“Debate Academy”: when speech meets critical sense under the light of the Third Paradise
From 8 to 11 March 2022, during the four days of the Debate Academy, Rebirth/Third Paradise ambassadress Sonia Barale, together with the students of the Baruffi high school in Ceva and Ormea, created an eco-sustainable fabric drape made from recycled PET bottles. The drape represents Michelangelo Pistoletto's trinamic symbol, reinterpreted in an educational and artistic way for the children. “We tried to express the Debate Academy by linking it to Michelangelo Pistoletto’s Rebirth project," said Barale, “as young people can learn to debate in public also through demopractical practices associated to eco-sustainability, art and civic education".

In “The Art of Being Right”, Schopenhauer gives a new definition of dialectics and public speaking, explaining the possibility of defending one’s own thought relying on thirty-eight stratagems, regardless of the truth or falsity of the debate. Now imagine that this practice could become reality and you found yourself participating in an Italian debate competition. Sonia Barale, Rebirth/Third Paradise ambassadress, Mara Ferrero, school headmistress, and Barbara Gamerra, teacher, together with teacher Ismaele Argento and debate coach Giorgia Fontana, led the students of the Baruffi institute through the creation of two eco-friendly drapes to help them master the topics entrusted to them.

I drappi
“We tried to express the Debate Academy* by linking it to Michelangelo Pistoletto’s Rebirth project,” said Sonia Barale, “as young people can also learn to debate in public through demopractical practices associated to eco-sustainability, art and civic education. We try to contribute providing knowledge, so that they can use it in the competitions”. During the meeting with the ambassadress, the students had the opportunity to discuss and deal with the themes of sustainability, beauty and peace, after which they started making the two drapes. The first represented the debaters’ ability to speak in public through the trinamic symbol: we find the speaker on one side and the audience on the other, united in a synthesis by the debater’s ability to communicate in front of many people. The second banner featured instead sentences by Giorgia Fontana and Michele Tovaglieri, a great debater champion. A heart and a brain were then depicted inside the Third Paradise, joined together in the central circle to symbolise the importance of emotions, but at the same time of the logic that students must be able to convey when speaking in public. The quotes by the two debaters, “push yourself beyond words and receive the best from others”and “discover the art of why and go beyond your own convictions” best explain the meaning, philosophy and ethics of the Debate Academy.

The importance of the Debate Academy
“The trinamic symbol is in perfect connection with the Debate Academy,” Barale explained, “because it can introduce current contents useful for young people’s reasoning, dialectics and public speaking skills, but it is also an innovative way of conveying the themes of rebirth and commitment of the Third Paradise. Through my professional career, I have realised how important it is to be able to express oneself effectively, knowing how to be clear and straightforward. Students learn how to do this through this innovative strategy. Also, they are debating important issues, major European and international principles”. School head Mara Ferrero, a member of the Cuneo embassy, added that “debate is a powerful educational vanguard: unexpected and prestigious past results have fuelled a passion for debate at school, strongly supported by my teachers and included in the curriculum in its own right. Furthermore, the transversal nature of debate makes it possible to reflect on highly topical issues, e.g. those contained in the 2030 Agenda, and thus opens up interesting collaborations, like the one with the Rebirth project, proposed by Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto. Our children need dialogue in order to develop their critical spirit, to learn to respect the ideas of others and to support their own with dialectical skills and persuasive confidence. All these elements are inherent in the practice of debate, which I believe should become a curricular discipline, as is already the case in many foreign countries”. Debater Michele Tovaglieri also expressed his opinion on the importance of the development of critical sense in students: “Structuring processes of growth in face-to-face communication is of utmost importance. Learning how to communicate, overcoming a communicative illiteracy, makes a person not only human, but a citizen of the world, a person who in everyday life respects, and knows how to respect, the ideas and opinions of the interlocutor, being able to transform criticisms and objections into objects of reflection and possible refutation”.

*The Baruffi Ceva-Ormea students came second at the regional selections in Turin on 19 March, and will take part in the final on Friday 1 April at Palazzo Ducale in Genoa.