a bit more public, there is definitely a perspective for a long distance tournament in Disputation.”

vro / apf

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