Just being able to argue well does not make you a good debater – just as being able to kick a ball will not make you a good soccer player. There are various rules to debating, depending on what style of debating you are using. There can be British parliamentary debating, Oxford style debating, SACEE style, and most importantly – World Schools Style debating. The rules for World Schools debating were invented in Australia decades ago, as an answer to the boring styles of debating that school debaters had to take part in.
At university level, debaters are allowed to interrupt each other and make all kinds of smart comments, as the focus is no longer on whether you are a good public speaker, but more on whether you could argue well, present your arguments clearly, and could make people believe what you were saying. No one cared what the Oxford definition of the topic was – what mattered was whether it was clear what you were arguing about, and whether your argument was the most understandable and believable.
World Schools debating was invented to capture that exact spirit of debating at school level. The older, stuffier, more formal styles went out the window, and World Schools began to spread, as it was the first debating style that promised to be really entertaining to be involved in, as well as to watch. Debating was starting to become a real form of entertainment.
The rules for the World Schools style of debating are really quite easy, once you have got the hang of it – and they change very little at all the different competitions.
The only thing that is different is that you may be asked to speak for slightly longer or shorter in your debates. Everything else remains the same. The only thing about World Schools that is very different from what you might have seen before is something called Points of Information (or POIs for the real dorks). Points of information are a rule that lets you interrupt someone else’s speech to challenge them on what they are saying – and means that the whole debate becomes a lot more fun to be in. Once you finish your speech, you can still be involved in what is going on, and score for your team – just by making sure that you challenge the other team on their arguments. But don’t worry about points of information now. We will take a look at them later. In the meanwhile, World Schools style is very similar to normal debating with all its basic rules, with just a few little changes.
The Basic Rules of World Schools Style Teams In World Schools, there are two teams – just like most forms of debating you will have seen before. The one team is the PROPOSITION, and it is there job to agree with the topic, and argue for it. The other team is the OPPOSITION, and it will be their job to disagree with the proposition. Each team will have three speakers in it, and they will each have a chance to speak once during the debate, to state their case, as well as being able to offer points of information to the other team’s speakers when they are speaking. They can do that throughout the debate.
Speeches Once the third speakers from each side have finished speaking, one speaker from each team will have to give a short “reply speech”, which will let them summarise what has gone on in the debate, and close their team’s arguments. The person who gets to do this can’t be the third speaker from the team. This is because they will have just finished their speech, and so they won’t have time to write another one and come up to speak again. That means that either the first speaker or the second speaker will have to do the reply speech.
The speeches are all done in a specific order, which is very similar to any style of debating that you might have seen before. There is one little difference though. The reply speeches happen the other way round from how it normally works. The Opposition third speaker will finish tehir speech, and then the someone from that team will have to get up straight afterwards to give the reply speech. That means that the Opposition team gets to speak twice in a row. After the reply speech, it will be the Proposition’s chance to do their reply speech, and then the debate will end.