Frequently Asked Questions

Debating

What is debating?


When we say ‘debating’ we are talking about a formal discussion between people who disagree over important ideas.

Each team takes one side of the argument, and attempts to convince the audience they are correct. This does not necessarily reflect the speakers’ actual beliefs – it’s like a court of law, except it’s an idea being prosecuted and defended instead of a person.

All the relevant issues and the problems with them are examined calmly and logically, allowing people to then make informed decisions. In this way, debating can change things in a family, a school, a community, a country, or even the world.

When many people hear debating, they may think of cut-throat, competitive arguments or what you hear in politics. Rise & Shine Debating is nothing like that! We think of debating as the art of convincing through friendly, positive and logical argument.




Who can do debating?


Debating has traditionally been considered an elite activity. It conjures up images of preppy uniforms and ivy-covered exclusive private schools. Traditionally, debating has been a skill taught in high school in the U.S as an extracurricular activity, useful for college applications.

Here in Australia, where debating has not the history that it has overseas, we have been free to create a far more inclusive program that caters for all students, including those with lower literacy skills, students who have issues with attention and focus, as well as a challenge for gifted students.

HIGH ENERGY STUDENTS

Managing high energy students becomes about allowing movement, lively interaction and the free flow of ideas. Framing debating as an exciting challenge, finding topics of interest to students who often have trouble focusing, allowing for physical activity, incorporating games, working in teams and allowing students to work verbally and focus less on writing are some of the techniques that work well to include high energy students.

By making debating sessions interactive, we can include children who sometimes struggle to sit still for long periods. Over the years, we’ve found that many such students aren’t actually “disruptive” but in fact bursting with energy that they struggle to contain. By acknowledging their interactive learning style, we validate their ideas, their strengths and their contribution and often students respond to that approach by being keen to participate and have a go.

STUDENTS WITH LITERACY CHALLENGES & ESL STUDENTS

Low written literacy skills can present in any classroom situation and in our experience this shows up as unwillingness to write and record ideas. This does not mean the student does not have ideas. Often the opposite is the case and they have a lot of ideas but a lack of ability to record them. Other ways of recording and writing can be explored with students who have literacy challenges.

Sometimes we find that students with poor literacy skills may make up for it with charisma, personality and a natural ability to speak well, when they are supported to share their ideas without having to rely heavily on reading from detailed notes. We have had students in the past who have delivered award-winning debate speeches from a one-page mind-map. Debating does not rely on literacy - there are always ways to include students if the teacher is creative about finding ways to help students shine in their own way.

Even students who are still learning English can participate in debating. It’s just a matter of helping them record their ideas in a way will work for them, or adapting the requirements, such as having them speak for a short time or share a speaker role with another student.

GIFTED & TALENTED STUDENTS

Teaching students who are highly literate, skilled at speaking and or researching becomes a case of challenging their thinking on the topic, extending their arguments, supporting them to work on strategy, encouraging them to support weaker team members and showing them higher level speaking and arguing techniques.

As with any teaching situation, firm but caring direction and guidance, encouragement and praising their successes works wonders. We find that with a belief in a student’s abilities and a commitment to acknowledging the specific skills and strengths of each child, students are able to achieve far more than one might think possible.




What are the benefits of debating?


FUTURE-PROOFING

The World Economic Forum reports that adults will likely need the ten skills listed below to thrive in the workplace in 2020:

· Complex problem solving

· Critical thinking

· Creativity

· People management

· Coordinating with others

· Emotional intelligence

· Judgement and decision making

· Service orientation

· Negotiation

· Cognitive flexibility


Debating helps students develop these skills and supports them to be ready to tackle whatever challenges come their way.

LEADERSHIP SKILLS

Debating provides the opportunity for students to develop important leadership skills such as those needed in public speaking, teamwork, communication and being able to argue a point of view in a positive, calm and logical manner. Debating helps students to consider different perspectives and ideas and teaches students how to stand up for something they believe in, how to have their voice heard and how to share their ideas with others.

SOCIAL SKILLS

Debating is often referred to as a “team sport” because students work in teams. Usually when a debate is adjudicated, the team will receive a score as a whole rather than as individuals. As such, it’s important that team members learn to help and support each other to improve the performance of the team as a whole.

Debating teaches teamwork and collaboration skills. Furthermore, students learn to negotiate with each other, discuss and resolve differences of opinion, make decisions as a team, solve problems, ensure that everyone’s ideas are heard, develop accountability as a team and learn to communicate well with others.

THINKING SKILLS

At the heart of debating is a dedication to thinking logically and critically. Students need to question the information and sources they find, explore different aspects and perspectives of a topic and seek ways to argue a particular point of view. Students also need to look for logical fallacies and flaws in the arguments of others, to back up their opinions with evidence and to rebut opposing information.

Debating also provides a surprising number of opportunities for students to think creatively – in coming up with ideas relating to their topic, in making their presentations interesting and effective, in ways to be persuasive and more. Debating is a wonderful activity for developing strong minds!

REAL-LIFE LEARNING

Debating programs offer students a way to have their ideas and voices heard in a whole new way. Students become deeply engaged when they are debating topics that are relevant to them, are topical in their communities or that may even lead to some kind of real change. Students can be involved in debating a local issue and then using their research to write letters to the editor of a newspaper or to local politicians. They could also debate decisions that affect them as students, class or school community members.

Debating topics that students care about often lead to students developing ideas about ways to improve a situation or make a difference. A debate in front of another class, parents or another school is a real experience that can be very exciting for students and it is great preparation for situations where they may have to speak in public about something.

INTEGRATED LEARNING

Debating can be integrated into a class program by choosing topics that relate to a current area of study or to the students’ interests. This means that students are researching their debate topic for the purposes of a debate rather than for tasks with no real-world application.

Here are just a few of the skills involved in debating that cross a variety of subject areas:
· Digital and manual research skills

· Learning to find evidence to support an argument or position

· Learning to identify credible sources of information

· Finding and interpreting data

· Reading and summarising information

· Creating summaries or dot points

· Considering different perspectives on a topic

· Using technology for research

· Structuring a talk or essay (how to write an introduction, conclusion, points, examples)

· Collaboration and teamwork skills

· Public speaking skills

· Developing confidence in working with others and communicating ideas

· Learning how to speak or write persuasively

COVERING THE CURRICULUM

Debating covers many curriculum outcomes from the learning areas of English and Humanities & Social Sciences in particular. Specific outcomes that are covered are shown in Section 6 of this handbook. Debating topics can also be crafted to include outcomes from Mathematics, Science, The Arts, Physical & Health Education and Technologies.

NAPLAN & HIGH SCHOOL PREPARATION

Debating can be an excellent way of helping students to prepare for the persuasive writing section of NAPLAN testing, as well as learning how to structure their thoughts and writing in other areas. Students learn the skills of persuasive writing through an activity that is much more engaging, collaborative and hands-on.

Many schools now are finding that introducing students to debating in Year 6 is also a great way to help students prepare for high school where they will encounter more tasks such as essay writing and independent research. A debate essentially has very similar components to an essay and many teachers are finding that students who have participated in debating programs in primary school have an advantage in tackling the academic work of high school.




What age is debating suitable for?


People often consider debating as a high school activity – or perhaps the domain of politicians! Rise & Shine debating however, provides debating programs for Years 5 - 7 students, as well as capable Year 4 students and high school students. We introduce students to the skills of debating in a way that is appropriate for their age and stage of development.

When teaching debating to primary school students, we don’t expect a high school level of thinking or performance. We also take the emphasis off competition, so that rather than worry about who wins a debate, students are free to focus on learning and growing.

Rise & Shine debating is about providing support for students so that they can achieve at their current level. Teachers and mentors are encouraged to offer students as much help as they need to be able to participate fully in the process of preparing and presenting their debate.




Is debating a purely academic activity?


No! Far from it. The Rise & Shine approach to debating is designed to be practical rather than theoretical.

All students are supported to participate at their own level and rather than competing against each other. Debating coaches are trained to recognise the different talents each student has (charisma, comedic talent, passion for the subject, research skills, leadership and so on) and encourage them to use these talents in their debate.

Allowing students to work on topics that are meaningful to them or that they are passionate about is another way that debating makes learning engaging for students and takes it beyond the realm of something purely academic. Working toward presenting a convincing argument on something you feel strongly about is highly practical and hands-on. Debating against an opposing team is something very real and exciting to students.


We also find that taking a light-hearted approach to debating works wonders too. We don’t treat debating like a cut-throat, win-at-all-costs exercise as that really isn’t motivating to most young people, but rather a chance to enjoy working in teams, finding ways to be persuasive and being creative about communicating their ideas. We enjoy being playful and having some fun in our debating classes - and we find students enjoy that too!




Is debating only for super-confident students?


No! At Rise & Shine, we believe every child can debate and we try to ensure that the debating experience is a positive one for all students.

Think back to your own school years. Did you ever have a bad experience at school that resulted in you being turned off public speaking, art, music or maths? Sometimes all it takes is for a child to have one bad experience to become fearful or turned off public speaking or debating for life. We feel that it is so important to be conscious of treating students with care and consideration for their feelings so that their debating experience helps them grow in confidence.

We encourage students as best we can, but we don’t force students to do something if they are not ready for it, and we acknowledge the person effort and progress made by every child, regardless of their skill level.

Of course we can’t make life perfect for students or guarantee that they will never have a bad experience, but we can do our best to be sensitive to a child’s struggle and look for ways to support and empower them.

Debating is an activity that offers students a huge sense of accomplishment and we often find that our more nervous students gain confidence in leaps and bounds after their first debate event!




How does debating help students succeed in life?


In 2013, Google decided to test its hiring practices by crunching every piece of hiring, firing, and promotion data accumulated since the company’s incorporation in 1998.

The results of 'Project Oxygen' shocked everyone by concluding that, among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise (science, technology, engineering and maths) comes in dead last!

The eight top characteristics of success at Google are:

· being a good coach,

· communicating and listening well,

· possessing insights into others - including appreciating different values and points of view,

· having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s teammates,

· being a good critical thinker and problem solver,

· being able to make connections across complex ideas, and

· STEM expertise and technical skills

There is an activity that helps students develop all of the top seven qualities… You guessed it – it’s debating!

With the Rise & Shine method of teaching, debating is so much more than just arguing a topic and trying to persuade others of your view, although that’s a part of it too. Debating allows young people to gain skills that will serve them well in further education as well as their careers in today’s fast-paced and rapidly-changing world. It helps young people to build their confidence, collaborate and communicate, practice courage and creativity and think big.

Students who participate in debating in school may never debate again in their adult life - but the skills they develop through debating are relvant in every career as well as in living a personally fulfilling life.

Debating helps train the next generation of leaders, humanitarians, creators, thinkers and people who are not afraid to stand up, speak out and let their talents shine!




What does a debate look like?


A debate usually consists of two teams of three students and a chairperson, who helps keep the debate on track, keeps the audience engaged and connects the variations sections of a debate.

An adjudicator will determine the award level of each team.

The debate starts with an introduction by the chairperson, who will welcome the adjudicator and audience, introduce the topic of the debate and introduce the speakers.

Speaker 1 on the affirmative team will then deliver their speech. The chairperson will then comment on Speaker 1's talk and introduce the first speaker on the negative team.

Speaker 1 on the negative team will deliver their speech, followed by the chairpeson's comment and introduction of the second speaker for the affirmative.

The debate continues thus - with the second speaker for the affirmative followed by the the second speaker for the negative, then the third speaker for the affirmative and third speaker for the negative, with each speaker introduced by the chairperson.

Each speaker is able to rebut points made by a previous speaker/s, except for the first speaker on the affirmative team.

The debate ends with a conclusion from the chairpeson. Usually there will be more than one debate in an event, and at the end of all of the debates, the adjudicator will announce the results and share some feedback for each team. Adjudicators' awards refer to the whole team. Adjudicators usually address feedback to the whole team also, rather than singling students out unless for demonstrating outstanding skills. Adjudicators will write comments for each student, however, that their coach can share with them at a later date.




Who is Gozone Debating?


Gozone Debating is Rise & Shine Debating's former name. After operating as Gozone Debating for over 20 years, it was time for a change and in 2019, Gozone became Rise & Shine - a name that we feel better reflects who we are and our mission to empower students to grow new skills, develop and share their unique talents.





OSH Programs

What ages are outside-school-hours programs for?


Programs that are run before or after school for students who attend a particular primary school are generally for Year 5 and 6 students.

If you have a capable and motivated Year 4 student, please contact us at hello@debating.net.au to discuss whether the program is suitable for your child.

We are happy to run programs for students in Years 7-8 if there is sufficient demand.

Some of our community programs that include students from a range of local primary schools include students from Years 4 - 7. In some programs, Year 4 students are able to join in Terms 3 & 4.




How do I find a program near me?


Visit the "Find a Program" page on this website to see the programs that are currently available.

If there isn't a program near you and you'd like to help start one, please contact us to have a chat about the possibilities. We can run before or after-school programs within a school community - with the school's permission and sufficient interest.

We can run community programs for students of neighbouring schools provided we find a suitable venue and have sufficient numbers (10 or more students) for the program to proceed.

We currently provide programs within Perth, WA, however we are happy to provide consultancy and resources to support teachers/coaches to start debating programs in country areas.




What do students learn in a before or after-school program?


Students will work in teams to create a thought-provoking debate. Students learn many skills as part of this process, including:

- choosing a topic and brainstorming ideas related to their position
- defining their topic
- researching their topic and their points
- learning what each speaker in a debating team does and assigning team roles
- building strong, evidence-based arguments to prove their topic
- finding credible sources to provide evidence for arguments
- writing an introduction, body and conclusion for their speech
- using palm cards effectively
- how to rebut the opposing team
- teamwork and collaboration skills
- public speaking skills, including eye contact, voice projection and expression, body language and interaction with the audience
- confidence and ways to conquer nerves
- critical thinking and problem-solving skills
- creative thinking and generating ideas

These are skills that are useful for students in further studies and work, regardless of whether they continue to pursue debating. Debating is not just useful, but also highly enjoyable, with games and skill-building activities throughout. Furthermore, it allows students to have a say on things that matter to them and share their thoughts with a wider audience.

Students work toward participating in a debate event at the end of the term - either an in-house debate against other students in the class or an interschool debate against students from different schools.




Does my child have to participate in a debate event?


No, if a child truly feels unready to participate in a debate event, they may still attend class and learn the skills of debating. They will still be part of a team and will help their teammates prepare for the debate. It is rare that a child does not want to participate however. Each member of a debating team has a different role, and we pay careful attention to helping each student find a role that suits their strengths and abilities. We also help students learn to manage nervousness in a positive way, and prepare and practice their debate in a way that suits their learning style.

Rise & Shine debating programs focus on learning rather than winning. We create an environment where students are encouraged to have a go, and everyone is acknowledged for the skills they have mastered, as well as being supported to work toward the next level of development. When debating isn't about the pressure of having to win but about doing their best, most students feel safe to have a go.




What if my child can't attend the debate event?


Debate events are usually held in the last few weeks of a school term. If your child will be away for a debate event, they can still participate in the program. In this situation, we would ask the student to still write their debate and we would have one of their teammates or a fellow student present it on the night.

Alternatively, we might create a 4-person team and share the Speaker 2 role between two students - the student who will be away will do half of the work for the Speaker 2 role and the student sharing that role will deliver both people's points on the night.

If your child will be away for the debate event, please let their debate coach know as soon as possible so that we can accommodate and include them without causing disruption to their team.




Should I help my child with their debate?


Yes, it would be great to support your child with their debating work. We consider debating to be a learning experience, rather than as something that is primarily about competing. As such, the best learning will be gained by students writing their own debates with encouragement from you.

The best ways that you can support your child are:

- Ask questions: rather than telling your child more about their topic, ask questions that help them find the answers for themselves.

Some questions you might want to ask include:

* Could you tell me more about that?

* I don’t quite understand that – could you explain it to me?

* Are you sure about that fact?

* How else can you prove that to me?

* How could we find more information about that?

- Discuss the topic: we are encouraging students to gain a deep understanding of their topic and so talking about it with them as a family at dinner can really help students to broaden their knowledge and get the perspectives of others on the subject.

- Let them use their own words: students learn so much more when they write their speech in their own words, rather than trying to sound impressive or using overly formal language. Encourage students to understand their research and then explain it in their own way.

- Encourage preparation: encourage your child not to leave finishing until the last minute, and listen to them practice their speech. The more a child can practice, the more confident he or she will feel and the more they are able to use great eye contact!

- Encourage learning, not competition: we teach debating as a learning experience for students, not a competitive experience. Encourage your child to do their very best, but don’t put pressure on them. Students learn more when they enjoy the process.

- Keep their age in mind: please remember that your child is only young and does not have an adult’s general knowledge of the world and that their ability to reason is still developing. We do not expect perfection from students or that they grasp every aspect of debating right away. Skills take time to develop and come with experience and practice.




Can my neurodiverse child participate?


Yes! We do our best to include and welcome students with different learning styles and sometimes challenges. We understand that students are intelligent in different ways and have different strengths and talents that they can bring to their team.

If you are unsure whether a debating program is right for your child, please contact us and we can discuss your child's needs to determine if the program will be a good fit for them.





In-school Programs

What age can students participate in a debating program?


Debating programs are generally for Year 5 - Year 8 students.

Our program, Persuasive Speaking, is suitable for Year 4 students or beginer Year 5 or 6 students as a precursor to a full debating program.




How long is an in-school debating program?


Debating programs are usually between 8 - 10 weeks, including a debate event and typically run according to a school term.




Is it possible to customise an in-school debating program to suit our needs?


Yes, it is. We can adapt our programs to suit a variety of circumstances. Please get in touch with us to discuss your needs: hello@debating.net.au




Can ESL students, students with low literacy skills and students with additional needs also particiapte?


Yes! Low literacy skills can present in any classroom situation and in our experience this often shows up as a reluctance to write and record ideas.

This does not mean the student does not have ideas. Often the opposite is the case and they have a lot of ideas but a lack of ability to record them. Other ways of recording and writing can be explored with students who have literacy challenges.

Sometimes we find that students with poor literacy skills may make up for it with charisma, personality and a natural ability to speak well when they are supported to share their ideas without having to rely heavily on reading from detailed notes. We have had students in the past who have delivered award-winning debate speeches from a one-page mind-map.

Debating does not rely on literacy - there are always ways to include students if the teacher or coach can be flexible.

Even students who are still learning English can participate in debating. It’s just a matter of helping them record their ideas in a way that will work for them or adapting the requirements, such as having them speak for a shorter time or share a speaker role with another student.




What is the role of the classroom teacher in a Rise & Shine debating program?


Classroom teachers will typically be present in the classroom when a Rise & Shine program is running, though not always.

During a debating lesson, the teacher may choose to be actively involved, assisting their students, or they may use this time to prepare other lessons.

There is no requirement for extra work between sessions, but the quality of the students' learning and the standard of their debates will naturally increase the more time spent.





Debate Events

Where can I find the details of my child's debate event?


Please visit our "Find a Program" page and scroll to the events section for more details on your child's event.




Once my child has finished their debate, do we need to stay?


Yes, please stay for the whole debate event. We ask that students and parents stay for all the debates in their room. It's disheartening and unfair for students who debate last if many of the audience have left. Watching other teams debate is also very valuable for students in improving their skills.




What can I expect at a debate event?


When you arrive at a debate event, look for signage to let you know what room your child will be in.

Each room usually has 2 - 4 debates. Students and parents sit in the audience unless they are debating. The adjudicator will welcome the audience and a chairperson will introduce each debate. The audience can applaud at the end of each debater's speech.

At the conclusion of all the debates in a room, the adjudicator will give feedback to each team and present the awards.

We ask that students and parents stay for all the debates in their room. It's disheartening for students who debate last to see that a lot of the audience have left. Watching other teams debate is also very valuable for students in improving their skills.




Can I take a photo or video of my child's debate?


You may photograph or video your own child provided the photo/video is not used on social media and that there are no objections from the parents of other students nearby.

If you wish to photograph your child's team, please check that it's okay with the parents of your child's teammates. Students are always accompanied by a parent or guardian to a debate night, so asking the other parents should not be a problem.




When should we arrive at the debate event?


Please make sure you are at the debate event at least 15 - 20 minutes before it starts. It is important to plan to arrive earlier in case of unforeseen traffic, trouble finding parking or the venue.

Please also make sure that you have the phone numbers of your child's teammates' parents so you can call them if you are unexpectedly delayed. It is distressing for students if one of their teammates has not arrived when the debate event starts and cannot be reached. Students don't know whether to go ahead with a team member missing or whether to wait for them.




What do I need to know as an audience member?


We ask that audience members be positive and encouraging. Our students are young and still learning. It takes a lot of courage to speak publicly, especially at such a young age.

We want their experience to be something that is exciting and enjoyable, and not one of pressure or judgement. Smile at the debaters, show interest and applaud at the end of each debater's speech.

We ask that students and parents stay for all the debates in their room. It's disheartening and unfair for students who debate last if many of the audience have left. Watching other teams debate is also very valuable for students in improving their skills.

We also ask parents to only leave the room at the end of a debate if possible. If audience members are coming in and out during a debate, it is very distracting for young debaters.




How should I help my child prepare?


The best learning will be gained by students writing their own debates with encouragement from you.

The best ways that you can help your child prepare are:

- Ask questions: rather than telling your child more about their topic, ask questions that help them find the answers for themselves.

- Discuss the topic: we are encouraging students to gain a deep understanding of their topic and so talking about it with them as a family at dinner can really help students to broaden their knowledge and get the perspectives of others on the subject.

- Let them use their own words: students learn so much more when they write their speech in their own words, rather than trying to sound impressive or using overly formal language. Encourage students to understand their research and then explain it in their own way.

- Encourage preparation: encourage your child not to leave finishing until the last minute, and listen to them practice their speech. The more a child can practice, the more confident he or she will feel and the more they are able to use great eye contact!

- Encourage learning, not competition: we teach debating as a learning experience for students, not a competitive experience. Encourage your child to do their very best, but don’t put pressure on them. Students learn more when they enjoy the process.

- Keep their age in mind: please remember that your child is only young and does not have an adult’s general knowledge of the world and that their ability to reason is still developing. We do not expect perfection from students or that they grasp every aspect of debating right away. Skills take time to develop and come with experience and practice.




Should my child wear their school uniform?


Yes, generally students wear school uniforms to a debate event.

Students from community groups (with students from a variety of schools and home-educated students) may wear neat, smart clothing.




What if my child is unwell and unable to attend the event?


If your child is unwell before the debate event, please let their debate coach and their teammates know as soon as possible!

If your child is unwell, please make every effort possible to give their speech to one of their team mates or their debate coach, as a team member or student from another team can step in and present their debate in their stead.




How long are debates and debate events?


A full debate usually takes between 20 - 30 minutes. A debate event usually takes 2 - 3 hours, depending on the number of students participating.

This timing includes transition times, the chairperson's introductions and conclusions and the feedback and award presentations from the adjudicators.




Will my child debate against others their own age?


Students will debate against others from Years 4 - 7.

When students are beginners or still developing and honing their skills, it often makes little difference what year they are in as all the students are still learning.

Where possible, we try to ensure that an advanced team is not matched against complete beginners, but fortunately our Rise & Shine awards recognise the level that each team is at, rather than pitting teams against each other in an overly competitive way.

When students are competing, it may make a difference if a Year 4 debates against a Year 6 or 7 team, as older students will have more life experience and often, literacy skills. When each team is given an award based on the criteria and skill level they have demonstrated, it doesn't matter so much who they debate against - every student is celebrated for the level they have achieved.




How can I help my child deal with feeling nervous or anxious?


There is no magic solution for nerves, but we do have some techniques we've found to be helpful. Don’t take it for granted that all children will feel nervous. Some people feel nervous but some people feel excited – and some people feel a mixture of both. All of those are fine.

1. Avoid saying "don't worry."

It's generally not helpful and it tends not to work. Instead, try to validate that it’s okay to feel nervous, but that you believe in them.

2. Explain what's happening when you’re nervous

Explaining before a debate what's happening physiologically when a student is feeling nervous can be helpful. Letting students know that their body is reacting to a perceived threat and it's just trying to be helpful and keep them safe, not make them feel bad. Smiling, laughing and deep breathing help give our bodies a signal that we are not in real danger.

3. Deep breathing

This is physically a powerful calming tool. It's good to give students something to help them to breathe deeply rather than just telling them “do some deep breathing” or “take deep breaths.” Just saying this doesn’t mean anything to some students. Practical methods that can help include:

· Count to five breathing in and then count to 5 breathing out.

· Hold a tissue and breathe in as you raise it above your head, then breathe out as it's falling to the floor - or do this just imagining the tissue.

· Lay on your back (best done at home before the debate) and put a book or something similar on the lowest part of your stomach. Breathe in and out and notice the book rising and falling. See if you can make the book rise even higher. Once you have experienced what this feels like, you can try it standing and just image that a book is there.




How long does each child speak for in a debate?


Each student has 3.5 minutes to speak. A bell is rung at the 3 minute mark as a warning and then at the 3.5 minute mark.

Timing a debate is not easy, especially for young students. It's something that comes with time and experience. If students go a little over time we do not cut them off, but if it's clear that a student is not close to finishing once they reach the 4 minute mark, they may be gently asked to jump to their conclusion and finish up.




Who can participate in an interschool debate event?


Any team of 3 students from Years 4 - 7 can participate in our interschool debate events provided they are familiar with the Rise & Shine approach to debating.

There is a small cost involved to enter an interschool competition. This is included in the fees for students participating in Rise & Shine OSH or In-school programs.




What does it cost to participate in a debate event?


The cost of a Rise & Shine debate event is included within the fees of students who are participating in a Rise & Shine Outside-School-Hours or In-School program.

The cost of participating in a Rise & Shine debate event for students not currently participating in a Rise & Shine class is $12 per student. Teams must consist of 3 or 4 students.

There is no cost for parents and family to attend the event as audience members.





Adjudication

How are debates usually scored?


In traditional Australasian debating, each speaker is given a score out of 100, broken down into 40% Matter (the content of the speech), 40% Manner (the way it is presented), and 20% Method (structure, teamwork, and dynamics).

The scores of each speaker are then combined to give a result out of 300. Historically, this led to scores that varied wildly, with different adjudicators giving quite different scores to the same performance.

The Australian Debating Federation has addressed this problem by restricting the score ranges. In Western Australia, Matter and Manner are both phrased as a score out of 40, but the permissible score range is 26-34 points. Method is phrased as a score out of 20, but the permissible score range is 13-17 points.

These scores are secondary to the ‘gut feeling’ of the adjudicator. As Victoria’s chapter of the Australian Debating Federation advises, “Adjudicators do not score each speaker then add up the scores and get a result! The role of the adjudicator is to reach a decision first, and then adjust scores as necessary to reflect the reasons for their decision.”




What are the pros and cons of traditional debate scoring?


There are several benefits to traditional Australiasian debate scoring, most notably that scores vary little between adjudicators, so debaters’ results across multiple events look consistent, and that all debates appear to be close, reassuring the losers that their learning curve is not insurmountably steep.

On the other hand, this system has a number of disadvantages.

While the information on score restrictions is available for those students who do their research, speakers are told the average score is 75 and the total score is 100; they are rarely told that the highest possible score is 85. This can be frustrating for students who attempt to use their scores as feedback to improve their skills.

When adjudicators compare results across different debates, such as in large-scale competitions, they look at the point spread rather than the actual numbers. A team that won 226-224 would accrue two points toward any championship determination, the same amount as a team that won 238-236, even though the latter team would, theoretically, have shown far superior skill. In addition, there is often a cap on the margin a team is allowed to win by (usually 6 points).

Adjudicators are also advised to place little value on evidence such as statistics, examples, and citations of experts. Philosophically this is because a case should be convincing on its own merits, and because there is no way to fact-check claims made during a debate.

In practice though, this has led to well-researched debates scoring poorly against debates with convincing-sounding but unsubstantiated claims. To best prepare debaters for senior debating (where teams are given one hour to prepare without access to research materials), coaches discourage debaters from doing in-depth, topic-specific research.




How are Rise & Shine debates scored?


Rise & Shine debating takes a different approach to traditional scoring. Instead of a winning team and losing team, we award levels of achievement in debates based on a set of criteria. In Rise & Shine debating, teams are awarded a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum level depending on the skill level they have accomplished. Our Rise & Shine Framework provides criteria for the different award levels.

Whilst a student may demonstrate skills across a number of award levels, the majority of their skills will tend to fall into one main level. Adjudicators use their knowledge and experience to determine the level of each individual, and then combine those results to achieve a team award level.

For example, a team may have one student performing at a Bronze level and two students clearly at a Silver level. In this situation, the team would likely receive a Silver award and each student receives a Silver certificate, as the individual efforts of each student are combined for a total overall result.

Rise & Shine focuses on skill development first and results second. Debating is seen as a chance for students to learn through experience. The Rise & Shine method focuses on encouraging students to progress in developing their skills.

In a Rise & Shine debate event, you may have two teams that achieve the same award or both teams may get a different award. If two opposing teams achieve the same level, we don’t think of this as a draw, but rather that both teams have demonstrated approximately the same level of skill development.

Likewise, if one team achieves a Bronze and one team achieves a Silver, we don’t consider the Silver team to have won. Rather we acknowledge both teams for the level they have accomplished and encourage them to reach for the next level in future debates.




What are the benefits of Rise & Shine scoring?


With beginning debaters and young students in particular, students all work so hard to prepare and present their debates. It’s a complex activity and something they usually put a lot of effort into. To declare one team the winner and the other the loser is often very disheartening for students, especially when it may be a matter of a few points.

We find that simply announcing a winning team does nothing to help the students grow and improve, whereas whatever Rise & Shine award they achieve tells them what skills they’ve mastered and what skills they need to work on to reach the next level.

We also find that with young debaters, students are frequently at a very similar level of development, especially with an in-house debate where students have had the same teacher or coach and are debating against classmates.

As such, when there’s not a lot of difference between the standard of the teams, awarding a winner and loser becomes very much a matter of opinion. With Rise & Shine however, both teams can achieve the same award if they are at the same standard, which is much fairer and more encouraging.

The Rise & Shine system takes the focus in debating off competition and places it on learning and skill development, empowering students to aim high and do the best they can, rather than trying to destroy the opposition.




What are Rise & Shine awards?


At the end of a debate, each team will be awarded a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum award according to the level of proficiency they have demonstrated as a team. Each chairperson will also receive a participation award.

In addition to team awards, some individuals may receive either:

- A Shining Star Award for shining particularly brightly in one or more debating skills. This award is not about which students are the best but acknowledging when certain skills have been demonstrated with mastery that all students can learn from.

- A Rising Star Award for courageous contribution or going the extra mile to make a contribution to debating. This award allows us to acknowledge individuals who might fill in for a teammate who is ill at the last minute, step up and help another debater in need or overcome a difficult circumstance bravely.





Masterclasses

Can beginners attend Masterclasses?


Yes. Masterclasses require no prior skills or learning as they are stand-alone workshops for any student who is keen to develop their skills in a particular area.




Who are Masterclasses for?


Rise & Shine Masterclass workshops are ideal for students who are keen to take their debating skills to the next level.

Masterclasses are open to students from Years 4 - 7.




Do I have to stay with my child for a Masterclass?


No, you are welcome to sign your child in to the Masterclass and then return to collect them at the end.

We prefer that parents don't stay unless there are extenuating circumstances. Please contact us to discuss us to discuss your particular concerns: hello@debating.net.au




Can you run a Masterclass workshop at my school or organisation?


Yes. We can adjust the length of the workshop to suit your school. Workshops can be run for an entire classroom or a smaller group such as a student leadership body. Prices can be negotiated depending on numbers.

Please contact us to discuss your requirements: hello@debating.net.au




What are Masterclasses


Skills taught in Masterclasses are highly transferable to other areas of school and life and as such, Masterclasses are open to any students, not just those participating in Rise & Shine programs.

Workshops are hands-on and allow students to practice skills they wouldn't normally have the opportunity to explore in-depth.




How long are Masterclasses?


Most Masterclasses are 3 hours. These are hands-on, fun and practical workshops and students will be actively participating.




What should my child bring to their Masterclass?


Your child should bring a water bottle and a snack. Please be aware that we maintain a nut-free environment.

Students should wear comfortable, casual clothes that they can move freely in - there is no need for them to wear school uniform.

Students may bring a notebook and pen if they wish, but it is not required as all other materials including paper and pens will be provided as necessary.