Primary school debate club 1

Duration: 14:07

Transcript – Primary school debate club 1

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TONY DAVEY: OK, hey, primary school debaters. So, normally at this time of year, you'd be maybe heading to your first debate in the Premier's Debating Challenge, or heading to a primary debating workshop to learn a little bit more about debating. Unfortunately, both of those things can't happen right now, but we wanted to do something to make sure that you were keeping your skills up and continuing to improve as a debater for when things get back underway. So, we thought a couple of short weekly videos to help you learn new things each week, and practise a few skills, might be useful while you're locked away, waiting for school to get back to normal.

So we're going to put together a few videos that kind of have a skill of the week, where we talk about an aspect of debating just for a little while. We'll maybe give you some exercises to do as you go along. And then we'll do a definition a week. So we'll have a guest adjudicator, who's really, really smart, come in and do a definition to help you understand how definitions work.

And then, finally, we'll do a bit of a rebuttal exercise every week, and that should be kind of fun. We'll get to that later. So, that's what we're going to do for the next little while. Hopefully, you'll find these videos a little bit useful.

And this week, we're going to start just by doing a quick overview of all of the instructions and rules for a debate. Before we get started, whenever you are debating, most of you will remember, there are these three different things you're supposed to be paying attention to. So, there are these three M's that make up part of your performance. They're three M words that you've got to try to remember, and you've got to try to do each one of them well every time that you're in a debate.

So the first one of those M words is Manner, and Manner is just what you look and sound like in the debate. It's not the stuff you're saying. It's just what you look and sound like. Matter is the stuff you actually say. It's your arguments and your rebuttal, and I'm going to talk about that a lot in upcoming videos.

And the last thing you need to worry about is Method. That's the third M, and it basically just means the instructions for putting together a debate. It's all of the rules and all of the steps and all of the instructions you need to try to follow. And Method, or the instructions for the debate, that's the thing that we're going to just run through briefly today to make sure everyone's on the same page.

So the first thing you need to know about debating are the basic rules. The basic rules of a debate are that there are going to be two teams, and those teams are going to be called the Affirmative and the Negative. Sorry, I know this is obvious.

In a debate, the affirmative are the team that loves the topic and is like, yay, woo topic. This is the best idea ever, here are my reasons. And the negative are like, boo, I hate the topic. This is a terrible idea. Here are reasons it's a terrible idea. Each team gets to have three kids who take turns giving speeches, and then one extra kid who helps out by writing rebuttals and kind of helping think of ideas.

So those are the basic rules to a debate, but every one of those kids - from the very first person on the affirmative to the very last person on the negative - every one of them has a different list of jobs that they need to do. And that's what we're going to run through right now, all the instructions and jobs for a debate so that you know those basic starting steps to how to put together a good debate.

OK. So, the first affirmative speaker goes first in the debate, and they've got like five different jobs to do. Their first job is called Context. So, the first affirmative stands up, and their very first job is to tell us what the problem is in the world that the affirmative is here to fix for us today, by arguing for the topic.

The problem is that lots of debates start in a really boring fashion. Kids get up and they go, 'Hi, my name is little kid.' And then they tell you the topic and they say, 'The topic is this.' And then, very weirdly, they say, 'We, the affirmative, strongly agree with the topic.' And of course, the affirmative has to agree with the topic, so none of that is very useful.

The way we want you to start your first affirmative speeches is to first of all say, 'Ladies and gentlemen, there's a massive problem.' That's step 1 of doing a really good context. The next thing you're going to do is you're going to outline for us what is the massive problem that the affirmative are trying to solve today.

So what's the thing they're worried about? Why do they want to do this thing that they're arguing for in the topic? And then, step 3, they're just going to say, 'And that's why we're here today to debate insert topic here.' So, they won't say 'insert topic here.' They'll just say the topic again.

So, if the topic was that 'we should ban kids from using the internet', one of the biggest reasons we might do that would probably be because of cyberbullying. We're really worried about kids being cyberbullied online. So, you might begin by saying, 'Ladies and gentlemen, there's a massive problem. Primary school kids are being cyberbullied when they go online and it's having devastating impacts on them. That's why we're here today to argue that we should ban kids from using the internet.'

So, it's kind of just that simple. It's about thinking up what the biggest problem is that the affirmative is trying to solve and putting it in a little three-sentence package called Context. That's step 1 of being a first affirmative speaker.

The next step, step 2, is called Definition. This is where you explain for us kind of like what the topic means from your point of view, and you set up your plan to implement the topic. So, we're going to do a whole one of these videos, a whole lesson, on Definition later on. And also, every week, in about the middle of the week, we'll put out a video where a really great debating coach defines one of last year's most popular topics, and you can practise doing definitions with them then. But for now, that's job 2, define the topic.

Step 3 is called Allocation. That's kind of just a fancy debater way of saying you need to list off all of your team's reasons that they're going to give, and you need to tell us whether the first speaker is going to do one of those reasons, or the second speaker is going to do one of those reasons.

So, the best way to think of it is, like, you get to the front of a book and it's the chapter page for that book. It's like the table of contents. It tells you everything that's coming up and which chapter to look for it in.

Again, if you were doing that debate about banning kids from the internet, you might say, 'I'm the first speaker. I'll tell you that banning kids from the internet will solve cyberbullying. And I'll also tell you that when we ban kids from the internet, they end up getting more exercise. My second speaker will tell you that the internet is damaging peoples' social skills, and they'll also tell you that the internet causes lots of problems, like viruses and piracy.' So that's all you're doing. You're listing off the headings for your team's arguments.

The fourth job of the first affirmative speaker is to actually give their arguments. So, their job now is to explain, in detail, two or maybe three of their team's best arguments. That's their most important step. The last thing that that affirmative speaker has to do is they just have to go away. We don't really care how they end their speech. What matters is that they don't just stand there, slightly weird, staring at everybody and going, 'Why isn't anybody clapping?' They're not clapping because you're still standing there and they're not sure you're finished.

So, don't be that kid who stands there staring at the audience. When you finish, you want to turn around and go away, and everyone in the audience will burst into applause. Often, because they think you're brilliant, sometimes because they're glad you're finished, but at the very least, they'll be clapping. So, that's everything you need to know about what a first affirmative speaker does.

That took a while, but this is going to go a little bit quicker from here, I promise. The next person who stands up is the first negative speaker. First negatives also have five different jobs they need to get through. So, the first thing they need to do is they need to accept the other team's definition. They go like this, 'We accept the definition.'

It's a pretty silly step. Basically, what it means is whatever the affirmative said about their plan, the negative says, 'Yep, that's the plan we're fighting over today. Let's get into it and fight over it.' That's what they mean when they say 'We accept the definition.' Don't worry if it doesn't make too much sense. You can just say it and move on to step 2, which is Rebuttal.

In this step, you're going to have listened to all of the first affirmative's arguments and you are going to give us reasons why those arguments sucked, and didn't make sense, and are wrong. So, actually, what we're going to do is every week, we'll release a video late in the week where one of our best adjudicators and coaches looks back at a video from themselves, a video they did in a former state final, and they'll give themselves a bit of feedback, but also, they'll do some really harsh rebuttal against their old selves. So, you'll get a chance every week to look at and practise a little bit of rebuttal with some of the best coaches in the state.

OK, so that's step 2, Rebuttal. Step 3 is to do your own Allocation. The negative team have got those four or five or six arguments, and their job is to do their own chapter page at this step to explain who's doing which argument. So, they might say, 'I'm the first speaker. My first argument will be that the internet is really useful for kids when they're trying to do their homework and get a really good education.

I'll also tell you that when kids have access to the internet, they build their IT skills, and because they're more familiar with computers and the internet, they can get much better jobs in the future. My second speaker will be up later, and they'll tell you that the internet is actually a great way for young people to develop their social skills and build strong supportive networks of friends. And, they'll also tell you that when kids can use the internet, they find it much easier to relax and unwind, so they're happier kids.'

So, that's all they would say in their Allocation. All right, let's move on to step 4. The next job of a first negative speaker is just to do their arguments. So they're going to do their team's two or three very best, most convincing arguments. They're going to explain them with lots of detail. And their last job is the same as first affirmative - they're just going to go away. Get lost. Don't just stand there, it's strange.

All right. So, the first speakers are done. The next two speakers in the debate are called the second affirmative and the second negative. And the good news about these guys is they have the same list of three jobs, so there's no reason to write them out separately or think about them separately. We're just going to call them second speakers. These are the second people to speak on either the affirmative or the negative.

These people only have three jobs, super easy speeches. Their first job is Rebuttal. They need to attack all the ideas the other team has brought up and explain why they suck. Their second job is Arguments. They're going to explain whatever arguments are left in their case that need explaining. They're going to give the arguments that the first speaker said they would when they told us the allocation. And then, their last job, you probably guessed, is just to go away. Don't just stand there.

All right, so that's your second speakers. Third speakers are really, really difficult. The third affirmative and the third negative both do the same steps, but there are lots of steps they need to get right, so this might take a while. The first thing the third speaker does is to Rebut. So they're listening for the other team's ideas and they're attacking those ideas. The next thing they're going to do - it's a tricky one, you might not have guessed it - their next job is to do More Rebuttal. Even when they think they've done all of their rebuttal, they should do more rebuttal at step 2.

Once they're finished doing more rebuttal in step 2, their third job should be to do even more rebuttal, so they're really making sure they've rebutted everything that the other team has said. Once they've done even more rebuttal, it's probably time that they went on with something else, though, and that something else is to do an enormous amount more rebuttal. They should do a Rebutathon is probably the best way of putting it.

Obviously, that's going to take a lot of energy out of them, so once they finish with that rebutathon, then, of course, it's time to go on and do something else. That something else is ride the Rebuttal Shuttle. Ride the rebuttal shuttle as far as you can. That way, you'll have done an enormous amount of rebuttal.

If, by the way, your speech ended with you just doing rebuttal, we'd be totally fine with that. But once you've done a crazy amount of rebuttal and there is no more rebuttal you could possibly do, there is one last step a third speaker could do, and that is to very quickly recap all of the arguments that their team has given.

Basically, they're going to go like, almost like a back allocation. They're going to say the allocation, but in past tense. So they might say, 'OK, so my team told you that cyberbullying happens because of the internet, and they told you that kids needed more exercise and banning the internet would make that happen. My second speaker told you that when kids use the internet, they lose their social skills, and they told you they're downloading lots of viruses.' So that's all you need to do at that step.

Their last and final job, obviously, is just to go away so that everybody claps. And when the third negative has gone away, that's the end of the debate, and you know every single instruction you need to know to be part of a debate. Fantastic.

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