A matter that is debatable ...

Katie Phelan, Sin�ad Jenkins and Laura Byrne of the Holy Family Secondary School.
Report from the second third round of the County Kildare Schools Debating Competition for the Rigby-Jones Memorial Shield, in association with the Leinster Leader.

Report from the second third round of the County Kildare Schools Debating Competition for the Rigby-Jones Memorial Shield, in association with the Leinster Leader.

On Thursday, 21. November, the second of the third round of debates was held in Clongowes Wood College, Naas.

“That formal education does more harm than good ” was the motion for the first debate of the evening. Jenny McGarry, Chloe O’Reilly and Tom Higgins from Newbridge College challenged Conor Murray, Sam Powell and Louis Gunning from Clongowes Wood College, Naas.

Proposing the motion we learnt that the pupils of today are being pushed to breaking point in the hopeless excuse, which is the points-focussed system in Ireland. In the formal system pupils gets points instead of an education and 7,000 approx fail to complete the Leaving Certificate programme. The current system perpetuates inequality, produces a robotic labour force and brings out the worst in people. We were presented an alternative to the moulded and regimented pupils and the rundown and bored teachers. The Waldorf / Steiner Schools, six in Ireland and one here in Co. Kildare, address the needs of all pupils and encourage individuality and free thinking. We were reminded that if one judges a fish by its ability to climb a tree, the misfortunate fish is doomed to failure! For third level students the whole system of internships and apprenticeships can be tailored to the needs of individual students. This preferable alternative system will develop charismatic and rounded students who will contribute much more to a potential employer.

Opposing the motion we were told that education without the development of social skills and interaction would be useless. The banter and the craic of friends, who share many hours and years together, would be overlooked in any informal system of education. The whole procedure of formal examination and assessment gives credibility to the capabilities of pupils. The vast majority of parents are simply unable to provide good quality home education. The formal education ensure standards of both teaching and learning

The motion was defeated and the points went to the boys from Clongowes Wood College.

second debate

The second debate of the evening “That history should remain a core subject for all Junior Cert pupils ” was proposed by Mary Ryan, Laura Fleming and Isobel Milne, representing St. Mary’s College, and opposed by Katie Phelan, Sinead Jenkins and Laura Byrne from Holy Family Secondary School, Newbridge.

The government opened the debate questioning how we could possibly appreciate our identity if we had learnt nothing about it? Without even a basic understanding of history our adults would be ignorant of the world and people around them and consequently remain childlike in many attitudes. Through history we learn about the concepts of bias, prejudice and propaganda, so important to avoid warped views and illinformed decisions. If the Sufragettes had not broken their shackles this debater might not be here debating and expressing herself. She might perhaps be outside making the tea instead! As Churchill summarised it, the further backwards you look the further forward you can see. We learnt that the history curriculum encourages balanced thinking and it develops analytical and critical thinking in pupils. Finally at the age of 12 or 13 a young person is no position to make such an important decision.

The proposition believed that history as taught in schools does not develop an appreciation of our past. Pupils are fed a random series of dumbed-down events and, most importantly, if history is meant to educate people to avoid the mistakes of the past, it has been a total failure. Societies and nations all around the world continue to repeat the tragic and awful mistakes of the past. There are so many flaws in the curriculum. At a fundamental level the historians themselves change the emphasis to support their own biased views. History is nothing but another in the long list of boring subjects. We were reminded that there is a real difference between knowledge and understanding, and that until this is truly understood, history will remain the victor’s version of events.

The adjudicators, whose chairperson was Ms. Órla O’Connell, awarded the victory to the team from St. Mary’s College.

Ms O’Connell thanked Mr Frank Kelly, Director of Boarding, and pupils in Clongowes Wood College for their hospitality this evening, and congratulated Michael Doyle, Chairperson and Sam Gallagher, our Timekeeper for the evening.

The final of this year’s County Kildare Schools Debating Competition for the Rigby-Jones Memorial Shield will take place on Thursday, December 5, in St. Mary’s College, Naas, at 8.00pm. The teams will represent an Gaelcholáiste Nás na Ríogh and St. Mary’s College, Naas.

The motion will be “That we, the Irish, have lost our sense of national pride” and it will be proposed by the Gaelcholaiste and opposed by St Mary’s, Naas.

Awards will be made to the two best non-finalist speakers, Chloe O’Reilly of Newbridge College and David Scanlan from CBS, Naas.