At the Western International School of Shanghai, we believe in providing a range of diverse activities and sports to enhance our students' learning experience. We encourage students to pursue their interests, develop their skills, take risks, and always challenge themselves to try new things.
The After School Activity Programme offered at WISS is designed to support our philosophy of education and foster lifelong learning.
The Debate Club is a unique After School Activity available to Secondary School students. The Debate Club entirely student-led and helps cultivate a myriad of skills necessary for success in school and in life beyond school. Through participation, students learn to build persuasive arguments and become more open-minded.
Sean, a Grade 9 student and the Head of the Debate Club at Western International School of Shanghai shares more.
This House Believes You Must Know the WISS Debate Club
Tell me... What is Debate Club?
Debate Club is a student-led After School Activity (ASA) where students uncover strategies, terms and notions used in a debate and often result in various rounds of logical argument.
Each week, the heads of the Debate Club decide on topics related to current events and members' interests to plan sessions before presenting the weekly topic to members. The team incorporates a variety of interactive activities to build a strong foundation for all debate participants.
Since many students this year were new to debate, we started the season with introducing basic debate structures and formatting, and as the debaters grew in skill, the difficulty of the topics grew in tandem.
As a club, we aim to inspire passion and confidence in public speaking and empower students to express their opinions and identities in today's society.
But... How do you Debate?
The WISS Debate Club uses the British Parliamentary (BP) Debate, one of the most widespread forms of debate, used by the British Parliament. In BP, there are eight debaters and a board of judges. Although there are only two sides to a topic, the eight debaters are split into four groups of two who compete against each other to present the most convincing argument.
Which factor makes the BP debate so challenging and engaging?
When debating against three teams, you must consider points against the opposing side of the motion, as well as make stronger points than the other team on your side. Each speaker will have 15 minutes to prepare arguments and five minutes to present their points. The judges will ultimately decide on a winner and provide constructive feedback to each debater.
To impress the judges with your arguments, it's important to communicate your points in a clear and organized manner. Be aware that opposing teams may challenge your arguments with counterarguments or Points Of Interest (POIs). These factors come together to create a lively debate atmosphere in Debate Club.
To be successful in debates, one needs to have strong knowledge of current events and critical thinking abilities. These skills are developed through regular participation in Debate Club, which provides a solid foundation for all members.
Skills... Which Approaches To Learning (ATLs) do you use in Debate Club?
Participation in the Debate Club is an excellent way for students to improve their communication skills and develop open-mindedness. During each session, you will be paired with different partners, which will challenge you to work together effectively to construct a strong argument. Moreover, you will need to be flexible and open-minded, as you cannot choose which side to take in a session, and you cannot predict others' arguments. This will encourage you to adapt to any hurdle that comes your way and embrace the saying, "I know that I know nothing," by Socrates.
Throughout the school year, our debaters have improved their oratory skills, becoming more confident in expressing themselves through verbal communication. As a result, arguments have been presented more logically, rebuttals have become more critical, and everyone has been more willing to communicate with one another. This was evident in the recent speech competitions, where all secondary WISS students participating in the Debate Club took the risk of sharing their thoughts in front of a larger audience.
Participating in the Debate Club also provides an excellent opportunity to engage with peers and interact with students from different grade levels. This can help you bond and share experiences with colleagues you might not usually talk to, creating a healthy learning environment.
In conclusion, the WISS Debate Club offers a fantastic experience for any learner and opens up numerous opportunities for everyone. Debating is a passion, but this door is always open to... Debate!
Contribution by Sean, MYP student and Head of Debate Club at the Western International School of Shanghai.
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