20 students from Years 7-9 attended the Debating Training Day at the University of Sydney in February. They were accompanied by Mrs Glassock, Mrs Henderson and Mrs Gardner. We asked one of the students who attended for a report.
Soon after we arrived, we were called into one of the lecture rooms where we assembled with the other schools. After that we broke up into groups, Years
7-8 were together learning the basics of debating, including topics such as how to structure your speech. Years 9-10 were in an intermediate seminar.
The seminars were really helpful, and the basic one that I attended had quite a relaxed vibe; not one that you would usually expect from a group of
teens who are about to be competing. It felt quite non-judgemental which was good and helped a lot of people to share their opinions and questions.
After the seminars we had a quick break then walked to another part of the campus where we were split up into different rooms depending on who we were competing against for the prepared debate. The Covenant Year 7 and 8 teams were against each other as we had never done debating before. The Year 9's were against Merrylands. We were given the topic "We should ban the eating of meat" the week before, so we got straight into it. The Year 7's were affirmative and the Year 8's were negative. After a tense debate with both teams making excellent points, the Year 7's won.
After lunch, we began the impromptu debates. The Year 7 Covenant team was against the Year 8 Covenant team again, and the Year 9's were against George's River. We were given the topic “Contact sport should be banned for children under 18”, and were given half an hour to prepare. Half an hour seemed like such a short time, but with the help of the other team members who were not speaking in the impromptu debate, we finally had most of our speeches ready. The debate made us all nervous, even in front of friends and I think we were all glad that we were up against another Covenant team, not another school. After another tight debate, Year 8 were declared the winners.
Unfortunately we were not able to see the Year 9's debate, but they did extremely well and won both of their debates. The debating excursion to the University of Sydney was loads of fun and an excellent experience. The excursion has helped me to better understand my roles in debating and how to structure an argument. I learnt so much and strengthened bonds with other students from Covenant.
Caitlin Stewart (Year 8)