Shrewsbury School

International Debating: Shrewsbury v. Cranbrook, Sydney

Friday 12 February 2021

Three Fourth Form Salopians (Luke W, Natalia T, Todd R-P) had an early start on Monday morning as they participated in the inaugural UK-Australian debate held between junior teams from Shrewsbury and Cranbrook School, Sydney.

Despite the challenging global conditions and physical distance between the two schools, the debate provided ample evidence of how technology can harness connectivity between students to engage their enthusiasm and persuasive skillset beyond the classroom.

H.G. Mackridge, Head of Academic Enrichment, said: “The motion concerned whether the media should be allowed to report on the private lives of politicians and all six participants engaged their arguments with flair and focus. The adjudicators (representing both Shrewsbury and Cranbrook) conferred following a high-quality debate and gave the call to Shrewsbury on this occasion with Natalia named 'speaker of the day.'

“Well done to all who got involved and helped developed this intellectual, dynamic link between the two schools.”

Luke W (IV, SH) added: “When faced with the arduous yet irrefusable task of managing a team for international debating, I promptly acknowledged that cooperation and communication was going to be paramount, both in bringing together persuasive arguments, and rebuttals on the day. Preparation was far from independent despite the distance, through the utilisation of a collaborative space on One Note; Natalia and Todd were immensely helpful in taking up the unexpected offer and contributing so eloquently. As for the opposition themselves, Cranbrook were certainly tough, but it was enjoyable nonetheless to hear a different accent, and to remember that we were competing from entirely opposite sides of the globe. We owe a debt of gratitude to Mr Mackridge, for this extraordinary opportunity to represent Shrewsbury School, and Cranbrook for the challenge they provided us. This unique debate proved certainly to me not only the importance of teamwork, however separated the members are, but also the undeniable progression of technology, from a time when this would never have been possible.”

Benjamin Smith, Cranbrook School’s Debating Coordinator, said:  “Developing awareness of national histories and the ways they influence and shape contemporary public conversation is essential knowledge for any debater in the 21st century. It was clear from early in the debate that although the UK and Australia do share common beliefs in the importance of a free press, there are distinct differences in how the media in our respective countries conduct their political reporting and treatment of those who run for public office.

“Being forced to engage with perspectives and examples foreign to regular home debates is challenging, but students from both schools did extremely well to unpack the details of their opposition’s arguments and use them to further their own case. It’s always a pleasure to hear our leaders of tomorrow speak in a thoughtful, respectful and sensitive manner. 

We congratulate Shrewsbury on their win as opponents of the night’s motion and are very much looking forward to the upcoming second round in a fortnight’s time, this time between our senior students!”.

Second Proposition Speaker and Cranbrook’s Speaker of the Debate, Ryan added: “Connecting with Shrewsbury School has taught me how we can resonate with global world issues on a far deeper level than I would against a nearby school. In the form of a debate against such well-spoken and intelligent students, I felt as if I gained the ability to make these connections with great passion and enthusiasm.”

Watch this space for details of the Sixth Form international debate due to be held post-Exeat.

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