All Upper Canada College Grade 6 and 7 students discussed whether resume virtues are more important than eulogy virtues to have a purposeful life, and that formed the basis for the 13th annual colour house debating tournament.
“At UCC we value boys becoming their best self,” says Wernham West Centre for Learning Primary Division coordinator Tina Jagdeo, who oversaw the program and worked with the students along with Prep character program director Laurie Fraser and Kassie Dwarika of McLeese Debate. “We saw the house debate as an opportunity to explore this concept.
“It provided an opportunity for the boys to reflect on what values are important in their lives. Do they prioritize academic grades and success or their internal value and relationships with family and friends?”
The boys have been preparing for the debate since the first week back to school in January, doing much of the work on their own time and during lunch and recess periods. Some of the key materials they explored to help them were David Brooks’ The Road to Character, Martin Seligman’s Flourish, George Vaillant’s “Grant Study” and biographies of a number of successful men and women.
“They were working on all of the IB approaches to learning skills, including their thinking skills, their research skills, their communication skills and their self-management skills,” says Jagdeo.
The first debating round involved six teams and 24 students, and the best of them made it to the final. The two teams were then asked to argue for the opposite side of what got them there.
“We wanted them to have a broad perspective and think deeply about both sides of the issue,” says Jagdeo.
Daniel Tang, Daniel Botros, Morley Roden and Dillon Aristotle (who stepped in for an ill Vikram Rawal) faced off in the final against Joey Katz, Drake Belanger-Polak, Jinoo Kim and Jordan van Slingerland. Toni Agbaje-Ojo moderated the final while Andrew Frith and Tim McCowan acted as timekeepers.
The boys exchanged their views in front of four judges: speaker, author, facilitator and well-being teacher Louisa Jewell, who founded the Canadian Positive Psychology Association; Piotr Pikul, a partner with McKinsey & Company in Toronto; UCC head steward Elliott Birman; and Dr. Greg Evans, the director of The Happiness Enhancement Group who also serves on the board of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association.
Both sides presented strong points and the judges were hard-pressed to come up with a winner. They did, however, and their decision will be revealed at the Prep arts assembly in April.
There are no other debates for students of this age to take part in, but this will provide valuable experience for Upper School debating, where the focus is on competing against other schools.
“There’s a track record of Prep debaters doing very well in the debating program at the Upper School,” says Jagdeo.