Sunday, October 26, 2008

Debating about corporal punishment

Dropped by Ateneo de Davao yesterday to catch the Masters round of the National Debate Championships (NDC). It's the 'fun' round where senior debaters (mostly former college debaters) are tested for their wit and humor as well as their logic.

The mini-auditorium was packed with English and Tagalog speaking college debaters from all over the country. Girls in shorts, mini skirts, pants, heels, slippers, guys in shorts, slacks, long sleeves, tshirts, sneakers, and so on. Lots of gel and more cleavage than I'm usually used to. Plus lots of loooong legs, funky hairstyles and even one girl with dreadlocks. Nice mixed crowd. My jogging pants fit right in.

I sat a the back and waited for around 30 minutes before the debaters were called up and given their motion: whether or not corporal punishment against children should be disallowed. Four debaters on each side - 'the government' versus 'the opposition.' They were given some 15 minutes to prepare their arguments. Here are some of the things they said:

1. In a liberal democracy, parents bring their children into the world, feed their children, take care of their children, and therefore should also be allowed to decide how to discipline their children.
2. Slapping a child is done not without reason but because the child has done something wrong.
3. Of course, corporal punishment should be used as a last resort - after talking and reasoning
4. If all else fails, there's nothing wrong with spanking obnoxious brats. Slap them to get it over with.

1. Corporal punishment should never be an option because abused children become abusers later on.
2. There are other ways to discipline children like talking to them or letting someone else talk to them, corporal punishment should never be the last resort because it can blow out of proportion
3. Parents often spank children at the heat of the moment, to get rid of anger more than to teach a lesson.
4. Inflicting pain causes resentment which helps little in getting the message across.

What I found particularly amusing was how these debaters expertly used the right inflections to emphasize the validity of their arguments and downplay that of their opponents'.
Some debaters though talked really fast and I thought they'd be uh, 'lost in translation' but i was wrong because the audience laughed right on cue. I also noticed that the debaters used 'difficult' words not normally used in ordinary conversation. This might succeed in impressing the judges and intimidating opponents but if you ask me, KISS (keep it short and simple) is still the best way to communicate. Sounding intelligent is nice but the delivery could have been improved. This doesn't necessarily mean speaking slower. Just more relaxed ba. And more poised. (Like Obama. I hope he wins.) Of course with the time constraint, debaters are bound to rush, rush, rush. Their challenge was basically how to make efficient use of the time to say what they want to say in the best possible way.

Kinda like writing an essay. If you're given 1 page to write about corporal punishment and stand out, what points would you include and what would you leave out? What a dilemma this having to make every word count. Especially when you're only given 15 minutes to prepare. Working under that much pressure and coming out sounding the most convincing is something not everyone can do. So congratulations to all you debaters.

I would've loved to stay on and watch the NDC finals that night but I had to go shopping for the trip to Tawi-Tawi next week. Food, earrings, shoes. I'm set. I can't wait to find out who won the debate finals yesterday and what the motion was. Will let you know as soon as I know.


Lemuel Kit said...

Sometimes, debaters should talk a little bit slow so that their audience could catch up and understand what they're saying. Talking so fast and not being understood defeats the purpose of debating as a tool to educate the average reasonable person. i wish i was there. i miss debating na... huhuhu... unfortunately, i was not allowed to take a leave without pay for the ndc . :(

MayaFlaminda said...

you have a point kit. if debaters debate among themselves, i guess it's okay to talk fast but debating among non-debaters, i agree, has to be done slower. :) sayang you were not there. ADDU only reached the semis. I haven't really seen them in action yet. Only on viewfinder. hehe