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THE FINNISH SCHOOLS DEBATING COMPETITION

Organisers: The Federation of Finnish-British Societies Final: Venue:

FINNISH SCHOOLS DEBATING COMPETITION
ORDER OF PROCEDURE • The motion for each team will be drawn by lot so that each motion is debated only once. • The order of procedure for each debate will be as follows: Discussion of the topic Proposal of the motion Opposing of the motion Seconding the motion Seconding for the opposition Open debate with intervention from the floor Summing up for the opposition Summing up for the motion 5 minutes 4 minutes 4 minutes 3 minutes 3 minutes 8 minutes maximum 3 minutes 3minutes

• The teams next in turn to debate will leave the auditorium after the open debate. The motion will be then drawn leaving 5 minutes for discussion. • At the end of the debating session, debaters and spectators will be asked to leave the auditorium to allow the judges to confer. • After reaching their decision judges will announce the winning team and the runners-up. Before announcing the winners, the panel of judges (or one of its members) will offer constructive criticism and advice to the speakers. General This is a debating competition and not a competition for public speaking. Judges should watch out for speakers who give little or no evidence of initiative as debaters. The summing-up speeches are important tests of debating ability.

CRITERIA Judges will assess teams principally on the basis of three criteria: Strategy, Content, Style. These three headings are not mutually exclusive: there will inevitably be some overlap. 1. Strategy The main aspects of this are teamwork and rebuttal. Teamwork The two speakers should complement rather than duplicate each other’s arguments. It should be clear that their case has been well co-ordinated in advance. Competitors should remember, however, that arguments and rebuttal will develop quickly and perhaps unpredictably in the course of the debate. Rebuttal Apart from the opening speaker in favour of the motion, all the debaters are expected to rebut the case of the opposing side at the same time as forwarding their own arguments. It is not sufficient simply to state that the other side is wrong; there must be frequent reference to what has been said and an explanation of how points introduced now counter those previously made. In short, the ability to think on one’s feet should be rewarded highly. The summing-up of speeches should deal with significant points from the floor debate and summarise the major arguments of the team by highlighting principal areas of disagreement and showing why they can only be resolved one way. 2. Content 1. It should be evident from a good speech that the team has carefully considered the motion. Each speaker should demonstrate an understanding of the issues involved in the case being argued and support it with carefully selected and relevant evidence. Irrelevance or disregard for the motion should be penalised 2. Each speech should develop an argument rather than rely on a series of assertions. Logic, clear structure and consistency of argument will be rewarded. 3. The opening speaker of each side is responsible for establishing clearly the terms on which the case will be conducted. Weak or frivolous interpretations are unlikely to be successful and teams should be careful to avoid truistic or tautologous definitions. (See also note on definition under specific criteria for judges). 4. The summing-up speeches must not include new material except by way of rebuttal. 3. Style Style may be defined as oratorical skill. It does not cover what is said but how it is said. The following areas are all relevant. Speakers who do not use oratorical skills will be penalised but an unnecessarily flamboyant or pretentious style is unlikely to be successful. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. The speaker’s ability to express him/herself persuasively. The extent to which the individual develops rapport with the audience. Variety of voice. Use of humour. Diction: choice of language and fluency. Use of notes

Comments on the use of notes

Speakers who read a script or recite a memorised piece will be penalised. Notes brought into the debate should therefore primarily be for reference purposes and a speaker should not be tied to them. Good debaters will, however, need to make and refer more closely to notes during the course of the debate in order to rebut the opposing case. The Floor Debate The open period before the summing-up of speeches is an opportunity for members of the audience to react to the debate so far. Points should be kept short and addressed to the chair. New arguments may, if necessary, be introduced to do so, but it is preferable to link rebuttal to an established line of argument. The floor debate is meant for students. ADDITIONAL GUIDANCE FOR JUDGES Applying the Criteria The judges’ task is to determine which team or teams were best. If two teams are to be selected they may come from the same debate or from different debates. The decision must be based on the presentation of arguments and evidence by the team as outlined in the three criteria of Strategy, Content and Style, which have equal status. Since it is not easy to predict how a debate will develop, judges are strongly advised to take detailed notes for later reference. In the end, however, it is the overall impression of which team(s) made the most convincing case that will determine the verdict. The judges must base their decision on the evidence and arguments raised by the debaters and on nothing else. The judges’ own views on an issue must be set aside. The teams are to be marked according to how they would impress a reasonable and impartial observer. Such an observer can be assumed to have an adequate general knowledge of the issues but the judges should not penalise debaters who are guilty of a flaw unobserved by any other speakers and only apparent to someone exceptionally well versed in the topic. Specific criteria The judges should not impose too heavy or too unreasonable a burden of proof on the Proposition. Debates are not criminal cases in which the prosecution must prove the case beyond a shadow of doubt. Anything that can be proved in so short a time as a competitive debate round is probably a truism. In genuinely debatable cases there is always some doubt. If the motion is of an absolute nature the proposers are only expected to show its validity as a general principle. It is completely invalid or wrong to claim ”I simply have to give one example, one exception, to destroy the proposer’s case”. Similarly the Proposition should not have to provide lots of specifics. As long as their definition is clear, then it is logic and values that are at issue. Judges should beware of Opposition teams whose speeches consist primarily of ”They have not told us exactly how it would work”, ”Make them show exactly where the money would come from”, etc. These are questions or objections but do not constitute compelling arguments. Whilst an Opposition team is not obliged to put forward a positive case of its own, it is effective to present a cogent negative philosophy in response to the Proposition case.

A Note on Defining the Motion The first Proposer must explain clearly his/her team’s interpretation of the motion. Intelligent and straightforward definitions are expected. The Opposers should accept this definition unless they can demonstrate that it is faulty. Such a challenge must be made by the first Opposer challenging the motion, then the second Proposer must deal with the question of definition. If not, the Opposer’s new definition will be considered to have been accepted. It should be emphasised that it is far preferable to avoid a definitional clash. However, the Opposers must be penalised heavily if they adopt a new definition without explaining why they have rejected that offered by the Proposers. SOME NOTES ON DEBATING These notes are not a substitute for the official guidance given to judges and competitors. They should not be applied too rigidly. However, it is hoped that they will help all speakers to prepare effectively. 1. Teamwork Before preparing their speeches the two members of the team should spend some time discussing the motion and working out how best to divide their material. The two speakers should complement one another and not simply repeat the same points. Each speaker must have a clear idea of what the other intends to say before the debate begins. 2. Logic Though good factual knowledge is expected, you will above all be assessed on quality of argument. Make sure what you say is clear and logical. If possible, develop a line of argument rather than rely on a series of unconnected points. 3. Delivery Speeches should not be read as this reduces rapport with the audience. In any case, in a good debate only one of the four speakers (the first proposer) can know in advance exactly what to say. It is often helpful to use notes written on small cards. Vary the tone and pace of your speaking. Look at the audience. 4. Rebuttal This is the most demanding and most interesting feature of a good debate. After the opening speech, each speaker must spend some time attacking what the opponents have said. You should try to pick as many holes as possible in the other side’s case while consolidating your own defence. Treat it like a sport. Debates where each side concentrates on its own case and ignores its opponents are dull. More specific advice on rebuttal is given below.

5. Structure of speeches There are no firm rules in English debating about how speeches are constructed but these guidelines may help: The First Proposer should explain how the motion has been interpreted as clearly as possible. There should follow a description of how the Proposer’s case will be divided between first and second speakers. The first part of the case, which will probably be the larger part, follows: The First Opposer should begin by dealing with any difference of opinion over what the motion means. If there is an argument over definition, the Opposer must explain why their interpretation is better though it is always preferable for the Opposers to argue on the Proposer’s own ground. After this, the first Opposer describes how their arguments will be divided and gives the first part of the case. During the course of this one or two major points made by the Proposer should be rebutted. Seconders on each side should divide their time about equally between replying to points made by their opponents and completing the case for their own side. At the end of each speech a brief summary of the whole argument should be given. Summing-up speeches. No new material may be introduced at this stage except by way of reply. A good summing-up speech will deal with points from the floor, will summarise the essential differences between the two sides and will explain clearly why one side is superior to the other. In the absence of worthwhile points from the floor it is a good tactic to rebut more of the points offered by the main speaker on the other side. 6. Preparation It follows from the last section that speakers will be better prepared if they have tried to anticipate what arguments will be used by their opponents and how they can be rebutted. 7. Conclusion Anybody who met all the criteria here would be a world-class debater. Do not be intimidated. At least you have an idea of where you should aim. Above all, regard a debate as a competitive challenge: you should go in absolutely determined not to let the opposition better you in argument. Even when not presenting your speech you can keep involved by passing notes to the other speaker and by offering points of information. Taken in that spirit, debating is very enjoyable.

DUTIES OF TIMEKEEPERS 1. Make sure you have two reliable stopwatches. 2. You will need an audible signal, preferably a bell. This should be loud enough to be heard clearly by the speakers and the judges but not so loud as to cause a disturbance. 3. Each main speech is allocated a maximum of 4 minutes. After the floor debate, a further 3 minutes will be allowed in which either team member will sum up. An audible signal will be given after after three minutes of each tem’s first speech and again after four minutes to mark the end of the speech. In the summing up: a signal will be given after 2 minutes and again after 3 minutes. 4. Make a note of the time any speech runs over. Remember to stop the clock for any other interruption such as point of order or intervention by the Chair.

THE JUDGES’ MARK SHEETS Marks awarded should reflect the judge’s decision; they should not make that decision for the judge. Marks, however, are not irrelevancies; they exist as a guide to the judge and to the competitors as to the nature of the judgements that the judge has made as the debates progress. For categories marked out of 10, excellence should receive 9-10, good quality 7-8, average quality 5-6, below average quality 3-4 and poor quality 1-2. These values are halved for reply speeches, except for strategy, which is again marked out of 10. These marks apply to the standard of the competition, not to any notional universal dimension of debating skills. The best speeches of the contest should be given 27-30 marks out of 30 and the worst 3-6 out of 30. For most debates the range will be narrower, but there is no point in having marks available that are never used. In short, every effort should be made to separate teams. Judges are asked to write explanatory and constructive comments on the mark sheet, not merely unhelpful criticism. Judges must remember that the competition is also an opportunity to learn and improve debating techniques and that judges are central to this educational process. Judges are encouraged to discuss their decisions with competitors after the debate provided that competitors and coaches do not abuse this openness and see it as an attack on what they regard as a wrong decision. Written comments on the sheets may be kept brief in the interests of expediting the adjudication.

JUDGE’S MARK SHEET PROPOSITION Name of speaker First speaker Content Strategy 10 10 Style 10 Total 30 CommentS

Second speaker Reply speech

10

10

10

30

5

10

5

20

Total

25

30

25

30

TEAM TOTAL

OPPOSITION Name of speaker Content Strategy Style First speaker 10 10 10 Total 30 Comment

Second speaker Reply speech

10 5

10 10

10 5

30 20

Total

25

30

25

30

Team total