Pupils from Cranleigh School took part in a competition, ‘Dangerous Minds’ where they had only eight minutes each to convince the audience on a contentious topic

Six pupils took to the stage in front of a captive audience of peers and teachers, tackling issues from the viability of faith and religion, AI, and the importance of original thought. Winning the competition, Charlie M. considered the tagline, eight minutes to change the world.

'Dangerous Minds' Competition at Cranleigh School
‘Dangerous Minds’ competition at Cranleigh School

Academic ambition has long characterised Cranleigh pupils, and this year’s Dangerous Minds competition which took place on Thursday 26th January showcased just that. Every year, the competition gives a platform to pupils who aim to reveal a dangerous truth or idea; the speakers are then judged on both the coherence of their argument and the strength and clarity of their delivery.

Ozzy L., last year’s winner and this year’s captivating host, began by questioning the adjective that underpins the competition itself, asking the audience what it truly means to be dangerous. He concluded that the evening would be dangerous in its propensity to challenge accepted norms, which it certainly went on to do. 

Alex R. kicked off this year’s competition with her speech on the viability of faith and religion in today’s society, and whether or not the ‘truth’ actually matters. Alex carefully considered both the positive, and negative impacts of religion across history, wondering whether we would have fewer instances of terrorism and genocide if humans did not feel the need to appease a higher power. However, Alex concluded that faith, whether or not there really is a God at all, is a cornerstone of human goodness, and therefore the ‘truth’ is largely irrelevant.

Sophie M. came next, and intelligently championed the power of a positive mindset, and confronted the audience with the question of whether or not they have truly taken advantages of the opportunities available to them in a place like Cranleigh. Ultimately, Sophie asked her audience to approach their lives with honesty and resilience, two core traits she believes will garner a person’s success in life.  

Brandon G. closed the first half of the evening, speaking passionately on the dangers of artificial intelligence, and deep fake technology. Brandon’s argument was thoroughly researched, and even led him to dive into the dangerous waters of AI himself, creating his own manufactured footage of Vladimir Putin. Brandon expertly guided the audience through the terrors of this new world, and warned of the personal violations we are all vulnerable to in this new era of technology.

Pupil speaking at the 'Dangerous Minds' competition
Pupil speaking at the ‘Dangerous Minds’ competition

After a short interlude, Lauren B. took the stage to defend the importance of disobedience; Lauren championed the value of original thought, and challenged the audience to think critically when presented with homogenous ‘truths.’ Lauren’s message was bold and brave, and was delivered with characteristic precision.

The penultimate speaker, Zoe G. made her Dangerous Minds debut with zeal. Undoubtedly, Zoe’s speech will provoke further discussion amongst the audience and pupils, choosing to focus on one of the most divisive and talked about figures in popular media, at the moment: Andrew Tate. Zoe’s systematic dissection of Tate’s character was done with maturity and grace; Zoe acknowledged Tate’s ubiquity and his appeal, while assertively concluding that his influence is universally a negative one. It was a truly impressive debut from such a new member of the Cranleigh community.

Finally, Charlie M. rounded off his Dangerous Minds career with a speech that questioned the very principles of the competition; he considered the tagline, eight minutes to change the world, and presented the audience with three core principles with which to achieve this ambition: love above all, dream big, and never give up. Charlie’s argument was inspired by three world changing figures, whom to Charlie embody these three lessons. From Jesus of Nazareth, to Martin Luther King Jr, to Greta Thunberg, Charlie inspired the audience with inspirational tales.

Headmaster Mr Martin Reader had the rather gruelling job of determining the winner, but ultimately decided that Charlie would take home the Henry Hunt trophy for 2023. Mr Reader noted: ‘Charlie best understood the brief of the competition, and his speech stood out for its clever simplicity, and eloquent delivery.’

See Cranleigh School’s online listing here.