Stimulating discussion and debate | Portsmouth High School

Stimulating discussion and debate

Oxford University has published some sample questions to dispel the myths surrounding the concept that they ask tricky questions to catch students out at interview.

The purpose of their questioning is to stimulate discussion and debate and see how applicants respond to new ideas and think. The questions seem quite straight forward: can archeology prove or disprove the Bible? What happens when you bring your fingers together? Do Bankers deserve their high pay or should government limit it?

There is no set answer to any of these questions and anyway they don’t want simplistic responses – the sort that start with a closed view. Applicants are expected to start with the obvious and then build theoretical possibles through discussion with the interviewer. Our Sophia and Athene programme helps broaden our pupils thinking and helps them tackle questions and problems with an analytical eye.

This last two weeks the older senior pupils have enjoyed listening to a morning 15 minute talk as part of our academic lecture series. Some of the sessions have been given by staff and we are grateful to parents who have taken time out of their busy schedules to deliver a short “Ted Talk” too. Moreover our upper sixth girls have risen to this challenge and, having listened to Lara’s lecture on whether science can be used to answer all questions, I know she could give a strong response to the question about archeology and the Bible. Furthermore Charlie, I am sure, could hold her own in any scientific debate having lectured on the concept of what constitutes time.

Our girls are not phased or daunted by entering into discussion and they are well prepared for this level of study at university.

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