JUNIOR NOVICE DEBATE SOARS THROUGH THE FINISH LINE
By Carissa (Nikkel) Balcaen ’02, Faculty
While the weather was warming up, so were the Grade 7 students who participated in Junior Novice Provincial Debate on June 3, 2021, which was the last tournament of the 2020–2021 debate and public speaking season. The students dedicated many hours developing arguments, researching evidence, and analyzing the impacts of mandatory social studies classes in high school. This topic was especially timely as the harms of residential schools were simultaneously being discussed following the discovery of the remains of Indigenous children at the Kamloops residential school site.
Students identified the common themes of learning from our mistakes, using triumphs as a guide to future decision-making, the maturity of the learners, access to elective courses, the evolving nature of the news, and teaching bias as the basis to build their salient arguments.
All our students focused on the impacts of social studies by explaining both sides of the resolution: “This house regrets making social studies a compulsory course.” Unique to a debate with the key term “regrets” is the need of the proposition to eliminate social studies altogether or the opposition to not place as much emphasis on the course for all years of high school. Of course, this was challenging because our students noted that having an awareness of what is happening in the world and understanding numerous perspectives while being aware of cultural biases is extremely important in our society today. Our students must be commended for their maturity in handling this challenging topic with empathy, resilience, and incredible critical-thinking skills.
Here are a few of the comments that our students shared following the tournament.
“I’m really pleased that I was able to refute most of their arguments.”
“The other team was really strong; however, I was able to stand my ground and give real arguments with evidence and examples.”
“I improved because I did not use words including “um” and “like” to fill my time. I just used pauses.”
“At one point, I got a little confused about the argument I was presenting, but I recovered and kept going.”
Congratulations to participants Alexa, Elly, Emily, Kerry, Lauren, Rana, Ryleigh, and Zara.