Friday, April 03, 2009

Student Debates

Today is a very good day.

It was the KK District Student Debate Finals (All Saints vs Lok Yuk) and my student debaters wanted to go because they had caught the debating bug. Both the teams in the finals were pretty good - competent debaters but I believe that All Saints won because they were more polished and the motion was biased towards their side. Well, IMHO.

Motion : Science Is A Threat To Humanity
When I thought about this motion a few days ago, I had problems thinking of approaches for the negative. How do you prove that science is NOT a threat without talking about the benefits of science? Sure enough, the Lok Yuk team talked about benefits and the All Saints team fired back, saying that they weren't doing their job, which was to show that science is NOT a threat. And that's the dilemma for all debate teams who draw the negative side. You must be very careful to prove why the motion should be rejected, WITHOUT offering alternative points. Very dangerous oh...

And perhaps the Lok Yuk team knew this, which was why they came off as less confident than the All Saints team. I absolutely liked the All Saints' first speaker. He looked and spoke like Ian Michael Wong, one of my former students in La Salle. Cool and persuasive. Chindian looks...and language proficiency. Ya lah, I know not all Chindians speak with the words flowing off their tongues like water...but you have to admit quite a number do, especially those in urban areas. In Sabah, anyway. Both teams' second speakers were female and both did the reply. Reply speeches are very very important. That is the last opportunity for both teams to make their stand and emphasize their points. Many a shaky team has been saved by a powerful reply speech. And many a judge has had his/her mind made up by reply speeches. When I asked Fen Fen (she was squiring the St Francis Convent team) who she thought would win, she wanted to reserve judgement until all the three speakers had had their 8 minutes onstage. But I waited till the end of the reply speeches before I asked again. She looked at me, smiled and said,"All Saints." I believe she made up her mind after the Lok Yuk team's reply. I felt that the Lok Yuk speaker could have done better.

The government's reply was by a sweet-faced young lady. It was masterfully done but the analogy used was an old one - chess & checkmate :P

Personally I thought the first speaker from All Saints should've done the reply. With all due respect to my sex, males have the advantage of having low voices that give the impression of command. Sweet voices and higher registers just cannot compare. This is why when I have something serious and important to impart during my meeting, I deliberately lower my register.

The three SMKKL teachers (myself included) were able to bring a total of 14 students (9 Form Fours and 5 Form Threes) to SMK Agama Inanam for the finals and I was happy to see them mixing freely with the other debaters and exchanging numbers (I assumed this from the pieces of paper being exchanged.) It also helped that my debaters were a friendly bunch :) Mr Six Footer especially drew a lot of attention.

This year, SMKKL has established itself as a school capable of producing debaters worthy of attention. I am SO chuffed about that. It's also absolute proof that without effective teachers, students can't really do much. They need the guidance and the clearing of the way that teachers/adults can do. It also helped that this group of students were able to think on their feet. They just need more onstage time and more practice.

I want to see this school go far beyond all expectations... it will take time but I'm going to try my best to help it happen. Even though I'm leaving the school by the end of the week.

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