Posts Tagged ‘Debating’

Debating Contest

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.


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Yes, I know I haven’t written in almost three months and the last time I told you what happened was in April. Whoopie, I don’t know if I can tell you everything that happened in between right now, but I’ll have a try.

In the last months of 10th grade not very much happened: I went to the Model European Parliament (students playing the Europarliament) from May 12th to
16th. It was very cool, cause I really love debating. At first, it didn’t seem very cool, cause my geography teacher, who’s in the organisation of the MEP, was very worried about me due to my blindness. I was expected to address the potential problems to him, which I still don’t think of as logical: did I see any problems? But eventually I asked the teacher about it and then he was very laconic, so I decided addressing potential problems was his concern. The MEP itself was really wonderful, cause the Gymnasium Apeldoorn (my school) group was cool, the family in Arnhem that took me and some other people in their house for the week was wonderful, and I enjoyed the debate. I was in the External Relations commission I, which debated the EU’s role where it comes to undemocratic states. That was really an interest of mine due to the war on Iraq, so it was very cooool.

A few days after MEP my computer crashed. I used my old computer for a few days and after that, half a year of work appeared to be gone on my normal one, because the last backup was performed on December 23, 2002. I really hate it and the worst may be that I lost some school work I might need next year on my exam (ie. my English book report). That would be a big problem! *Scared*

The social skills issue (typical 4th form aka 10th grade topic) continued with my teachers filling out a frustrating list of so-called social skills on how well I applied them. They seemed to have a somewhat different view than they had in November (when they had to fill in the thing as well). I feel my “not so close friends” the social skills really suck, cause I don’t understand how to apply them in an endless number of situations, except for the ones I should apply in each situation (facing people, and uhm, what else?). Not that I don’t forget to face people – in fact, I forget it all the time -, but anyways. It’s quite frustrating, cause I know the 16 sentences, so why can’t I apply them??? I’m intelligent enough, ain’t I?

Also the issues about a possible ASD continued. Volkert van der Graaf, who killed famous politician Pim Fortuyn in May 2002, is said to have Asperger’s, so very much fuss has been going on about him and therefore about everything ASD related. This was in the beginning of July, a time in which I had great difficulty with all this. I would watch the 8-O’clocknews stating Volkert “doesn’t suffer from the autistic Asperger’s Syndrome” and I felt very strange. On a news programme a person with an ASD (has PDD-NOS but was called Asperger’s) was interviewed and I really had to watch that. It felt quite strange: this is something I assume I have???

Later that month, I went to International Computer Camp in Switzerland. It was very cool as long as I avoided the Dutch tutors. “If you need it, you should ask for help,” didn’t match well with his pushy behaviour to make me do things I couldn’t. I really felt inferior to the rest of the Dutch group, which was just not why I had come to ICC. But in a few days I realized I could still make friends with other people etc. Now I think Eric (the most pushy Dutch tutor) just treated me the way normal blind teens are or should be treated: be helpful when really needed, but don’t be too protective. Eric is cool in other ways, though: he taught amazingly about the braille notetaker and let me feel a toad cause I’d never done so (he’s a biology teacher). And of course I’ve known throughout ICC that the dislike I had of the way I was treated was purely my problem and part of what has been my problem for a long time.

After ICC, I for a while stopped nagging about ASDs. I was blind, I had a bad attitude towards that, and blind people are always delayed in social skills development. Right now, I’m still on some ASD groups etc. and really recognize it, but I don’t define myself as much as an Aspie/Auti as I used to.

OK, this was a short description of the most important things that happened until August. I’ll tell you about my experiences in the 5th form (aka grade 11) the next time.

Take care!

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