FD held its Annual Enabling Day, drawing participants from a diverse range of backgrounds including those with teaching, coaching, public speaking, debating, volunteer and partnership interests. Experienced FD and guest speakers covered topics such as advanced manner tactics, how to introduce novices to debating and activities to encourage public speaking. The session concluded with a group challenge activity addressing team dynamics as well as a Q&A session with 2013 Worlds Universities Debating Championships winner, Nita Rao.
The people of Foundation Boroondara enlisted FD to help some local students prepare for the Rotary 4 Way Test Speaking Competition. The initial session with around 8 students late in 2012 produced a significant improvement in the confidence and presentation ability of the participants, which flowed through to a real improvement in their results at the competition. Many of the participants were keen to build on that training beyond the competition so they attended a further 2 sessions with FD trainers in March 2013. The training focused on confidence, speech structure and argument development. When asked to make a persuasive speech highlighting a problem and proposing a solution at their schools they displayed enthusiasm and creativity, while identifying a range of issues impacting on both students and the community. They very convincingly put their new skills to good use. They showed a real commitment to improving their public speaking and to using their talents in the classroom.
In December 2012, with a follow-up in January 2013, around 25 of the most recent TfA associates were introduced to the FD public speaking training model with a view to improving their speaking skills and confidence in advance of their arrival in classrooms. They practised and honed their new learning in an invigorating and fascinating debate about the effects of standardised testing on students and the quality of education. Even after 24 speakers the debate raged! The training also encouraged and prepared them to use debating as a learning tool in the classroom, to encourage analytical thinking, clear expression and argument presentation. Some of the associates were also keen to learn how to prepare students for competitive debating, with a view to introducing debating to their schools. We wish the associates all the best for the teaching year.
Recently, FD worked with students from Fairhills High School who are partnering with World Vision to raise funds for and visit a disadvantaged Vietnamese community later this year. FD’s mission was to equip the students with confident speaking skills they could then use to persuade others to give generously in sponsorship of the overseas community, and to provide students with tips and skills for interacting with members of that community when they visit! Students developed the art of engaging others using appealing verbal and non-verbal communication techniques and learned how to weave persuasive arguments. The sessions were highly interactive and hands-on, with voice modulation and projection exercises integrated into speeches and debating on topics ranging from feminism in pop culture to children’s health issues.
Free Debate held its AGM today, reviewing its activities over the last twelve months and electing a new committee including Fiona Prowse (Immediate Past President), Ajay Kevat (President), Jacqueline Duong (Vice President), Lynne Featonby (Secretary), Nicole Franklin (Treasurer) and Rob Koh, Sam Greenland and Carmel Wallis in committee member positions. Special congratulations to Sam and Carmel who are joining the committee for the first time.
Over three workshops in September, FD worked with Adult Multicultural Education Services (AMES) students to develop their confidence and public speaking skills. The first session focused on a number of techniques for delivering speeches, including how to build confidence and improve clarity. To consolidate these skills, students spoke about a topic of their choice, with topics ranging from arranged marriages, children on social networking websites, public transport concession cards for international students to how the government can do more to address environmental issues. The second session on the following Saturday refreshed past learning and finished with a 3-on-3 debate about whether job opportunities were limited for migrants in Australia. The final session adopted the same approach, with a fiery and exciting debate on gay marriage that considered all sides of the debate in a fair and even manner. All students improved immeasurably over the three weeks, and FD is looking forward to further involvement with AMES students in the future.
Adult Multicultural Education Services (AMES) students attending the organisation’s city campus underwent a two-session workshop intensive on confident public speaking and debating led by FD trainers Rob Koh, Ajay Kevat and Kim Little. The final session culminated in an Oxford-style debate about whether Australia should turn to compulsory unionism. Speakers from both sides overcame language barriers and their own public speaking fears to make arguments in an impassioned and confident manner. FD is looking forward to further involvement with AMES students in the near future.
Over the years, many Free Debaters have had the pleasure of working with the students and teachers at AMES. They are among our most engaged and enthusiastic debaters and public speakers. We are looking forward to running another program for AMES in Term 3 this year. For 60 years AMES has helped new and recently arrived refugees and migrants to settle in to Victoria. AMES teaches English to new arrivals, but also works with the community, business and Government to develop sustainable and effective settlement solutions for the whole Victorian community. We are proud to be a small part of helping AMES achieve its vision: “full participation for all in a cohesive and diverse society”.
We are proud to work with Teach for Australia – an organisation dedicated to closing the education gap for disadvantaged kids (did you know that the least advantaged kids in Australian schools lag two and a half years behind the most privileged?). Our main role with TFA is “train the trainer” – training teachers to coach debating teams and use debating in their classrooms. Sometimes we are also able to help out at an individual school – like Fairhills High School in Knoxfield, Melbourne. Recently one of our most experienced FD trainers, Lynne Featonby, and a TFA associate teamed up and coached a Fairhills junior team to its first victory! Well done to all concerned, especially the members of the team.
FD ran a dynamic Oxford-style debate on the topic “That we should introduce compulsory national service for 19-year olds in Australia” to challenge budding new debaters from Copperfield College to take their oratory skills to the next level as part of an integrated Debating Day with the Melbourne University Debating Society. Young speakers from Years 7 and 8 debated in teams through a fast-flowing argument and rebuttal with minimal preparation, thinking on their feet. Impressive! This workshop was led by Kim Little, former World Champion Debating Competition winner, government policy advisor and experienced coach.