Roedean has always placed considerable emphasis on the importance of Public Speaking. Roedean wishes all its students to be able to research accurately and thoroughly; to argue persuasively and passionately, but without rancour and intolerance; to present speeches that are appropriate in register and style for any occasion; and to deliver speeches confidently and unaffectedly.
Every year, Roedean participates in the premiere Public Speaking Competition run by the Speech and Drama College (SA), and the school’s results are always exceptional, with A symbols and A+ symbols abounding! All the Public Speaking teams are trained by members of the English Department, and the dedication and expertise of both trainers and speakers certainly bear fruit. A clear head and an eloquent tongue are essential in the challenging adult world, and Roedean teachers encourage all pupils to possess both.
Debating is alive and well and living at Roedean!
In keeping with Roedean’s belief in the importance of developing critical thinking skills, girls are actively encouraged to become members of the Debating Society. A thriving and dedicated group of debaters meets once or twice a week for about two hours. Roedean is fortunate to have experienced coaches who address the needs and requirements of the team. A typical debating meeting will consist of the animated discussion of some of the latest issues making headlines, followed by the analysis of a particular motion. There is always much laughter and a high level of energy at these meetings, with girls eager to share their discoveries. A prep session will follow to enable the girls to strategise and develop arguments. After the debate, there will be an adjudication offering constructive criticism. A research file is constantly updated by the girls.
Roedean takes part in the SACEE Debating League at both Junior and Senior level. The league, based on the World Schools style of debating, runs throughout the year with the first few rounds being based on prepared motions. What then is the World Schools style of debate? Debating is far more than merely making a speech. Both teams offer points of information during the other side’s speeches and this brings about a major change in the role of speakers in a debate. Each speaker is expected to take part in the debate from beginning to end, not just during the individual speech. The speakers play this role by offering points of information. Even if the points are not accepted, they must still demonstrate that they are involved in the debate by continuing to challenge and engage with the argument of the opposing side.
Subsequent rounds of the league require agile thinking and the application of extensive general knowledge in impromptu debates.
The girls are provided with many opportunities to develop their speaking. Workshops, training sessions, practices and friendly inter-school competitions and debates help to develop the required cognitive skills and the understanding of current affairs, both local and international. An annual Inter-house competition is held to enable the girls to gain experience, and to hone their skills. In order to find new talent and to whet the girls’ appetite for keen debate, the competition is held near the start of the year. Emphasis is also placed on the concept of team spirit. Roedean runs an annual inter-school competition, called the Roedean Round, which takes place shortly before the provincials.
Roedean also takes part in various Model United Nations competitions, many of which are organised by SAIIA, the South African Institute of International Affairs at the University of the Witwatersrand. Model UN debating requires the delegates to behave as would their adopted country. Diplomacy, consistency, authenticity, and a thorough knowledge of the country’s background and strategic alliances are all elements which contribute to the success of the team. Position papers are handed in prior to the debate.
There can be no doubt that debating affords our girls opportunities to reflect on matters which are taking place in society today; there is increased awareness of global issues and an opportunity to spend some very profitable hours exchanging points of view and expressing conflicting views in a thoughtful and structured way. Roedean looks forward to continuing the legacy of considered speech. The skills learnt through debating prove invaluable for other areas of the school. Debating becomes a way of life and, on a practical level, an invaluable tool for the academic subjects. The fine art of debate enables girls to feel more confident about putting across their ideas in a logical manner. Roedean debaters learn how to write better-structured essays with sound argumentation; they learn how to deliver their ideas in a manner which commands attention. Roedean girls learn to think on their feet. What more can we ask of their education?