What Makes a Good Debater?

Ella Sharman, Amy Oaten and Evlynn Biju

Interschool Debating is a vibrant competition that involves a wide range of state and private schools in Western Australia.  Many hundreds of teams meet on a Tuesday or Wednesday night throughout Terms 1 and 2 to debate their side of a topic and to ultimately compete in the Grand Final held in Term 3. This year, students from Years 9 and 10 were invited to join this co-curricular activity and we were able to enter five teams in the competition.

Our girls have debated against opposition from Aquinas College, Christian Brothers College, Christchurch Grammar, Iona Presentation College, and Fremantle College and have had a range of wins and losses since the first round of debates. We are currently waiting to hear if some Santa Maria teams will progress into the next stage of the competition.

The girls have found impromptu debating a new challenge, and with only an hour to prepare for the topic, it is certainly a skill that needs practise and a good deal of general knowledge and confidence! 

We asked some of the girls about their debating experience, here’s what they had to say.

What was your favourite debating topic?

Although I have experienced many debates, my favourite thus far would have to be Chequebook Journalism, and the ethical problems associated. We took the affirmative, stating the benefits of chequebook journalism. The negative team raised several relevant points stating chequebook journalism would not help society in any way. It was a close match; however, the negative team took the win. Although we didn’t score a victory, I still very much enjoyed this very modern and current media subject. It allowed me to discover more about just what is happening in the media, newspapers, and magazine business and allowed me to broaden my horizons regarding a topic I originally thought was very shallow. Rainy Guimbeau, Year 9

What do you enjoy about debating?

I really enjoyed being able to do something out of my comfort zone. Public speaking isn’t my favourite activity, but I still really enjoyed it! I also loved seeing the direction the debate would go, because you never know what’s going to happen in a debate, and it makes it really interesting. It was also nice to become closer to the girls on my team and form friendships with people from other schools. Evlynn Biju, Year 10

Do you prefer arguing for or against the debate topic?

I personally prefer debating against the debate topic, as it is always quite easy to find the negatives in things! I also like being negative because you have the chance to go against everything the other team has said and really enforce your points to build a stronger case. Ella Sharman, Year 9

What makes a good debater? What skills does a good debater need?

I think out of everything, a good debater needs to be confident. Just get up and give it a go, don’t second guess yourself. Something else is to be open to constructive criticism, you’ll be receiving a lot of it! There are always ways to build on your skills. Amy Oaten, Year 10

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