I don’t know how you guys feel about debating, but I’m going to tell you about the time I decided to join the Debating Team when I was in high school. Our school had previously been known to be one of the best debating teams within the private school circles (talk about intimidation!) and towards the end of my years in high school, we began to lose that title. Obviously our teachers wanted to get the team back into good shape and asked previous debating students to reform their groups (as much as possible – considering people come and go towards Year 9-12).

I have NEVER debated in my life, but I decided, “What the heck! I get out of class for a couple of hours and all I really have to do is write down rebuttals.” I was obviously named the forth speaker. But when round one came, our third speaker was late to school and we could no longer wait for him, leaving my in an awkward position: I had to deliver the conclusion of our debate. I was not in the right form for this!!! I just wanted to get out of class! To make this story short we lost (I think it was my fault) and my team mate were a little bummed – but they were also frustrated because our adjudicator was a teacher from the school we were competing against and blamed it on favouritism (so not completely my fault).

So what did I learn from this experience?

  1. Prepare yourself for the “battle”: No matter what it is – exams, tests, essays, speeches, debates – KNOW what you’re talking or writing about. I was not at all prepared to speak that day, I thought I was just going to sit quietly and write little notes for my team mates to retort – but that didn’t happen, so I almost fell flat on my face.
  2. Expect the UNexpected: Just like we were surprised that the other school would use their teachers to judge our debate, you need to expect that there are some things you DON’T know. Information is so vast in the world that we can’t retain it all, so be sure to be familiar with AS MUCH AS YOU CAN. You’re not Superman (or Wonder Woman), but be sure that you’re prepared for what you dread the most.
  3. Keep CALM: I was not calm when I ended that debate. I lost my palm cards (only to find that my team mate had been using them to write rebuttals for me) and I was completely not in the right state of mind. If you’re calm in any situation you’re in, your head will be clear and be prepared for WHATEVER IS THROWN ITS WAY. So: Breathe. Read. Understand. Answer/ Execute.

I can’t guarantee ALL your battles in life will be victorious, but I can say that if you work hard within these battles, you’ll win the war.

– Anvie. J (S4S Coaching)

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