Yesterday, we – I, another twelfth-grader, two eleventh-graders and a tenth-grader – got to go to a debating contest in Leiden. It was a contest between all schools of my type of school (Gymnasium we call it, it’s like grammar school in the UK). There were three different sorts of debate: the address, where you had to do a eulogy or a satire on a given word (eexamples were teacher, Sponge Bob, poetry, ethics), the argument, where you had to completely criticize another’s text (a text by Rousseau was an example), and the triad debate, where three people are in each party (supporters, opponents, and judges) and have to debate about a statement. I participated in the triad debate. The first time, we were the jury, which is quite an easy job. You have to analyse what each other party says and motivate why you say that one party has won the debate. The statement was: “Privatization in education leads to an increase in quality.” Then the next time we were supporters of the statement that sending SMS messages by phone increases one’s language skills. We did fairly well with that debate, and the one who had to grade us complimented me on my good response to our opponents’ arguments. I was the second one to speak, in which round you have to refute your opponent’s arguments, which I’m quite good at. Unfortunately, she couldn’t keep from saying that she found it good that I could respond to my opponent without having taken notes of their statements, which led me to think she didn’t mean what she said: it’s totally logical that I just memorize what’s being said (I don’t have a notetaker), and I have no problem with that. The third debating round was very difficult. It was about the statement that keeping grammar schools promotes segregation. We had to oppose the statement, and that was quite difficult, and unfortunately the people who graded us were not too eager to give high scores – they totally praised one party and still gave them only 59 of 100 points.
Jelle, one of our students, won the address contest. In the final round, he had to do an eulogy on the word “teacher”, which was really good and also brought with such conviction. I later heard he won the final round from the person who had won the contest last year. The girl who had to do the argument for our school, was second in her group, but not good enough to reach the final round. And as for us, I don’t think we did a horrible job, but it could’ve been done much better.