Keep Calm and Carry On

Debaters acquire unique educational benefits ( Daily Bulletin By Vicki McLeod )

The International Rotary Club of Calvia has been organising the Inter Schools Debates Competition every year since 2016. Involving many of the international schools on the island it has become a fixture in the calendar for teachers and kids aged between 14 and 16. The most recent round of debates for 2019/2020 culminated in a grand final at the Palma Pictures studios in Marratxi just before lockdown began in March 2020 with the next scheduled for the coming academic year starting in Autumn.

And then, as we all know, life changed somewhat. Our kids were not at school and there were doubts about how they would carry on with their lessons let alone take part in a debating competition against other schools. Never the type of people to give up, the organisers of the competition, lead by Kate Mentink decided to try to plan a debating competition for the school year of 2020/2021. But how do you organise a debating competition during a pandemic? “With some difficulty”, is the answer Kate will give you, and I would add, with quite a lot of creative thinking.

But why make such a fuss about debating? Decades of academic research have proven that the benefits that accrue as a result of engaging in debate are numerous. Debate provides experiences that are conducive to life-changing, cognitive, and presentational skills. In addition, through debate debaters acquire unique educational benefits as they learn and polish skills far beyond what can be learnt in any other setting. At the very least, debate helps learners to see the power of deploying rational, reasoned arguments and compelling evidence in action. It enables them to elucidate their standpoint through utilising rhetorical eloquence. It instills in debaters a great sense of poise and confidence. It teaches them the skills of researching, organising, and presenting information in a compelling fashion. In general, the benefits of debate include:

  • Gaining broad, multi-faceted knowledge cutting across several disciplines outside the learner’s normal academic subjects.
  • Increasing learners’ confidence, poise, and self-esteem.
  • Providing an engaging, active, learner-centered activity.
  • Improving rigorous higher-order and critical thinking skills.
  • Enhancing the ability to structure and organize thoughts.
  • Enhancing learners’ analytical, research and note-taking kills
  • Improving learners’ ability to form balanced, informed arguments and to use reasoning and evidence.
  • Developing effective speech composition and delivery.

With all of these in mind, the Rotary Club determined to continue, and after landing a generous sponsor in the shape of the Asisa Health Insurance company they purchased some audio visual equipment to enable the debating teams to work together via a video conference the debates were scheduled and executed with flair. “We are delighted to be able to support the debates, encouraging young people to develop skills in communication, critical thinking and public speaking. All skills which are critical for building a strong society with human values. Congratulations to the Rotary Club for the initiative, those that have found praise worthy ways to keep their students engaged in the fundamental issues that are shaping our society today, and most of all, to the talented young participants”, said Jaime Ortiz Olmeda from Asisa Health Insurance.

At each debate, a member of the Rotary club is present waiting in the wings to present certificates to the winners and runners up. And presiding over all of the debates has been the vital role of timekeeper undertaken by Julie Brogan who runs the competitions from another location. The judges themselves are present on the video conference from their own computers and have a private conversation before announcing the results and giving constructive feedback at the end of each event.

So far six schools have competed in the competition with the debates being held in English, which is many of the competitors second language, making their participation even more impressive. In January 2021 the four semi finalists will go forward to debate again, and then the final will decide the winners for this difficult year. Congratulations to everyone who has participated, the schools, the students, their teachers, the Rotarians and the volunteer judges. If you want to participate in next year’s debates you can contact the Rotary Club on

21/10: Academy (against) v French Lycee (for)
“Men and Women cannot actually be equal”
Judges: Oliver Neilson, Graham Whitmore, Jackie Codd
Rotarians: Jan Ihden, Kathy Simmonds, Felicitas Ronning
Best Debater: Damian Bresnan Winning Team: Academy

4/11. BIC v Queens
“Religion no longer affects people’s daily lives”
Judges: Alison Tonge, Izzy Newman, David Tittle.
Rotarians: John Robbins, Gerdi Edtstadtler
Best Debater: Maria Lopez
Winning Team: Queens

11/11. Agora v Bellver
“Companies should be taxed on their carbon footprint”
Judges: Graham Whitmore, AlisonTonge, Izzy Newman
Rotarians: Saskia Porta, Felicitas Ronning
Best Debater: James Middleton
Winning Team: Bellver

18/11. Academy v Queens
“The refugee influx to Europe is inevitable”
Judges: Oliver Neilson, David Tittle, Izzy Newman
Rotarians: Jan Ihden, Gerdi Edtstadtler
Best Debater: Victor Ericsson
Winning Team: Queens

25/11. Bellver v BIC
“Monarchy as an Institution should be abolished”
Judges: Izzy Newman, David Tittle, Jackie Codd
Rotarians: Felicitas Ronning, John Robbins
Best Debater: David Dominguez Martinez
Winning Team: Bellver

2/12 Agora v French Lycee
“COVID 19 will change our vision of the world”
Judges: Graham Whitmore, Alison Tonge, Izzy Newman
Rotarians: Saskia Porta, Kathy Simmonds, Felicitas Ronning
Best Debater: Damian MacLean
Winning Team: French Lycee

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *