ADC’s Schools Invitational Debating Competition is in full swing for its second successful year

The inaugural success of the Australian Dispute Centre’s School Debating Competition placed the competition in great stead for another year of building relationships, convincing arguments and a lot of fun. The competition runs from July to September as one of ADC’s corporate social responsibility initiatives and provides the opportunity for all to hear the future voices of reason. The invitational schools of 2015 are Ascham School, Alexandria Park High School, Burwood Girls High School and Christian Brothers Lewisham High School.

For six consecutive weeks, students with their supporting teachers spend their Friday evenings honing and developing their debating skills, under the guidance of experienced University debating coaches and junior lawyers (coaching on a pro-bono basis). Each Friday evening, six teams of debaters arrive to enjoy a generous buffet kindly provided by nearby cafes supporting ADC and its debating initiative.

The debating teams are made up of students from different schools. These mixed teams start with an intense coaching session with the young lawyers and University debating coaches. Just before 6pm, the three debates commence, considering the same motion undoubtedly from a variety of angles. The tumult of the audience subsides as the students take the floor, providing arguments born of contemporary teenage rationale, leaving even the most experienced adjudicators in awe. The evening is an exceptional opportunity for the students to build rapport with mixed school and gender teams, learn the importance of collegiality and competitive team spirits and have some fun!

The ADC’s School Debating Competition is an opportunity for students in year 10 to participate in a highly rewarding experience on Friday evenings. Debating has myriad proven benefits backed by decades of academic research. Debate provides experiences that are conducive to thought-provoking, cognitive, and public speaking skills. Participants in the competition acquire unique educational benefits beyond what would usually be learnt in their year 10 school setting. Among many other benefits, the students learn the importance of teamwork, logical reasoning, influence, analytical thinking, presenting skills, confidence and self-esteem.

At the very least, the competition helps students to see the power of deploying rational, reasoned arguments and compelling logic in action. It enables them to elucidate their standpoint through utilising rhetorical eloquence. It instils in the students a great sense of poise, confidence and conviction in their arguments. Students learn the skills of researching, organising, and presenting information in a compelling fashion, while learning how to rationally disagree with opposing arguments.

The first night of the competition took place on the 24th of July and was a lot of fun. The students have since taken to the debate in a great fashion. Nathan, a student at Christian Brothers Lewisham High School, said, “It helps you to broaden your perception by addressing different sides of an argument you wouldn’t normally have exposure to.” And Mia from Ascham School said, “I like that I can experiment as a debater ; I can focus on enjoying and learning and not be so concerned about winning or losing.”

In year 10, individuals are at an age where they’re beginning to grapple with the concepts of politics, society, justice and how the world works. Introducing them to a wide variety of debate topics helps to intellectually stimulate them and help them to become our future thinkers. Paul McCollum, teacher at Christian Brothers Lewisham High School, said it was a great opportunity for the students to mix with other schools. He further commented that it was “fantastic to see the more shy students having fun and finding a voice in a friendly competition”. Similarly, coach of the Ascham School, Beathea Todd-Hunter also appreciated it as “a great opportunity for the girls to build skills in a less competitive environment and to get great feedback –they are really enjoy it”.

ADC would like to thank all the participants for getting involved in this highly-rewarding competition and extend gratitude to school staff, Centre staff, cafe sponsors, volunteer coaches and adjudicators for their ongoing support of the ADC’s invitational debating competition.

By Mark Curry Intern at ADC and Paralegal at Clayton Utz