As part of OSC’s nearly first ever debating team, I, along with my fellow teammates Ariana, Ika and Sanoj, set out to Elizabeth Moir on the 25th of September to tackle some arguments with other teams coming from schools all over Colombo. It was a strenuous experience for all of us as our team was not as familiar with this style of debating as the other teams present there were. Still, we managed to pull ourselves together and were able to put on a tough challenge for the opposing teams.
In our first debate, we were against Holy Family Convent, a prestigious Catholic girls school, opposing the topic of “Parents should have the right to implant GPS trackers on their children until they reach the age of majority”. Prior to the debate, we were given 20 minutes of preparation time where my team brainstormed a vast array of arguments including our own points and rebuttals. I decided to sit out during this one as the topic was comparatively simpler and I wanted my team’s 2 novices to get their first tastes of debate. Throughout the course of debate, I witnessed all the members of my team present excellent arguments backed-up by strong reasoning as well as strong rebuttals to the opposition’s redundant points. I could see the other team being unnerved because of my team’s assertive stance and confident speech. Despite our exceptional efforts, the debate was given to the other team for biased reasons set forth by the judge.
Our second debate consisted of taking the standpoint of “preventing climate change rather than adapting to it”. The opposing team from Gateway College seemed slightly more experienced than the first debate’s team. I participated as the 2nd speaker in this debate and knew that our points were not as strong as we would have wanted them to be. The debate drifted off-topic a couple of times. There were also several unnecessary accusations by both teams of what a speaker had or hadn’t said. At the end, the judge was quite disappointed by both teams’ performance and mentioned several areas of improvement. Each member of my team needed to focus more on presenting stronger arguments and rebuttals. These 2 main features may give us an edge during any debate. The debate was once again given to the other team, however, the reasons this time were, to some degree, clearer.
Personally, I need more confidence during speaking, so that I can be more assertive and put forth my points more clearly. I often require many short pauses during my speeches right now in order to gather my thoughts. This will only improve with experience and practice. I also found myself carefully listening to the opposition’s points so that I could come up with some counter-statements. I believe that improvement in this area could help me strengthen my performance.
Overall, our team had maintained a positive attitude throughout the whole evening and that’s what matters. We may have not won even a single debate, but the time spent was worthwhile. Everyone walked away with more experience, that was going to help in the future.