If you were one of 12 people on a crashing plane and there was only one parachute to use, how would you justify taking it ahead of everyone else?
That was a question 90 students from 12 schools across the Western Region grappled with at an annual debating workshop in Dubbo on Monday.
Held at Dubbo West Public School, the workshop involved students assuming the roles of characters in scenarios designed to test and strengthen their debating abilities.
“One of the girls was given the role of Donald Trump, some acted as sports people, royalty and Lady Gaga,” Dubbo West Public debating coordinator Sue Furnell said.
“Tony Davey [a debating and public speaking support officer from the Department of Education’s Art Unit in Sydney] delivered the workshop.
“He’s been explaining manner, method and matter.”
Ms Furnell said manner is all about looking at how students present themselves and the way they use their voice and gestures when trying to prove a point.
“Method looks at the structure and matter is about what you talk about; that’s arguments and rebuttals.
“As long as you can nail your arguments and rebuttals you’re home and hosed.”
For most students, the workshop was their first foray into the world of formal debating.
“They go away very enthused and children who can express their thoughts are more confident in class and as young adults,” Ms Furnell said.
“It’s really important we give them opportunities through debating and public speaking.”
Year 6 student Rory Cameron attended the workshop last year and is now an avid debater whose confidence has grown since first taking part.
“I was nervous but now I feel much more confident,” she said.
“I use what I've learnt on my brother and now I get to choose what we watch on tv.”
For Dubbo West Public School Captain Amelia Percy, the workshop was well worth signing up for.
“I signed up because it looked fun and I wanted to give it a try.
“I’ve enjoyed it.”
Students from Coolah and Tottenham Central schools, along with Dubbo, Nyngan, Dubbo North, Parkes, Dubbo West, Buninyong, Gulgong, Dubbo South, Narromine and Orana Heights public schools took part in the workshop.
Several schools will now go on to put their new or improved debating skills to the test by competing in Western Debating Challenge and Premier’s Debating Challenge later this year.
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