Working internationally has given me opportunities that just didn’t exist for me back where I was born. One is the chance to debate. I remember doing a few debates in Sixth Form classes, but they never really went anywhere. I also remember turning up to a few debates in my university but, again, there wasn’t anything really organised.
When I first worked in Beijing, there were a few opportunities to take students to debate events. There were four tremendous students – I called them F4 – who wanted someone to take them to debate events. These events were intense , especially without training.
I also took part in World Scholar’s Cup – a worthy competition that prizes academic competition. Whilst there are criticisms of its cost and the nature of its prizes, it is still a great experience for both students and the school.
In my latest school the debate was reasonably well established. It was run by an interesting teacher who concentrated on pushing a select group of talented students. They won a series of regional competitions. However, the club would often trickle down to a handful of members near the end of term. It was often the case that we would find out what was going on a hour before the club started, which affected the mind.
Two years ago the debate club required a new leader. I took on this role and organised a few changes. This is where we are now:
DESC Debate Club 2018 19
DESC Debate Club in 2017/18 – position after year 1
Strong individual members
Experience and success in debates, especially in world scholars and in select teams
Well trained advanced debaters – five students in shortlisted UAE team squad
Success across senior and junior teams in Debate Dubai with wins every year since 2014
Regular membership of 40-50 students with occasionally 80
Student leadership at the heart of the club with three distinct positions and five administrative positions in total
Provides a fully-fledged programme of debating based on Sather’s Pros and Cons (Prime British Parliamentary Debate Book first published in 1895) with motions matching the standards of World School’s Debate standard
Hosted the Dubai Debate League Final December 2017
Provide weekly debate fixtures
Provide internal training and feedback every week, training staff and students in adjudication
Hosts three House Debate Competitions in school each year run by student leadership
DESC Debate Club aims for 2018/19
1)Aim to grow and keep membership (registering between 60 and 70 members each week so far, with a solid 20-30 regular members)
2) Provide feedback on OneNote where students contribute and offer notes and feedback
3) Sources more external Provide training for staff and students in adjudication
4) Pioneer Dubai’s first digital debate programme in conjunction with Cambridge School GEMs, ready for a league in the next academic year
5) Encourage DESC students to participate in public debates in front of sixth form and wider crowds as well as assemblies and other functions
6) Invite and host a Debate Mate training sessions in conjunction with other schools in the Dubai Debate League
Head of DESC Debate