St John's Lutheran School Year 8 virtual debating team; Winston Liesegang.
St John's Lutheran School Year 8 virtual debating team; Winston Liesegang.

Virtual comp ‘revolutionised’ how St John’s teaches debating

ST JOHN’S students have been challenged by competing online in a virtual debating competition, proving rural schools aren’t always disadvantaged by their location.

Jodie Springhall, St John’s English middle school teacher said the virtual debating competition had revolutionised the way she teaches debating at the school.

“It’s really fantastic,” Ms Springhall said.

“Even though we’re isolated here it gives us the opportunity to be competing against schools all around Australia.

“It’s really high quality competitions too – it’s all private schools. From Canberra Grammar through to near Normanton.

“So it’s a real cross-section of schools.”

Ms Springhall said the main appeal was to compete against a really high standard of debating competition.

“It gives us that ability to compete at a really high standard that just isn’t available here,” she said.

“And they get to do this without even leaving the classroom.

“I wish something like this had been around when I was in school. It just opens up so many opportunities for our students.”

Despite being somewhat more testing, Ms Springhall said without an opportunity such as this, her students wouldn’t be engaging with such topical issues in the same way.

“The topics they are given are just so diverse and relevant,” Ms Springhall said.

“Luckily they are given time to research before the debate. Different age groups get different amounts of research time.

“Because otherwise they would really struggle. I’m always telling them if they want to do well they need to stay up to date with the news.

“But at least this is a fun way for them to learn about current news issues and current affairs.”

The debate competition has been running as one loss and the team is out, however there is then another competition for the losing teams.

Ms Springhall said this extra pressure is exactly what her students needed to debate at their very best.

“It’s all very challenging. Especially since they are up against other more experienced debaters. But it’s such great skills they are developing,” she said.

“In terms of thinking on their feet, researching, team work, critical thinking, and much more.

“They really have to talk it out as a team and then divide and conquer.”

Ms Springhall said she has hopes to introduce the debating to some younger year levels, next year.

“The earlier they start the better they can be,” she said.

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