Interview with Junior School Debaters

Why did you choose Debating Club as one of your extra-curricular activities?

Diya: I chose the Debate Club as I have always wanted to join but I didn’t have time until the pandemic, I also joined to get better at public speaking and to get over some of my stage fright.

Simone: I chose debate club to be one of my extra-curricular activities because I enjoy debating and public speaking and because debating helps me practise thinking innovatively and outside of the box as well as building my capability to make meaningful links between ideas and important subjects. Debate has also taught me how to effectively think on my feet.

Kamal: I really enjoy debate club because it allows me to think quickly on my feet, practise my public speaking skills, and learn about different topics.

Maryam: I chose Debate Club because public speaking is very important in everyday life and debating is a perfect way to practise this skill. Also, learning the rules of debating can always be beneficial, not just for debating in a tournament but also when speaking with others about controversial topics.

Have you been able to apply some of the skills you have learned from Debating Club to your classes and/or to life off-campus? If yes, how?

Diya: Yes! Personally, I now am better at debating. I also now feel less nervous about presentations and speeches.

Simone: Though this year, due to coronavirus, I have not had too much of a chance to do public speaking or to socialize, my skills from debate club usually aid me when it came to speaking in front of audiences and meeting new people. Even this year debate club has helped me both on campus, while doing class discussions, and off campus, when meeting new people.

Kamal: Yes, debate club has helped me write more persuasive essays in English class. I am better at using words or sentences to make my argument stronger in an essay. I also think that during Public Speaking unit in English class, debate club helped me deliver a better story around my topic. Lastly, debate club helps with speaking in front of a crowd. Everyone gets nervous speaking in a big crowd but the more practice you have, the better you can manage your nerves.

Maryam: Yes, I have used the skills from debate in my day-to-day life. Debate club teaches you how to make a strong argument about any topic. I feel more confident discussing various topics through my writing and through public speaking. I am also much better at thinking quickly on the spot. When giving a six-minute speech about a random topic with only 15 minutes to prepare, you have to be able to come up with a strong argument quickly, even if you don’t agree with the side you are debating on.

What was one challenge and one success you encountered in preparing for and participating in this championship?

Diya: One challenge in the participation in this championship was making sure that my points and refutes made sense as I was slightly nervous. One success I encountered in preparing and participating in the championship is simply just how I got to experience my first debate tournament and got the privilege to debate many interesting people.

Simone: During the championships we debated with people from many different schools from across the province. This was an amazing opportunity, but it also made debating that much more difficult, as they were just as experienced as we were, and they came up with many unanticipated ideas. I feel that one success was the overall debate and what we learned from it. I can say with confidence that I am definitely a better debater walking away from the championships than I was before they happened, which is a success in itself in my opinion.

Kamal: One success story about participating in this weekend’s championship is the research we had to do beforehand. I really enjoyed researching on the topic of advertisement for children and whether it should be banned or not. The topic expanded my knowledge on how to argue on multiple sides of the story. The one challenge to debate championships are the impromptu rounds. In these rounds, topics are randomly picked, and we have to debate. You have 15 minutes to prepare an argument so it can be very stressful. However, the best thing to do no matter what side you are arguing is to have a sound and logistic argument for the judges and your opposing team.

Maryam: One challenge has been trying to prepare for the debate as best as possible, but this was difficult not knowing what your opponents are going to say or even what side you will be arguing. There are no right or wrong answers. The team with the best argument, wins.

One surprising success for me was how I was able to argue for six minutes during the impromptu rounds. I did not go overtime or under four minutes, 30 seconds.

If you could participate again in this competition, what would you do differently?

Diya: Overall, I had a great time and there isn’t much I would change; however, I would definitely make sure to mediate before the competition.

Simone: During the debate championships, some of the impromptu topics were related to things from history that I have not learned yet, such as the topic about the British monarchy. Because of this, it was harder for me to debate the topic. If I were to participate again, I would probably remember to pay more attention to current news before the tournament. Even though I love books, I read a lot of fiction and not much non-fiction, and topics related to the current news could be debate resolutions.

Kamal: I would certainly research more and read more about current topics happening around the world today. For instance, one of the impromptu I had to argue was “Should Canada abolish the monarchy?” The key to debating is to have general knowledge about world events.

Maryam: If I could participate in the competition again, I would most likely research on current events. This is because many of the impromptu rounds were based on what is going around the world now. This would allow me to have more knowledge on the topic and maybe make stronger points based on data.

How have you grown as a learner since doing debating?

Diya: I now think more logically, I have improved my public speaking. I have also learned how to ask good questions.

Simone: I have grown as a learner since doing debating. I have become more knowledgeable about the world and am better able to come up with more meaningful ideas overall. I have become more confident when it comes to presenting in front of my class, and in front of anyone for that matter.

Kamal: I’ve always been a curious person about things going on around the world. So, I ask many questions. However, I’ve never been really good at putting my thoughts together to express them. I think debating has helped me become more skillful in gathering my thoughts and communicating them in a more organized way.

Maryam: Yes, I have grown as a learner! I have learned many new skills, met many new people, and understood different perspectives on various topics.

Out of curiosity, has your involvement in Debating Club influenced what you would like to pursue later in university and as a career?

Diya: Personally, I now would consider getting a law degree and becoming a lawyer as I enjoy debating very much.

Simone: Though I don’t think debate would influence my choice of career later on in life, it is definitely an asset to have no matter what field I would choose to pursue, and I think it will make my experience in that career much richer.

Kamal: I know that being part of debate club and being able to have persuasive arguments about any topic will help me in university and in any career, no matter what I choose to do.

Maryam: I think that no matter what I choose to study in university, debate club will help me when I am researching a topic, public speaking, and even prepare for an interview for a future job.

What advice would you give to Grade 6,7, and 8 students interested in going to Debating Club?

Diya: I would tell them to try it if they are interested even if they are shy as debate club is very welcoming even if you’re a beginner as I was at the beginning of the year. Debate club also helped me get over some of my stage fright and anxiety before a presentation for school.

Simone: You should definitely join debate club! It is not only interesting, but it will help you to develop as a learner. Being part of debate club is an amazing experience. Debate club is an excellent platform where you can learn and make mistakes!

Kamal: Ms. Sinclair is the BEST! She really is a great coach for the debaters so to have the chance to work with her is such an amazing experience. Also, you will meet other people from the Junior School. You will learn from each other. It is just a fun experience.

Maryam: The one advice I would give anyone thinking of joining debate club in Junior School is don’t be afraid to speak up. There is no right or wrong answer. The more you participate, the more you will learn and grow as a debater.

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