Symbas Debate is Back!


Like there are two sides to every story, there are two sides to every debate. CC licensed

Last year in November, alumna Mio Magee (’14) led a small student-coached high school debate team to seven victories against debate teams from other international schools, including the American School in Japan, Saint Mary’s, Seisen, and the Christian Academy in Japan. From December 2014 to February 2015, as many as 15 ISSH students will form another student-led debate team. With the recruiting season already started, this year’s team will be divided into Junior Varsity and Varsity. After receiving debate topics, debaters will prepare for  practice debates hosted by Saint Mary’s. The Junior Varsity team will also participate in the JV debate tournament on February 4.

Debate coaches and judges create the debate topics often inspired by current global issues. For instance, last year’s JV debate tournament focused on how advertising degrades quality of life. Other notable topics included: whether the 2020 Olympics will benefit Japan’s ageing economy; if poetry is beautiful, but science is what really matters; and whether government transparency is ideal in the 21st century.

For each debate, the two teams must defend either an affirmative or negative side.  Each team comprises three members; a first speaker who introduces the definition of the argument, a second speaker, who addresses rebuttals as well as providing clarifications and parameters; and a third speaker, who summarises the previous speakers’ cases and concludes by providing additional substantial arguments against the opposition.

Although this may be a challenging extracurricular activity, students have agreed that it can be very beneficial to our school community. Yuko (11) said, “On so many levels, debate is very relevant. For the whole school, it raises awareness and educates us about ongoing issues.” Yuko admits that although the idea of an ISSH debate team is relatively new, it is an ideal way to promote interaction with other schools. She is thinking about joining the team.

To conclude, last year’s debate team member Yuri (11) said, “Debate is an important skill for every career. It’s great training of mind, to be able to provide supporting information and react quickly to points of information. Debate is like a sport, enjoyable but, at the same time, really intense. Everyone will be able to value their experience gained through debate.”