“Deliberation and debate is the way you stir the soul of our democracy.” Jesse Jackson
18 months ago, I was asked to write a guest blog for Noisy Classroom about audibility; it’s all very well helping students to find their voice but making sure that their voices can be heard can be another challenge entirely! Little did I know when I wrote that blog that I’d be accepting a post with Noisy Classroom in the months to come! I can’t tell you how incredibly proud and excited I am to be joining the team as Learning and Development Manager.
Having guest judged at PiXL Up4Debate for several years now, Noisy Classroom has long been an organisation that I’ve admired, and the heats from the competitions never fail to inspire me. Many times, I have told competitors what a privilege it is for me to assess their debating skills – and I meant every word.
I think that most of us who work in the business of oracy and communication do so because it is a vocation. We understand how critical it is for current and future generations to be able to communicate clearly and effectively and we are utterly passionate about sharing this message.
There are so many benefits to being an effective communicator, not least that communication skills are some of the most sought-after skills by employers; yet, paradoxically, they remain some of the most neglected. Research from Sutton Trust in February 2019, for the APPG for Social Mobility, found that from the age of five, the UK’s most disadvantaged children can be 19 months behind their more affluent peers in vocabulary development, and this deficit can have life-long consequences. Worryingly, the report also states: “Children with poor vocabulary age five are more than twice as likely to be unemployed aged 34”. Good oracy skills are also essential to mental and physical health – an inability to communicate effectively can have a negative impact not only on a person’s social status, but also on their physical and emotional wellbeing.
What particularly excites me about the Noisy Classroom is that, as well as promoting effective communication and confident presentation skills, they seek to empower young people to take these skills to the next level– through the challenging and interrogation of information, through critical thinking, through the transformative power of debate.
While it is important for future generations to find and develop their voice, it is only through the practice of critical oracy that they will develop the power to use that voice in a truly meaningful way that can generate change. It is the students of today that strive to develop these skills who will be the leaders of tomorrow.