A silver lining of the recent shift to online debating has been the ability to participate in international competitions such as Nordic Schools. With a team of year 9 and year 10 students facing mostly year 12 and 13 competitors, we were relatively modest in our ambitions, so it was a lovely surprise to reach the quarter-finals and to do so as the top-ranked team!
Three debates were ‘prepared’ and we were given the topics beforehand and could do research (although you only learn just before the debate for what side you will argue). These topics were ‘this House prefers stakeholder over shareholder capitalism’, ‘this House believes that social media platforms should pay news publishers for all links to their content published on the platforms’ and ‘this House Believes that the left should actively oppose the culture of political correctness’. We held numerous calls to prepare over the Easter holiday and the capitalism motion in particular required a lot of research to understand the arguments.
The remaining two debates were unprepared and we were given the topic one hour in advance. The topics were ‘this House would prohibit social media influencers from contributing to political campaigns’ and ‘this House regrets the increasing emphasis on individual productivity’.
As the only UK team, we debated teams from Slovenia, Denmark, India, Croatia and Romania, many of whose members were in their national teams. Somehow we triumphed over all of them and were one of only two teams (alongside the German national team) to win all their debates. Having scored the most speaker points, we were the top-ranked team entering the quarter-finals.
Our luck finally ran out as we faced the same impressive Croatian national team that we had beaten in an earlier round. We argued effectively against the motion that ‘this House regrets the trend of prominent business women giving advice of succeeding in the status quo corporate culture (e.g. lean-in feminism) rather than fighting to radically reform it’. On a 2-1 split, however, the judges awarded the victory to Croatia. It was a shame not to progress further but we felt so proud to have got so far and to have debated so many interesting topics against very capable teams.