College – Issue 39

NEWS & EVENTS Verbally outwitting your opponents

Verbal gymnastics, vocal contests, skilled arguments. Debating provides all of them, and calls on its participants to exercise mental agility, reasoning, eloquence and humour, in equal parts.

The College’s debating club is in good spirits with about 30 boys meeting each week to challenge themselves in moots, and to learn the general principles of the discipline and receive training and mentoring to hone their mental and verbal abilities. With seniors leading the charge, these boys spend the time on Friday afternoons encouraging and mentoring the juniors – and coming up with the moots for their debates. “We’re really lucky to have such a strong senior team with people like John-Paul Lay, Angad Vraich, Jamie Yee and Callum Hackston displaying really sophisticated talent,” says Sian Evans, MiC Debating. Those four were awarded Debating Honours’ Ties at assembly in August. On Tuesday evenings a coach comes in from University of Canterbury to help the boys, and on Thursday afternoons club members participate in inter-school debates through the Canterbury Schools’ Debating Council. In addition, there are senior and junior interhouse tournaments, not forgetting the annual, much enjoyed Student v Staff debate.

“The thing about debating is that it’s one of the best things you can do to challenge yourself mentally,” says Sian. “It’s about thinking on your feet, analysis, cutting to the essence of an argument, and it features a level of style of rhetoric and wit, a theatrical element, if you like.” And that’s what is appealing to many members of the club, she says. “I’ve noticed a definite correlation between debating and good essay writing, because debaters can structure their thoughts well and are very good at analysis and explanation.” Not surprisingly a lot of keen debaters end up studying law; and many politicians and local government personnel were debaters in their formative years.

The level of confidence gained from being able to collect your thoughts, structure your argument and stand up in front of an audience and articulate well, is inestimable. “And of course, a large part of what makes a good debater is responding to feedback. To be really good, you have to be able to take feedback and be willing to learn and change and grow.” College has enjoyed great success this year with its debating teams in local and national contests, including during the lockdown for Covid-19, when boys still competed in online debates. The weekend before lockdown, at the Canterbury Regional Tournament, the College Alpha team placed second to St Margaret’s College; Jamie Yee and Callum Hackston were selected for the

Christ’s College Canterbury


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