Mentoring gives Debating Fraternity an edge
The Christ Church Debating Fraternity enjoyed a successful year with senior and novice teams performing strongly – something Captain of Debating Hugh Edwards (Year 12) attributes to the strength of its mentoring programme.
Hugh, who began debating in Year 8, said the two Senior Year 12 teams enjoyed particular success in the Western Australian Debating League (WADL) competition, which involves over 30 schools from across the Perth. CCGS 1 made it to the semi-finals – losing only one debate along the way. Scotch, who beat them in the semi, went on to win the grand final.
Hugh said the final debate, on the topic ‘the Government should be able to make binding pre-election promises’, was particularly memorable. “It was a great, high quality debate. It was really challenging and showed the amazing talent there is at school level,” he said. He also noted that Academic Prefect Declan Davis was a particular asset to the team in this debate with his knowledge of politics and law.
CCGS 2 made it to the quarterfinals – a fantastic result, says Hugh, for smaller, less experienced team. “The two teams had a really different approach but both did well. Our team was very competitive while CCGS 2 really had a good time with it,” he said.
Hugh firmly believes that the success of the senior teams was due to the old boy mentors, Richard O’Halloran (2009) and Patrick McKenzie (2009), who came back to the School to offer their services. “They provided invaluable advice – we couldn’t have grasped (senior concepts) as well as we did without them or been so successful,” he said.
The mentoring system, introduced by Teacher in Charge of Debating Marguerite Crawford several years ago, runs right through the year groups. As part of their responsibility as senior debaters, Year 11s take on a mentoring role for novice debaters (Years 7 and 8) teaching the basics including structuring a team case, rebuttal and splitting an argument between speakers.
Senior mentoring (Years 11 and 12) delves into the new areas of impromptu debating, increased length of material, points of information and quick reply. “Mentoring in Year 11 was also really beneficial – it helps you as a senior as you gain as well from teaching others,” he said.
This year, the Novice teams showed they had a firm grasp on debating fundamentals with all teams winning debates and several winning most of their debates. One Year 7 team was undefeated in the qualifying rounds, winning their division and showing significant improvement each week.
Novice debating co-ordinator Phillipa Nock said the team won two finals against older and more experienced teams before being narrowly defeated in the semi finals. “The adjudicators commented on their maturity and skill as well as their ability to use humour in their presentations,” Mrs Nock said.
Hugh said debating had been one of the most rewarding experiences at Christ Church and he planned to continue the activity, which he believes ‘open doors’, at university.