Meriden students selected to debate against the best of the best

1 September 2015

Two of Meriden’s top debaters, Emily Halloran and Zoe Whelan-Young, are busy sharpening their skills of persuasion ahead of the 2015 Representative Debating competition.

Held over three weeks in September, Representative Debating brings together the best debaters from four separate debating competitions as they vie for the title of NSW Champions. The four competitions represented are GPS (Greater Public Schools), CAS (Combined Associated Schools), CHS (Combined High Schools) and Archdale (administered by the Heads of Independent Girls’ Schools),

Now in Year 11 at Meriden, Emily and Zoe have competed in the Archdale Debating competition since Year 7.  Stellar performances in the Representative Debating trials secured both girls a place on the Archdale Representative team.

Zoe is honoured to be selected to the Archdale team.  “I witnessed the high standard of debaters during the selection trials, so I feel privileged to be part of the team,” she said.

“I’m both excited and nervous about the upcoming competition.  It will be more challenging than previous competitions because we are debating against the best of the best and the topics will be set at a high level. But it will be an excellent learning experience.”

One of the prerequisites of high school debating is being prepared to argue either side of an issue.

“An understanding and knowledge of current affairs is critical for debating, particularly at higher levels – so I am constantly watching the news, reading critiques and trying to gain a wide understanding of international and domestic events,” Emily said.

“I enjoy the mental stimulation of combining general knowledge, debating techniques and argument construction, all while on my feet in front of an audience.  It’s terrifying at times, but it is also the most fun part,” she says.

As well as helping young people to develop confidence, the skills learnt in debating benefit students both in the classroom and in their everyday lives.

After five years of debating, Emily has a long list of debating’s benefits.  “I have learnt how to comprehensively, quickly and persuasively construct an argument. I have to use logic, background knowledge, and an understanding of audience and purpose when debating, all of which I use for school and in day-to-day life. I have gained experience in 'thinking on my feet' which means I can draw logical conclusions more quickly, and understand the 'bigger picture' of things faster. This is especially helpful in a subject like History - where there is a wide scope of understanding needed, a lot of evidence to sift through, and it is necessary to draw your own conclusions.”

“Understanding how to construct an argument is critical for much of life, but particularly for school where I have to write essays to prove my point using logic, reasoning and evidence. Debating helps me when constructing arguments and essays for English and History - without it, my arguments probably would make a lot less sense!” Emily said.