Wednesday, August 31, 2011

debating has taken over my life.

Year 5 debating. It's serious stuff.

We spent weeks preparing for this, our first debate. We were the affirmative team, arguing that we should not keep pets. Our puppy has been on edge all month as we've walked round the house talking about our plans to eliminate pet ownership in Australia. Many of us have spoken passionately about how wrong it is to domesticate animals, how it is unnatural, unhealthy and unfair to them and how it encourages us to view animals as toys rather than living creatures with rights and dignity. We had thought up a long list of good arguments that the negative team could throw at us. We had well thought out rebuttals to them all.

Thing didn't go quite as we expected. Our second speaker (who is brilliant in a perfectionistic way) was thrown by the fact that their first speaker didn't really make any points. He fell apart when he realised he couldn't provide any rebuttal, even though two rebuttal points were expected of him. With cuddles and affirming words he made it through his speech. Their second speaker spoke quite well, arguing that pets are fun. We hadn't thought of that... but our third speaker managed to cobble something together.

All a good learning experience. Joel did really well. It was hard work teaching him his speech. (Took half a pack of mint slice biscuits to achieve it.) This morning it wasn't looking good. Late this afternoon we decided to ditch the full script palm cards (since he couldn't really read them anyway) and made cards with a few words and lots of arrows and pictures. This worked. He got the 4 minute speech probably 80% word perfect and the rest he ad-libbed with style. I've always thought of Joel as quiet and unshowy. But he likes a stage as much as I do.

One debate down, three to go.


  1. I think I relate to your second speaker...I remember from high school debating that the prepared stuff was never a problem....but coming up with rebuttals and making them sound good...very hard work...
    And well done to Joel!

  2. Not really surprised considering you love a good..umm..discussion!

  3. A friend taught me something about public speaking that I have found useful to remember. Having a full speech written out on cards keeps your focus on the cards, not on what you're saying or your audience. Instead you should have a few points on the cards as reminders of what you intend to talk about so you don't forget something and then 'make it up' as you go - it does help to know your topic well for this.