Do digital devices negatively impact our relationships with friends and family?
That was the resolution that Grade 6 and 7 Upper Canada College students had to ponder in the colour house debating final during the Middle Division assembly on Feb. 27, and they handled it with aplomb.
The proposition team in the final was composed of Toni Agboje-Obo, Jordan Esmail, Joseph Wu and Wills Carter, while the opposition team members were Aman Rizwan, Nicholas Ng, Ethan Cohen and Max Rivett.
It was difficult to choose a winner since both sides presented strong arguments, but it was announced on March 27 that the opposition team claimed the colour house debating title.
The boys had to work on their research, thinking, writing and presentation skills while working together to create coherent arguments.
“For the first round, they have to debate one side,” says Tina Jagdeo, the Wernham West Centre for Learning Primary Division coordinator who oversaw the program.
“And then if they make it to the second round they have to turn around and reorient themselves and debate the other side. They really have to be divergent thinkers.”
Toby Henderson moderated and Eric Dong was the timekeeper for the final. Jagdeo, Prep character integrator Laurie Fraser and Kassie Dwarika of McLeese Debate coached and worked with the boys to get them this far.
The debaters impressed everyone who saw them in action, including the panel of judges, which was comprised of: former UCC faculty member Susan Elliott, who’s now at Toronto French School (TFS); Bob Tarle from TFS; and former Prep debater Aryan Paliwal.
“It was interesting how balanced the debate was with the pros and cons of using technology,” says Jagdeo.
“We are living in interesting times because we’re building the plane and flying the plane at the same time where technology is concerned. We have to figure out what the rules are and appropriate boundaries, and when to use it and when not to use it, and how to use it.
“Because technology is like air for them and has always been there for them, sometimes I wonder if they’ll access other ways to calm themselves or relax. They tend to pick up technology to satisfy so many different needs, whereas older generations might go for a walk or do something else to calm themselves. I don’t know if they’ll explore all of the options that we sometimes explore to relax or find entertainment.”
There are no further competitions for students of this age, but Jagdeo says “a lot of the Grade 7s are looking forward to joining the Upper School debating teams, where they start doing more competitions against other schools.”