What participants think of the pilot debates held at Eton College in March 2015
“A highlight for me was the opportunity to work with boys outside the schoolroom, seeing them in a different context and on their own time. This project was completely voluntary for them; they were genuinely engaged and passionate about the issues.
A lasting and fond memory will be the first meeting when ten nervous students from the two schools met each other for the first time. I was nervous too, but within seconds the atmosphere was electric with enthusiasm and anticipation. Everyone had one thing in common at least, and a discussion of who was who’s favourite character quickly ensued. Another reward was the sense of pride I felt watching the finale as the students delivered their speeches and rebuttals in front of an audience of their peers and elders; the product of several weeks of teamwork, strategizing and a steep learning curve of how to debate.
Engagement with environmental issues is often an emotional one and this was no exception. Finally, I feel the unprompted comments from the boys after the competition truly revealed the educational value of this process, their comments were more insightful than I would ever have predicted.”
- Kerri Hicks, a Biology Teacher at Eton College, who also runs the Banks Society. The concept of an environmental debate based on Jabujicaba was her idea, after she read the book and saw its potential as a learning tool to explore global environmental issues through the eyes of others.
“the Jabujicaba debate was very engaging and sparked my interest in the issues. I think these sorts of teamwork events are very fruitful in term of actually engaging boys in current environmental affairs. It’s much better to have boys actively becoming interested in such issues because they’ve been given an immersive opportunity, than to preach or lecture them”
- Giles Atkinson, Eton College
“Taking part in the Jabujicaba debates has pushed me to want to be more engaged with the Environmental Society in the future. In my opinion I think holding more activities which actually involve boys would be beneficial to boys’ understanding of sustainability, conservation and the environment”
- Max Halcox, Eton College
The Jabujicaba debates were a fantastic opportunity for the students at Burnham Grammar School to get involved in a debate. As a school, we do not have a debating society and the students therefore have little/no experience in debating. The five students involved really valued the opportunity to develop this “soft” skill, which will be so helpful to them at university and in the world of work.
Eton was an inspiring, and initially intimidating, setting to hold the workshops and the debates. To be honest, our students had initial fears and preconceptions about what the place and the people would be like. These ideas were quickly allayed through the engaging workshop activities and the friendly, approachable staff and student body at Eton. The highlight of the entire experience for me was seeing students from different schools working together to achieve a common goal.
All five of the participants from Burnham Grammar School really enjoyed the experience. Their confidence grew throughout each workshop, culminating in the debate, which for many of them, was their first opportunity to practise public speaking. I was exceptionally proud and impressed by the outcomes of the debate.
- Tom Banin, Geography teacher, Burnham Grammar
“I was humbled, proud and completely overwhelmed by the creative energy and intellect everybody put into making this pilot such a success. Jabujicaba was written to provoke questions, fuel debate and change aspirations that better futures are possible. My favourite moment was the ice-breaker – a speed-dating game based on the characters of the book. Everybody just got stuck into it and didn’t even need me to explain the rules. My proudest moment was when the debating team confidently handled the really tricky questions from the floor!”
- Sigrid Shreeve, founder Voices for Nature, author