Long, long ago in the final days of the 2017 summer term, d’Overbroeck’s Years 7-11 students took part in an epic debating competition. Head of English, Rachel Thanassoulis filed this report:
Debating is a popular extracurricular activity throughout the school, including in the Sixth Form, and this final battle of words has become a traditional part of the school year’s conclusion.
Proceedings kicked off with a debate between Years 7 and 8, the former proposing the motion that, The younger generation are our best and only hope to solve the world’s problems. Scottie, Laura Cowan, Emily Poyser and Nieve Burgess drew on the current political enthusiasm for Jeremy Corbyn, as well as their recent study of Romeo and Juliet to suggest that the younger generation are better motivated and more compassionate than their parents. Against this, Bea Arden, Jonah Milnes, Dan Rose and Romany Harber pointed out the undeniable value of the older generation’s life experiences. Even these younger students are clearly on their way to becoming good debaters, supplying some good points of information and in the case of Dan and Jonah, speaking confidently and cogently with few notes. By a show of hands, the year 8s triumphed in this debate.
The motion which Years 9 and 10 battled over was simply Power Corrupts. Having studied Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, Of Mice and Men and 1984 between them this year, the students had much by way of literary ammunition. Many of them are also keen historians, and drew on their knowledge of Stalinist Russia; Alex Pryce (Year 10) also cleverly tried to persuade us of the benefits of benevolent dictatorship with exemplification from Ancient China! He was skewered, however, by Rose Poyser (Year 9) who needs a special mention for her incisive and calm delivery of killer points of information. Clara Nicolson, Ruth Balhetchet and Rachel Rofman completed the line-up for Year 9, with Max Ozden, Alex Tselos and Jack Perrett for Year 10. The quality of research and speech writing from all of the students was very good and Clara Nicolson’s linking of psychopathy to leadership was particularly memorable. In this hard-fought contest, the Year 10 boys were lucky to pip the girls at the post.
The final debate saw our Year 11 debaters return to battle against an enthusiastic – but rather exhausted! – staff team, comprised of Joe Swarbrick, JP Davies, Sarah Shekleton and Matt Meyer. The motion (which the staff were opposing) was, Teachers are a necessary part of the 21st century education system. Sarah argued persuasively that teachers are completely unnecessary, citing an incredible experiment showing how uneducated children in an Indian slum taught themselves with a laptop and no adult input (ref: https://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_shows_how_kids_teach_themselves#t-633005 ).
JP agreed, suggesting that technology was making the role of the teacher redundant. Little did he know, however, that Ellen Beaufoy had constructed a prototype of ‘JP version 2.0’ (otherwise known as ‘geogbot’ – see photo!), from cereal boxes and tinfoil. Was this what students had to look forward to interacting with in the classroom of the future, she wondered? Ed Field and Juliet Child emphasised the need for order and human interaction in school in compelling (and very touching) ways, whilst Liv Robinson berated JP for his hypocrisy (a sign in his classroom states that he feels even textbooks are no replacement for human input!). Unfortunately, the teachers did not have a leg to stand on and were roundly defeated by the Year 11s.
It was a rousing and fitting end to this very busy half term. And I may have accidentally kicked over geogbot whilst distributing the prizes…