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IEGS Debate team competes at Swedish Nationals, ends weekend in the Novice Finals
By Courtney Slocum
Last weekend, 22-24 November, 13 students from IEGS represented the school in the Swedish Schools Debating Championship, or SSDC, at Stockholm University. SSDC is the annual national debate competition for Sweden and the event where students are chosen to try out for the national team. From the 13 students who attended, we were able to form three teams: two novice teams made of debaters who had never participated in a World School-style debate competition and one pro team made up of four experienced debaters and one novice. The teams were comprised of second and third year students who came from both the National Program as well as the IB. In addition to the students competing as representatives for the school, IEGS was also proud to have two former students serving as chief adjudicators to judge various matches of the competition.
Over the course of three days, all teams competed in six rounds consisting of three prepared motions and three impromptu motions. Prepared motions were released to the debaters ahead of time, allowing them to research and develop arguments for both sides before arriving to the competition where they were assigned the team against whom they would debate as well as their position of proposition (in support of the motion) or opposition (against the motion). Impromptu motions, on the other hand, were announced at the same time as the opposing team and their respective positions. This announcement comes just one hour before the debate begins, forcing teams to quickly develop arguments and speeches without outside assistance or technology.
The motions were as follows:
Round 1 (impromptu): This house would ban political advertising on social media.
Round 2 (impromptu): This house would give eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 30 two votes.
Round 3 (prepared): This house would aggressively limit companies’ ability to replace labor with technology.
Round 4 (impromptu): This house would introduce educational streaming starting in middle school.
Round 5 (prepared): This house believes that people who destroy property in the name of advancing social justice causes (ex. protecting the environment, resisting institutionalised racism in policing, etc.) should be given a mitigated sentence.
Round 6 (prepared): This house supports the decline of the USA's influence in foreign affairs.
These six debates, preparation time, and related activities made for a long weekend with Friday’s events starting after school at 15:00 and ending at 22:00 followed by an 08:00-20:00 schedule on Saturday and an 08:00-18:00 schedule on Sunday. Despite the long and rigorous days, all the students performed incredibly well and were able to resume studies as normal on Monday morning. With the final results, the pro team had three wins, one novice team had three wins, and the other novice team had one win. Truly an impressive score card by all accounts.
Unfortunately, the pro team did not make it into the quarter-finals but, much to the dismay of the students, they were a mere two speaker points (out of a possible 100) away from cinching the 8th spot in the quarter-finals. Thankfully, our students also recognize and take learning opportunities which come with difficult situations and their frustration over a two point difference quickly subsided and was replaced with pride over coming so close and determination to do even better in the future.
On the other hand, one of the novice teams we took landed a spot in the novice finals and debated one additional match to oppose the impromptu motion “This house would ban zoos”. Despite it being the first time the three students on this team had been in a debate competition, they gave an astounding effort in front of a room crowded with observers. They did not come out of the finals with an additional victory as we all had hoped, but their sense of achievement over how far they came was very much deserved.
Additionally, two of our third year students, Daniela Tupan and Linnéa Nilsson, were selected to try out for the national team. The date for tryouts has yet to be announced but, if they are selected for the team, they will have the opportunity to compete in the International World Schools Debate Championship in Mexico City in July 2020.
Here at IEGS we have students who constantly persevere and show great determination, even when facing adversity and obstacles. Regardless of the final scores or ranking, the students all left Stockholm University on Sunday night with a high morale, supportive team spirit, and smiles on their faces. More importantly than the score cards, each student received a significant amount of valuable feedback from various people, including observers, judges, and students from competing schools. With these “grows” and “glows”, as they were introduced, the students will have the opportunity to continue to practice and develop before heading off to their next competition.
Looking forward, the team hopes to attend two more big competitions this academic year: one in Prague and one in Copenhagen. For now, the debaters will keep up their excitement, passion, and momentum through weekly practices, taking every possible opportunity to refine their skills.
For students who are interested in participating in the debate club, weekly meetings are held on Thursdays starting at 15:15 in room 4:5. Ms Courtney Slocum serves as the club supervisor and can be contacted for additional information.